New Year’s Resolutions are promises we make to ourselves about a future vision we wish to achieve, but we often (dare I say “almost always”) lack the strategy, commitment, focus, and accountability to make them a reality.
Here are five simple yet powerful tips to getting your groove on in terms of keeping these important commitments to your own success and happiness, and achieving true life change.
1) Make your resolutions S.M.A.R.T.
Don’t just say – “I’m going to lose 15 pounds.” The vagueness of the “how” behind a big goal sets you up for failure. Make each resolution a S.M.A.R.T. goal – that is, specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. So instead of “lose 15 pounds,” dimensionalize the goal and break it down into bite-sized pieces.
Develop a fully fleshed-out plan and articulate it in writing. State something like: “Beginning January 7, I will follow my new plan to lose 1 lb per week. I’ll do it through my new nutritional menus, 3 days of 30-minute cycling per week, and a short hike each weekend.” Then monitor your progress each week and revise your course if necessary all along the way to your goal. Remember: if you don’t DO anything different from what you’ve always done, nothing will change.
2) Dream Big, But Add a Dose of Realism
It’s wonderful to dream big, but you also need to be realistic about the time, energy and commitment it will take to make your resolution a reality.
If you want a lofty goal as a resolution such as “I will finally write my book,” first understand what you’re committing to in terms of time, money, focus, and actions that will make this goal a reality. As an initial step, “try on” the goal (before making the resolution) by researching it online and offline, and interviewing five people you know who’ve published a book about what it truly takes to write one. If after researching it, you feel you can and want to do it, make your resolution clear and manageable – “I will complete my manuscript by the end of 2011, finding the helpers I need along the way.”
3) Don’t Based Your Goal on the Negative – Juice it up with Positivity
If you hate your job and want out, don’t make your goal “I’ll leave my job by June.” Reframe your goal to a more positive, expansive direction that encompasses what you truly want, not what you want to leave behind. Shift your resolution to, “I will begin January 7th on a path of finding an exciting new job that aligns with my passions, talents, and skills.”
Then follow it up with the actions and endeavors required today to land a great new job. First, figure out what you really want in the next chapter of life and work (take my free Career Path Assessment to gain deeper clarity on where you want to go.). Then, take key steps to build your personal brand and a powerful network to support you. Revamp your resume, reach out to recruiters, colleagues and friends, get more connected on social media and LinkedIn, and request endorsements on LinkedIn, for a solid start.
4) Connect With Your Capabilities and Past Successes
Before you make a resolution, think about times in the past you’ve achieved a great goal. How did you do it? What motivated you, and how do you persevere through the challenging times? Bring forward those traits and capabilities you already possess, and make sure those steps and abilities you’ve drawn on before are reflected in your new resolutions.
For instance, a client of mine wanted to raise her fees in her consulting practice this year, but was nervous to do it in these recessionary times. I asked her to recall a time when she asked for more money, and it worked out well. She remembered asking for a raise in her corporate job several years ago, and getting it. She brought to mind all the steps she took to accomplish that success (outlining her key achievements, doing research about what others at her level are earning, assessing the obstacles to her getting more money, becoming clearer about the value she brought to the table, etc.). This past process that she successfully followed gave her the courage to ask for what she deserved in her new situation, and it worked.
Bring all the learning from your past successes forward into your 2012 resolution success planning to show yourself you can do it.
5) Get Help To Be Accountable
We don’t achieve big goals alone, or in a vacuum. That’s simply not how the best and most powerful work and accomplishments get done. You need a collection of different helpers to fill in your “gaps” – including a mentor, a coach (if you can afford one), and a role model who is ten steps ahead of where you are today, and who embodies what you want and how you want it. Realize what you don’t know, and get outside help to support you.
As Einstein pointed out, we can’t solve a problem on the level it was created. Ask your mentor or coach to hold you accountable. Meet with them regularly to assess your progress, share your challenges, and ask for their insights into what you could be doing differently and how you can learn, grow, and change your mindset, habits and behaviors to achieve what you want.
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In the end, resolutions can be empty, unfulfilled promises filled with regret, or enlivening, motivating goals that help you be all you want to be in life and work. It’s up to you. I’d go for the latter!
What’s your top New Year’s resolution for 2012 and how will you achieve it?