It sounds easy, but only a select number of people are able to make and keep their resolutions every year. What makes them different? Do they have something in common?
People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t.1 However, of the 45 percent of people who make at least one resolution in January, only 8 percent will still be committed to them by year-end.2
Follow these six actionable steps to stay focused and keep the resolutions you make:
1. Be SMART
You may have heard of SMART goals used in a business setting. Well, they also apply to your everyday goals and resolutions. Being SMART means your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely.3 Think about what you want to accomplish. How can you measure it? What will it take to achieve it? Is your goal relevant to your overall vision? Will you have time to accomplish these goals in conjunction with all of the other things on your list?
Many people fall victim to setting goals that are not SMART. For example, if you have a goal of losing weight, define what that means to you. Is it about losing pounds, reducing body fat, getting in shape, etc.? For most, it’s not about the actual weight loss but the benefits they receive from losing the weight. Is it about getting into the jeans you used to be able to fit into, decreasing body-fat percentage, or being able to complete a 5K run without resting? Determine what you want to achieve by being specific, how you will know it’s been achieved, if the goal makes sense, if it is realistic and if it fits within your schedule.
2. Be Visible
Ninety percent of people do not have written goals. When you don’t write down goals or plans, it’s so easy to forget your focus.4
Imagine you go to the grocery store to pick up a few items without a list. Oftentimes you lose focus on your purpose when you don’t have a list to reference. This loss of focus causes you to venture down every aisle looking for additional items and lose track of the items you intended to get. This loss of focus causes you to spend more time in the store, only to realize you forgot some of the items you intended to get. Replay this same scenario, but this time, you have a physical list. The visual helps to keep you focused on your purpose, and you leave in less time while still obtaining all of the items on your list.
This is why there is so much motivational value in writing down a physical list. They keep us focused on our plans and help us remain intentional about what we want to accomplish on the road ahead.
3. Be Accountable
Basketball player Joe Dumars once said, “On good teams, coaches hold players accountable; on great teams, players hold players accountable.” Accountability is an important part of life — who’s holding you accountable to achieve your goals for 2018? We should not only be accountable with others but also with ourselves. Participating in an accountability group helps to hold you accountable to the goals you set for yourself. An accountability group should be select individuals dedicated to holding each other accountable. The group should focus on uplifting each other but still have the ability to hold each other accountable. When you share your goals with others, you are more likely to keep them. It is much easier to let yourself off the hook when there is no one to hold you accountable.
You can also leverage technology to keep you on track. In this new age of technology and digital communication, there are varieties of ways to consistently keep our goals in front of us. Since most people are on their phone for the majority of the day, apps are a great way to keep goals visible. Many apps have been created that focus on developing key areas of our lives that will help us achieve our goals.
4. Be Available
We schedule time for what’s important to us — appointments (doctor, hair, dentist), school, work, taxes, financial advice, massages, reservations and more. If what you are going to accomplish in the New Year is important, then you should make time for it. Block time on your calendar to spend time focusing on your goals.5 For example, if your plan is to go to the gym — schedule your gym appointments and set reminders to keep you focused. Time can be allocated for many things. For example, if your goal is leadership development, block time on your calendar for an hour a week to focus on it. Even if you missed a week or more, the consistent reminders and calendar appointments will help to keep your goal visible and make you more likely to achieve it.
5. Be Focused
It is so easy to focus on achieving a goal and lose sight of the big picture. When this happens, goal achievement can become a daunting task. Make sure to enjoy the journey and appreciate the accomplishments you achieved along the way.
Think about that when you decide to lose fifteen pounds. It’s so easy to focus on the negative, the things you are giving up — carbs, ice cream, sweets and comfort food. Shift your mindset to focus on the benefits you receive along the way — increased energy, better sleep, sharper focus and more. Enjoy all of the physical benefits you receive along the way. Focus on what you can control, enjoy the journey, and you’ll end up at your destination a lot quicker.
6. Be Open
In order to make sure you accomplish your goals by the end of the year, you must keep them visible and consistently track your progress. Establish a timeline that works with your schedule. Your timeline should be reflective of your schedule and availability. If you only have time to evaluate your goals monthly, set a monthly evaluation goal; nothing more, nothing less. Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic goals.
Once you begin tracking your progress regularly, you will need to benchmark your goals. Are you on track to achieve your goals? Are you close or far away from your goals? Regardless, it’s important to reassess your goals and determine if you were too ambitious or not ambitious enough. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, you can always readjust your goals to fit your current schedule. Readjusting established goals is always better than not having any goals. Readjusting allows you to reset expectations with yourself and accomplish more than you would have if you didn’t have any goals.5
As you venture into another year, remember these words by English poet William Ernest Henley,
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul…
Be proud of yourself. You have accomplished something that half of the world failed to do just by setting resolutions for the New Year. You control your destiny, so set goals for the path you want to pursue and keep the resolutions you make.