If you want to keep your New Year’s resolutions, you should narrow your focus, set the bar low, and start before New Years.
Narrow your focus:
If you have more than three New Year’s resolutions or goals, then you’re doing too much. Try to accomplish too many things and you set yourself up for failure.
It’s difficult enough to incorporate one new behavior into your life, let alone five or six.
Think about the one or two areas in your life you really want to improve, identify the lead dominos in these areas, go after those, and ignore everything else.
Set the bar low:
Even if you have only one goal, you shouldn’t set your sights too high because this will also set you up to fail. Be honest with yourself, think about what you can realistically accomplish, and shoot for that.
If you are 100 pounds overweight, setting a goal to have a six pack in a couple of months isn’t realistic.
It’s better to set smaller mini-goals, conquer them, and gain positive reinforcement than to be too ambitious, fail, and get down on yourself.
In fact, it may be better to avoid the entire resolution mindset, altogether, and work on building habits instead.
A resolution, by definition, is absolute. Hit or miss. All or nothing, no in between. No room for error. No points for progress.
You can set modest targets on a daily or weekly basis and actually achieve them. This may not seem productive right away, but it will result in bigger long-term achievements without the pressure of large stakes or burnout from trying to do too much too fast.
If you do set measurable goals (which you should), you may want to give yourself a range and set a minimum goal and a stretch goal.
Working in corporate America, I’ve gotten used to the idea of minimum targets vs. stretch targets and I decided to incorporate this into my personal goals this year.
It might be something worth considering, especially if your goals are centered around consistency, like mine. It’s very possible for you to do a good job, but not a great job over the course of a year.
Here’s one final tip:
Start working on your New Years resolutions BEFORE the new year.
This will give you a warm up period to see how things go and make adjustments, if necessary.
I recently decided what my goals are for next year and started working on the systems I need to achieve these goals in late November. This gives me five weeks to practice and build momentum so that I can hit the ground running on January 1.
December is also the hardest month of the year to accomplish anything that involves health or productivity because of the holidays. So if you can get it done during December, then you know you can get it done anytime.
If you’re interested in my own personal goals for the upcoming year, check out my blog post:
Featured image by William Iven.