Every year, millions of people make resolutions. With well-meaning intentions, we make our lists and then they inevitably fall off our plate. We face great discouragement and shelve them for next year.
But how can we ensure our goals do not fall by the way-side?
I am not an expert in life-improvement but I have found that these tips have worked for me and I hope they can help others stick to their #2018Goals.
1. Tackle One Resolution at a Time
Humans are creatures of habit; it is unlikely that you will change the person you have been for the last 20/30/40+ years overnight. You can make your list, but be realistic. If you have a history of never achieving your goals, make your list but tackle the one or two you believe most critical. You can always work on the others later in life!
2. Set SMART Goals
Most people who work for organizations are expected to set SMART goals; however, they seldom use this same format for personal goals. Let’s use an example to illustrate:
Many people set a goal to better manage their finances. Sounds great but there are numerous issues with setting such a vague goal.
Specific - How much money do you want to save / earn?
Measurable – Will you be measuring your earnings and expenses, for example, by Excel or some other tool to track your progress?
Achievable – Have you completed an assessment of your capacity to cut expenses, or carve out time to earn additional income? What will you sacrifice to make this happen?
Relevant – Is this change a necessity or random desire? This will make a difference in your motivation.
Time-bound – Are you saving for a specific purpose? Crop Over fetes in 6 months, home deposit in two-years or retirement plan? It is critical to know how much time you need to measure whether you are on target and the effort required if you fall behind.
This thinking can be applied to most self-improvement desires including losing weight, studying, new hobbies, etc.
3. Research Your Goal
If we knew what we were doing, then chances are, we would have achieved our goals eons ago. Many of us assume that achieving a goal is all self-determination but we often lose our drive because the methods we employ do not work.
Utilize the tools that will best help you to learn more about how you should achieve your goal, whether that be expert help from professionals, the Internet (YouTube has been good to me), or friends that have already conquered this aspect of their lives. Be honest with yourself and recognize that what may have worked for one person may not necessarily work for you. Some people can quit a bad habit cold turkey, while others need to wean themselves off bit by bit. Try different methods until you find the one that works for you.
4. Make it Difficult to Break Your New Goal
Now here comes the hard part. I mentioned earlier that we are creatures of habit and there is nothing harder than breaking out of your comfort zone to do something that is not only unfamiliar but difficult. You’re asking yourself to give up impulsive shopping for the delayed satisfaction of saving. Instead of binge watching TV with your favorite junk food, you now have to get up and run around the gymnasium or Garrison like a gerbil on a wheel (ugh!).
It’s hard. What’s even harder though is waking up a year later on the next New Year’s Eve twenty pounds heavier or deeper in debt, forcing yourself to make the same resolutions made countless times.
If you are trying to lose weight, should you really keep all that junk food in your cupboards with such easy access when you have cravings?
If you know you will have cravings, shouldn’t you stock your cupboards with healthy, tasty alternatives so that you are not hungry all the time?
If you are trying to cut indiscriminate spending, should you really save your credit card information in your favorite shopping sites?
One thing that has worked for me is to pay my bills as soon as I am paid. I also utilize a premier plan that is inaccessible from the ATM for my savings, which I also transfer to as soon as I am paid. The opening hours are extremely inconvenient, making unplanned withdrawals difficult.
This way of living has forced me to live with what I have left. If there isn’t much left, you’re less likely to spend frivolously!
5. Set Periodic Check-Ins
Unless you are checking your progress, it is impossible to know if you are on target. I set reminders in my calendar on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to ensure that I am on track with my goals. I have friends that ask me to check in on them to help them stay on track. If we are off target, we recalibrate to bring us back on schedule. The point is not to wait until December 31 to realize that you have not achieved anything.
In summary, we are not perfect, and perfection should not be expected in achieving your goals; however, we can, with some planning, make some much-needed changes in our lives!
Have a wonderful and prosperous New Year!