New Year Resolutions!!! Just a cliché? Another ritual you go through knowing it won’t matter? Or something you do with full earnestness? (even if you aren’t always able to stick to them)
New Year is one of the few festivals that celebrates the passage of time, and makes us think of the year that presents itself before us. I like to use this opportunity to revisit my commitment to personal growth and set up a framework to ensure I utilize the New Year effectively to drive my goals.
I know people who say why wait for New Year to make resolutions, I can make them any time. Well, sure, you can. But do you? How often in the past year have you sat down to review your personal goals, track where you are and make an action plan? An advantage this occasion gives us is that it provides a predesigned time framework which we can fit our action plan and monthly review into. And we always get a reminder that it’s “that time” of the year again
As long as you are determined to make and achieve your resolutions, it doesn’t matter when you make them. The three simple steps below are designed to ensure you succeed:
- Step One – Goal Setting: Whether you will even get close to achieving your resolutions is often clear at this stage itself. Setting the goals right and setting the right goals is the first step towards achieving them.
- Identify Areas of Focus for the year. Start by identifying your area of focus for improvement for this year. It could be health& fitness, career, relationships, home, charity etc. I know you want to focus on them all but prioritize, identify the top one or two and remember that you can choose again next year. Once the larger category is determined, setting goals will be easier.
- Quality over Quantity. Make fewer and more clearly defined and important resolutions. Taking on too much will not allow you to focus your energy.
- Make your Resolutions Personal. Your goal should be about something you feel passionately for and not something someone else feels you should do. Your commitment and efforts will only be for the goals you believe in.
- Try to Sync your Resolutions with your larger Life Goals. If your life goal is to achieve a defined level of success by a specific stage in your life, work backwards and identify what you need to do NOW, in this year. It could be ensuring you keep yourself updated in your area of expertise, investing in networking, getting additional qualification or any other. Amit’s life goal was to be making a difference in the lives of underprivileged people so one of Amit’s resolutions for the last year was to spend at least 5 weekends per quarter with an NGO which imparted vocational skills to people below the poverty line.
- Apply SMART. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic & Time bound goals are not just for the workplace. Any goal should follow the SMART principle. So your resolution cannot be to just lose weight. It would have to be “I will lose 6 kgs this year at a pace of not less than half a kilo per month and not more than a kilo in any month” Quantifying goals helps in tracking achievement.
- Step Two – Action Planning:Now that your goals are in place, it’s essential to put in place an action plan of how you’ll go about achieving them.
- Break Down your Goals into a Series of small Steps/ Milestones. E.g. If your larger goal is to master a new area, have milestones attached to each step you have to take: such as “read the manual” as a first milestone, “view all webcasts” as a second milestone, maybe “attend training” as third, “start practising” could be fourth and so on till you get the certification or level of proficiency that you desire.
- Attach action steps and a timeline to each milestone. Having action steps and a deadline for each milestone is essential. To take the above example further, you might decide to curtail you TV viewing or facebook updating time to ensure you read and make notes from X number of pages each day to achieve the first milestone.
- Track Progress continuously and tweak your plan if required. The moment you let go of tracking is when you may start losing momentum
- Step Three – Staying on TrackI know this is the tough one especially given our busy and sometimes unpredictable lives but, believe me, it can be done.
- Write It Down. Writing down your goals and action plan and putting them up where you can see them ensures recall and helps firm resolve. This will help you draw up a definitive plan, track it effectively and give you the satisfaction of ticking off every step that you complete.
- Share It. Building a support system has been identified as one of the key factors for people who managed to achieve their goals so tell your family and friends. Start a buddy system where you support your friends on their resolutions and they support you. It’s always hard to give up on something people know about and are encouraging you for.
- Review & Revise. Set a timeframe for regular review and make sure you do it. Review progress, note what went right and what didn’t, find what you need to do differently, if at all and update the remaining plan.
- Celebrate Small Wins. When you review, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for achievements. Celebrating small wins will keep you motivated for the long haul. (Just ensure your celebration is not detrimental to your goal like my friend who’d reward herself with a triple scoop, extra chocolate fudge sundae every time she lost half a kilo!!)
- Focus on a Positive Vision of the Future. People who focus on the benefits of success have a significantly higher chance of fulfilling their goals than those who focus on the downside of failure. Our mind gets energized by a positive vision whereas it is very difficult to really put your heart into something where the only reason pushing you is the fear of how bad it could be if it didn’t work.
Maybe all of us won’t achieve 100% of our resolutions but even if you managed to do 70% that’s far better than giving up or doing nothing at all. There may be the occasional lapses but treat them as temporary setbacks and focus on getting back on track. Just one day has passed; the whole year beckons us, full of promise. I look forward to hearing about all your success stories of personal change and growth and pray this starts a cycle of rejuvenation for you every year.
For training programs or personal coaching on goal setting, driving change, increasing personal effectiveness contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
An adaptation of this post has been published in The Financial Express as part of Shweta Handa-Gupta’s guest column
Copyright ©2012 Shweta Handa-Gupta. All rights reserved.