Research shows at least a third of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned before the end of January and less than 25% of them are kept long-term.
I have to admit that I have fallen into that category more than once. Sometimes we give up because our goals aren’t really clear. Sometimes we don’t know quite how to accomplish what we want. Sometimes we give up because we get distracted or get busy with other things. And sometimes we just aren’t really all that committed or the goals aren’t really all that important to us.
So how do you rescue your goals from the graveyard of resolutions? First, you need to decide whether they are something you really want or whether you just picked them because making a New Year’s resolution is what everybody does in January. Once you have decided what is worth keeping, here are nine things you can do that will help you to keep—and accomplish—your goals this year.
- Know your destination. Before setting individual goals, decide where you want to go with your life. If your goal has no relationship with your life plan, your likelihood of accomplishing it is pretty slim.
- Know the why behind your goal. Setting a goal simply because someone else thinks you need to do something or because “it sounds like a good idea” is a surefire way to end up with a failed attempt. Set goals that are important to YOU and that YOU want to achieve. Otherwise, you’re headed down the short road to frustration.
- Be realistic. Yes, shooting for the stars is wonderful, but if you don’t know how to build a spaceship, your launch isn’t going to get off the ground. No matter what the ads say, you aren’t going to safely lose 20 pounds in two weeks, you can’t legitimately earn a college degree in a month and unless you win the lottery or inherit from a rich relative, you aren’t likely to go from minimum wage to a six-figure income in a single pay period.
- Don’t be in a rush. When putting together a plan for the changes you want to make in your life (that’s what goals really are), recognize that real change doesn’t happen overnight. Most goals worth achieving are going to take some time and lots of effort. Don’t rush your planning and don’t rush your completion. Take whatever time you need to know and be focused on what it is you want to accomplish.
- Make sure you are ready to commit to what it takes to achieve your goal. If you aren’t ready to make the necessary sacrifices to get there it may not be the right time for this goal and you’re only wasting your time and frustrating yourself.
- Baby Steps. Most goals, especially larger goals are more successfully achieved when they are broken down into a series of smaller goals or actions. Planning your strategy to take advantage of a series of smaller achievements will give you a great sense of accomplishment and the motivation to continue.
- Assemble your cheerleading squad. It can be one person or a dozen. Share your goals and your plans with someone who will be supportive and who will help you stay on track—or at least pick you up and help you get back on track if the goal train derails. It is always easier to accomplish goals and make positive changeswhen we have a support network in place. Make sure your cheerleading squad is on board with your plans. If not, go find a new one. You want someone who will motivate you and celebrate you. Saboteurs need not apply.
- Be flexible. Things will come up. Timetables will need to be altered. Unexpected challenges will arise. You may be able to accomplish your goal more quickly than you planned, but very often, they take longer. Recognizing from the beginning that life and plans are not perfect will help you avoid abandoning a goal that isn’t going according to plan.
- Celebrate the achievements. You worked hard. You are achieving your goal. Celebrate the milestones along the way. Dropped a dress size? Treat yourself to a new, smaller dress. Picked up your first client? Do the happy dance. Reached your 100th blog subscriber? Post it to your followers. Recognize that you worked hard and you are progressing on your path to success. Success should always be celebrated.
What has helped you in accomplishing your New Year’s Resolutions? Do have great things planned for this year? Share them here so we can be your cheerleading squad and celebrate with you.