Coming up with doable new year’s resolutions can be kind of tricky. And sticking with them is even tougher. Most of us ditch our new year’s resolutions by mid-February, and I think that’s because we tend to over commit. For a long time I was staunchly anti-new year’s resolution, but I think that with some introspection we really can choose new year’s resolutions and make them stick.
So, how do we do that? Hatch a plan. With incremental steps that we can really stick to. Saying “I’m going to lose weight this year” or “I’m going to stop multitasking” feels too broad. But what if we broke those good ideas down into doable steps?
I think that sometimes we look at new year’s resolutions not as a chance to change a habit but as a way to chastise ourselves for something we see as a flaw. We make these proclamations from a place of guilt. Instead of resolutions, let’s set goals for the new year!
Back when I had a corporate job, the company I worked for was big on classes for employees. It was one of the few things that I loved about working where I did. You could sign up for classes on everything from Photoshop to dealing with difficult people to setting smart goals. The smart goals glass changed how I thought about tackling big tasks, and I think the lessons there apply beautifully to new year’s resolutions.
Basically, the instructor talked about setting SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Timely.
Making SMART New Year’s Resolutions
If you think of new year’s resolutions as goals, you can use the SMART formula to create a plan. So, let’s break down “I’m going to lose weight” into a SMART goal
Specific – Instead of saying “I’m going to lose weight,” let’s get specific. Maybe you want to lose 10 pounds. Maybe you want to fit into your favorite pair of skinny jeans again. You want something that you can truly check off when you’ve achieved it.
Measurable – Making new year’s resolutions that are measurable means that you can break them down into smaller pieces. If you decide that you’re going to lose 10 pounds, you can easily mark your progress on the scale and make sure you’re on track.
Achievable – Set yourself up to succeed. Don’t resolve to lose 150 pounds, even if that’s what you’d really like to eventually do. You can always set another goal later on. I think this is the component that a lot of our new year’s resolutions are most strongly lacking. I’m all for aiming high, but sticking with an achievable goal puts you on track to achieve it.
Results-focused – It might be trite, but keeping your eye on the prize really does work. There’s even science backing that up. It’s easy to get discouraged when you feel like you’re off track, and that doesn’t help you reach your overall resolution. If you’re trying to lose weight, for example, don’t get bummed if the numbers on the scale go up and down a bit. Stay oriented on the overall goal, and you’ll be able to take pitfalls in stride.
Timely – Say when, and choose your time frame thoughtfully. Losing 10 pounds by January 10th isn’t realistic. Doing it by March 10th certainly is. Setting a time frame for your new year’s resolutions forces you to think about the steps you need to take to get there and when those things need to happen.
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