The most common question that I get asked around the New Year (besides “how was your holiday?”) is “Are you doing any New Year’s Resolutions?” The answer is yes, but it’s much more than that. Instead of resolutions, I’m taking it a step further and setting goals for myself to accomplish this year. I know your next question, and here’s the difference between the two. Making a resolution is an expression of intention; setting a goal is an expansion on that intention that formalizes an end result to reach for.
I’ll be completely honest with you when I say that I have never successfully completed a New Year’s Resolution. On the flip side of that, over the past year, I have set challenging goals for myself in many different aspects of my life and have successfully completed all of them. This difference in success rate isn’t coincidental. If you point me in the right direction and tell me to shoot an arrow, I’m going to fire away, but I won’t be successful at hitting a specified target if I don’t know what I’m shooting at. If you point me in the right direction and tell me to shoot an arrow to hit the small yellow circle at the center of the target, I have a much better idea of what I’m trying to work for.
Resolutions aren’t a bad thing. On the contrary, every goal should start by expressing your intention to make a change or to do something that is important to you. Statements such as “I want to lose weight” or “I want to complete more volunteer work” are excellent resolutions and great initial points for goal-setting; so start there. Take a moment to write down five resolutions (or two, or ten) for yourself; things that you truly want to accomplish over the course of the next year.
Here’s the next step: Make them into goals. Before my most recent weight loss endeavor, I made resolution after resolution to “lose weight”, but never set up anything tangible. This goes back to firing the arrow. You can point in a direction and shoot, but unless you have a target, you’ll never know how successful you are. Look over every resolution that you wrote down and turn that resolution into a goal. A resolution such as “I want to lose weight” can be turned into a goal by saying “I want to lose 30 pounds in 6 months” or “I want to be at a goal weight of 185 by December 31st.” Be specific with these goals and give them a target date; this way, it’s much easier to look back on your goals to determine if you were successful.
Finally, come up with a plan to achieve your goals. Some of your resolutions and goals will be simple and some may be more difficult, but all of them should come with a plan. A failure to plan is a plan to fail, so do your homework. If you want to lose weight, develop a plan that is attainable that you can stick to. If you want to be a better spouse, figure out how you want to achieve it as soon as you can. A successful product or business comes with lots of careful and intricate planning; so it should be with your meaningful goals.
My next post in a few days will divulge some of the goals I’m targeting for 2014! I challenge you all to construct your own, and if you feel comfortable enough, feel free to share them in the comments section. You may be able to give some great inspiration to others who are also looking to improve themselves!