Everybody makes New Year’s Resolutions. Yet, they mean very little without definitive goals, objectives, consistent action, and accountability for achieving them. In fact, New Year’s Shmew Year’s resolutions can really just be a run-of-the-mill statement that traditionally proceeds Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as festive and positive of a person as anybody out there. Yet, I know that like any goals, New Year’s resolutions take much more than an “I want to_____in 2012″ statement to be fulfilled. That’s why I endeavored to create for you a simple strategy to achieve your goals in 2012 and beyond. Following these steps will help you get out of complacency and procrastination and into progress and productivity. That said, do you want to reach your goals in 2012? If so, read further…
The Five Step Strategy
So, here’s what I want you to do:
Step One: Define Your New Year’s Resolution or Mission
First, create or think of your New Year’s resolution? If you don’t have one, just think of something you want to achieve this year that will make your life better. Keep it simple: one sentence should suffice. You need to stay focused on a specific resolution. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for distraction, overload, doubt, and failure. Once you have defined your resolution in a precise sentence, write it down somewhere prominently displayed (Ex. Bathroom mirror, etc.). Make sure it’s readily available for your eyes to look at every single day. Also, give the resolution a sense of urgency. For example, trick your mind into believing that you have to achieve it or else the world will end. Actually, you should think of something a little more realistic other than the world ending, but no less urgent. For instance, say to yourself you have to do it because your family’s wellbeing depends on it. Doing so will subconsciously cause you to think about the importance of your resolution and place the resolution high on your priority list. Not only that, you will begin to think of plans and things you have to do to fulfill the resolution.
Step Two: Assess Your Burning Desire
Second, ask yourself whether you really, really, really, really, have a desire to achieve that resolution. If you do, I now ask you: Do you really have a desire to achieve that resolution? Why? What will happen to your life if you achieve the resolution? How will you feel? In what position will you be if you achieve it? Why is this resolution really important to you? Once you effectively answer those, and similar questions, you may decide to continue reading. But be warned… you will be moving from the realm of freedom and into realm of personal responsibility and commitment. Do you really want to go? If so, read further…
Step Three: Define Your Goals
Next, create goals, objectives, and timelines to achieve your goals. All of your goals should be S.M.A.R.T (Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely). Write your goals down, and find some accountability partners to keep you on track (colleagues, etc.). Unless you know of any unyielding people in your immediate network, try to find someone outside of family and close friends. Family and friends are likely to passively hold you to your word. The last thing you need if you really want to improve your life is the co-signature of a bunch of Yes-men and Yes-women. You don’t want as accountability partners people who agree to everything you say for the sake of appeasing you. A good accountability partner is someone that can be objective at all times and keep you focused on your goals and the tasks at hand. They may even be a vested stakeholder in some way, shape, or form. For example, if you decide to use a close friend as an accountability partner, and your goal is to lose weight, promise them a gift if they hold you to your goals, keep you on task, and help you reach your desired weight. By doing so, they have a reward in it, and they will most certainly stay on you. Just make sure the reward is something that they really value; then they will undoubtedly do their part.
Step Four: Create Your Definitive ‘I WILL…’ List
Next, develop an ‘I WILL…’ statement, or list. This statement represents your plan of action. Here, describe the specific actions you will take on a consistent basis (daily or otherwise) to reach your goals. Make this statement represent your end-state vision (where you WILL BE) and everything you WILL DO in 2012 to take your life to the next level, whether that be spiritually, mentally, physically, financially, in business, at work, or otherwise. Write your I WILL… statement down and put it in a prominent place (such as your bathroom mirror) so you are inspired to do everything on the list. Keep the list reasonable, yet challenging. It’s best to write your statement down in a bulleted list. That way, it’s easier to see every specific item on that list individually. That will subconsciously tell your mind that you have to do it. It will also feel good when you are able to literally check some of those items off the list as you complete them. Be sure to share your list with your accountability partner, and have them give you their feedback as to the reasonability vs. challenge of the list. Give them a copy of the list. Moreover, you want to make sure your list is reasonable, and you could conceivably achieve every item on the list with some effort.
Step Five: Rewards or Punishment: Choose One
Finally, design a rewards and ‘punishment’ system for managing your goals, or the objectives leading up to achieving your goals. For example, if you want to lose 60 lbs within three (3) months, reward yourself if you lose 5 lbs in Week 1 (Ex. Go to a special event). Likewise, hold yourself accountable through mild punishments for not meeting your goals (Ex. Don’t buy the gift you wanted). You may even want to get an accountability partner to manage the rewards system. For instance, if you plan to purchase a new outfit after completing one of your goals, then give the money for the outfit to your accountability partner (provided you trust them). If you meet the goal, they will give you the money. If not, it stays in the bank until you meet the goal. The rewards/punishment system may seem impractical or harsh, but it’s the same thing that (1) God does with His children, (2) parents do with their children and chores, (3) businesses do with employees, (4) and countless reality shows do with contestants. Yet, many people tend to be comfortable with rewards/punishments only in the confines of formal, organized institutions. Rewards systems are one of the most powerful forms of motivation. You can effectively use rewards and mild punishments to grow your life. Why wouldn’t you want to use them?
It’s only by assessing your true desire, developing goals and objectives, creating a plan of action, and establishing rewards and/or punishments in reaching your goals that you will really make progress towards achieving them. New Year’s resolutions can become just another spoken statement, unless they’re followed by consistent action to achieve them. Whether you have a New Year’s resolution or not, you can use this strategy to reach your goals, avoid procrastination, and take your life to the next level. Sure, it’s challenging. Anything worth doing will be challenging. However, the rewards of getting where you are capable of going will far outweigh the discomforts you face along the way…
You do want to go higher, don’t you?