New Year Resolutions. We all love to make them but how many of us have gone off track by the end of January? I’ve been making New Year Resolutions and setting yearly goals since I was twelve. Some years I managed to hit them all while on others I only achieve one or two. 2010 was a record year because I managed to make good on not one of my New Year resolutions. Yes you heard me right none, nill, niente, zilch. Looking back at those resolutions I was able to keep in previous years there seems to be a common thread to making them a reality.
MAKE THEM SMART
Any big goal has to be SMART; specific, measurable, agreed, realistic and time based. Goals like ‘Get Fit’ are very difficult to achieve because they are so vague. A better goal would be ‘Get fit by running the Edinburgh half marathon by May’.
MAKE THEM PUBLIC
You’ve got to make a public announcement or at least tell someone close to you who will be the kind of person who will not let you off the hook. The kind of person who every time you see them will want a status update. You’d be amazed at what you can achieve if you have some kind of responsibility to keep face with someone else.
MAKE THEM FUN
I hate to exercise but I know it is good for me and increases my energy levels. I tried jogging, squash and swimming but hated them all and they bored me to tears. However once I found cycling I discovered something I enjoyed which also kept me fit. You need to make the process of achieving your New Year resolution fun because even if you don’t achieve it you’ll have at least enjoyed yourself.
MAKE A PLAN
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. For years I would have big goals and felt enthusiastic about achieving them but didn’t follow through. For me it was therefore important to break the goal or resolution down into bite size chunks. Every day, and I mean every day, I need to be thinking about what I need to do next on my plan to take me there. There are lots of online tools to help you achieve your goals and stay on track. For example if you want to learn piano then why not sign up to an online piano course at www.peerypiano.com where you’ll have an online teacher to help you make good on your resolution.
MAKE THEM SCARY
You need to have goals that scare you a little, goals that give you butterflies on your stomach just thinking about achieving them. There is a magic in thinking big.
MAKE THEM VISIBLE
If you’re anything like me you’ve made your list, perhaps in a nice notebook or journal, and felt good about it. That’s no good. It needs to visible. The list needs to be on your fridge, as a post-it on your computer, at your bedside table, as many places as possible where you’ll see them each day.
THEN LET GO
Buddhists talk about non-attachment and while it is good to have goals it can be dangerous to become overly attached to them. I recently asked a Buddhist monk about how we can both set goals and hope to achieve them while at the same time not getting attached. He described it to me like driving a car. If you got in the car, gripped the steering wheel hard, put your foot to the floor and acted without regard to others in order to reach your destination then you have become attached. We need to be alert but adaptable while at the same time being conscious of others. This is the way to drive without becoming attached to the destination.
So as I sit here thinking about my New Year resolutions I keep all these thoughts in mind. Next year is going to be a year of adventure for my wife and I as we take a step into the unknown. What will your New Year resolutions be?