Resolving the Resolutions: Setting Monthly Goals, Not Yearly Aspirations

It’s January and we are all taking about setting those pesky New Years resolutions. It is funny that people spend so much time fretting about setting resolutions and then abandon them so quickly. Perhaps it’s time to consider resolving to avoid resolutions? Consider this… what about setting one short-term goal a month, rather than setting 12-month aspirations? It is far easier to accomplish a short-term need with baby steps than a deep-seated habit with will power. Here are a few tips for setting yourself up for success under this model.

• Select reasonable goals.  Don’t overcommit to more than you can reasonably achieve in a few weeks. It’s ok to stretch yourself a little, but be wary of setting yourself up for failure by overwhelming yourself with a goal that isn’t achievable after the motivation wanes.

• Don’t go it alone. Ask someone you trust, admire or aspire to emulate to help you along the way. Ask them to serve as a sounding board or a ‘check-point’ to help you over the rough patches.

• Manage your time in chunks.  Choosing a month-long goal leaves less space to ‘go off the tracks’.  Select immediate actionable steps that help you see progress.  Oh, and don’t let excuses get in your way… sometimes it’s best to just follow Nike’s advice and ‘Just Do It’.

• Have a specific plan. Write down this month’s goal and the individual steps you need to take to achieve it.  Look at the list every few days and cross off the items you have accomplished.

• Take 10 minutes a day. Schedule reminders in your calendar for small increments of time and avoid hitting the proverbial “snooze” button.

• Limit how much you plan to do.  It is far better to do one thing well than give up on everything.

• Keep track and reward success.  No matter how small your incremental success is; take a moment to enjoy it.

• Be accepting of yourself- we are only human. If you mess up, get back on your feet and start over. Don’t give up because you mess up.

Resolutions needn’t be the bad guy. Behavioral changes take time and persistence, not will-power. Keep your goals manageable. Once you attain a goal, immediately set an other and build upon your momentum. Maintain the effort you put into something and it will eventually become a habit. Voila… the solution to New Years Resolutions!