Tomorrow is the first day of 2016. Many people look at the New Year as a time to start something different. They make resolutions to be different. They see this time as an opportunity to improve their lives. In thinking about this, there are some things we need in order to actually keep our resolutions. Resolutions have to be important enough to keep us motivated and we need to have the competence and skills to achieve them. However, resolutions generally don’t have specific goals and action plans attached to them.
Frankly, I don’t like the word “resolution.” Resolutions tend to be vague statements of things we want to change and they’re rarely kept. Only 8% of people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions. Call it a resolution if you want, but make sure there are both goals and action plans.
A target and a Path
Goals and action plans send me in a particular direction. The goal is the target. It is the destination. The action plan is the roadmap to the destination. We tend to set vague goals that actually have no real destination. The result is we fail to develop an action plan that we can actually stick to.
When I set a goal, it has to be important enough to keep me motivated and big enough to produce change. Too often, we don’t set goals that are specific enough to be important. For example, “lose weight” is the number one New Year’s resolution. However, “lose weight” doesn’t have a lot of meaning. Losing weight is pretty easy. A pound is weight. That’s doable for anyone. However, making a real target – “I want to lose 30 pounds by July 1” – gives us a destination.
We can also see the action plan that may be involved. Using our 30 pounds by July 1 example, this person would have to average losing 5 pounds per month. Their diet would have to be modified (there are a host of them that probably work but I am not a dietician). There would have to be an increase in exercise. Having a specific goal allows for a path to be drawn.
Develop goals and action plans and remind yourself of them constantly. Some people have notes on their computer screens or on the dashboard of their cars. One person told me he made slides of his goals and uses them as the screensaver for his computer. Whatever method you use, remind yourself of your goals and action plans often.
Discouragement happens when we get off track. The good news is when you have goals and action plans, you can detect your diversions. Your action plan will get you back on track. Go ahead and plan for ways to get back on track when you miss it. Put that in your action plan as well.
Doubting ourselves is a great way to fail to reach a goal. When I say think positively, I don’t mean being delusional and seeing everything through a lens of rainbows and butterflies. What I am saying is that we all look for evidence to confirm what we already think. Whatever our thoughts are, we instinctively look for evidence to support those thoughts. As a result, if I think I can’t do something, I will automatically search for reasons why that belief is true. On the other hand, if I think I can accomplish something, I will naturally begin the process of figuring out what is needed to reach the destination.
Instead of a resolution, how about making some goals and action plans for 2016. Be courageous! Set some goals that are important to you – some that will keep you motivated. Make them specific and go ahead and put a date on them. Develop action plans that will let you know when you’re off track. Believe you can and you will find a way to get to your destination.
What are your goals for 2016? We would love to hear some of your plans.