Yes, You CAN Achieve Your New Years Resolution
What are your goals for next year? Is 2020 the year to finally do that thing you've always wanted to do? Whether it's finally writing that book, conquering fitness goals, or seeing that natural wonder of the world, the time is now to make a plan and make it happen.
Why now? Well, I'm a huge believer in not putting things off that can be done today. (Doesn't that sense of accomplishment make it worth the effort?) Plus, the timing is perfect. This time of year elicits a renewed energy around visions and goals. Why not make them intentional and make 2020 THE year to make it happen?!
This reminds me of a premise in the great book by Elizabeth Gilbert called Big Magic. (This is an affiliate link.) In there she talks about "Ideas" and how you can think of them as alive entities bouncing from human to human, asking to be manifested. (Ever notice how you get an idea but sit on it, then maybe a few months later somebody else has done/created/started the same idea?) A person gets an idea and they must act on it, otherwise the idea will leave and go to someone else who will manifest the idea. So if you get an idea to create or do something, the idea is speaking to you. It wants to become! It's up to you to let it. And if your resolution revolves around behavior change, I'm a firm believer that we can always re-invent ourselves.
So here's the thing: It CAN happen. But a majority of new years resolutions are dropped within a month after they start. Why? My guess is that most people have the end goal in mind --and I believe they truly do want to achieve it!-- but have difficulty with the step-by-step path to get where they want to be. However, you can make your goals S-M-A-R-T. When you do that, you are setting yourself up for success and have a clear road map of how to achieve the dream. Let me explain.
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Assignable, Realistic, and Time-bound. (Attainable or Assignable for the "A" both work, and I've seen it both ways.) This format is a way to establish goals that will be tangible and clearly define how to achieve them. Here's an example: Let's say I'm always tired and I realize I need to sleep more. Instead of the resolution saying "get more sleep at night", which is vague, it's more effective to make the goal meet all five criteria of the SMART goal format.
I'll break down each criteria in detail, and my sleep resolution example will be followed in parenthese
Specific- Pin-point exactly what you want here. It's hard to aim at something if you don't have a target. (E.g.: I resolve to get at least 7.5 hours of sleep a night.)
Measurable- If at all possible, make sure there are numbers in this part of the goal. Specifically, how do you measure change? It can be in pounds, money saved, hours in a day, etc. Be specific within what you are measuring. (E.g.: If I have to wake up at 6am, I must go to sleep no later than 10:30pm.)
Attainable/Assignable- Make sure your goal is something you can actually accomplish (going to the moon is a hard sell), and specify who will be doing what to accomplish this goal. (E.g.: Is going to bed 45 minutes earlier attainable? It is if I prioritize sleep over something else, say phone or internet time or watching tv. I am the one responsible for making these choices and getting myself to bed earlier.)
Realistic- Making vast, sweeping changes is typically not realistic for most people. Start small to make incremental changes, then you can build from there. (E.g.: Right now I average 6 hours, 45 minutes of sleep. This will be a challenge to go to bed earlier, but it's possible. Notice I am not automatically choosing to get 9 hours of sleep, for example. That's a big leap!)
Time-bound- Deadlines are important. It's hard to stay motivated when there's no end in sight, so establishing a set amount of time in which to achieve the goal is helpful. Think of it like a sprint to the finish line-- you will feel successful when you cross that finish line and will be more likely to keep the momentum going! (E.g.: I will achieve a consistent sleep schedule of 7.5 hours a night for at least 30 days in hopes to establish a new habit.)
So there's one example of how this works, but it can work for anything! The specificity of this model gives people parameters to meet their goals.
One more key point I'd like to leave you with is this: get very clear on why you are setting this goal. What makes this resolution so personal to you? If you keep that in mind, you will be more apt to wake up resolved to continue with it for another day.
I hope this pneumatic scheme helps you set a New Years resolution that is motivating. Success breeds more success, so get yourself started on the right foot by creating a resolution that is realistic and specific so that you have something to focus on.
What is your resolution this year? Share your SMART goals here; I'd love to hear them, and we can motivate each other! Here's to a joyful and fulfilling new year to come-- Cheers!