Friday, January 1, 2016

Setting the Perfect Resolutions

Planning on setting some resolutions for yourself this year? Hey, it's January 1, so now's the time if you are going to get to that activity. But how can you make these resolutions stick? According to this Forbes article and the University of Scranton, only 8% of people make their New Year's goals. As you sit down to plan ahead for the year (or review the plans you made this week), try some of these tactics.


Don't set one hundred resolutions. Just like my productivity journey recommendations, I would say try to cap yourself at five resolutions. If you set more than five goals for the year, chances are that you water down the focus and enthusiasm that you can put forward towards any one particular objective. Additionally, setting too many goals means you are less likely (just statistically) to complete them all. Once you recognize that you will fail at one of your goals, you may lose heart in chasing the others, causing a domino effect. Picking four or five clear goals avoids that overstretch.


While the total numbers of resolutions you make should be small, spread them across different areas of your life. Don't set five physical fitness goals. Instead, pick several different goals to enhance different areas of your life. Some of them can overlap, for sure, but separating goals helps to make them more achievable because goals in different areas will require different commitments and different timing. Stumped on what types of goals to set? You could set goals in any of these areas:

  • Career or Business
  • Finances
  • Physical Fitness
  • Family
  • Spiritual
  • Personal Hobbies
  • Experiences
  • Travel
  • Anything else

Set a Vision

Determine what accomplishing that goal means to you. If you chose a goal to lose twenty pounds, visualize why you find that goal important. You could feel better about yourself, you could have more energy, or just to look better. Whatever the reason (and it doesn't even matter if the reason is completely selfish), take time to understand your motivations for your goals. Knowing your reasons why behind your resolutions become fuel for accomplishing them.

Create a Plan

Start with between two and four big steps that you need to accomplish the goal. If you want to own your own chicken farm, perhaps your big steps would be learning about the process, obtaining equipment and chickens, and turning a profit from the business. Whatever your giant goal, just try to break it up a little so it is not so massive. Decide which step you will attack first, and then break that one up even further. Need to learn about chickens before you go buying them? Need to understand the cost of a coop? Break that step into smaller steps and then decide which step you can start by Monday, January 4 (or sooner). Start there.

Schedule Checkpoints

Open your calendar, whether Google, Outlook, or iCal, and insert event reminders to check in on your goal progress every couple of months. I would also set separate checkpoints for each resolution. This will encourage you to try to focus on one effort for a brief time before the checkpoint, even if you have procrastinated to that point. Try to indicate what you think is reasonable to accomplish by that checkpoint in the calendar event so you can compare your expectations with reality.

Write Everything Down

Whether you want to type up a list or whip out the calligraphy pen, write your goals down. This advice often appears, and yet I bet if I asked you where your goals were written down, you would not be able to show me. This Dominican University Research study showed that writing down goals (and sharing them) made individuals substantially (33%) more likely to achieve them. So write them down. Even if it doesn't help in itself, you will need the goals written to refer back to at checkpoints.

Share Your Resolutions

Post them in your cubicle and let your teammates know about them. Tweet them. Post them to your blog. Share them with your friends on Facebook. However you share them, and the Internet makes it incredibly easier to share, letting others know about your goals allows you to have accountability partners, those that will check in with you on the progress of your goals. When you are accountable to others, your ability to cheat without repurcussions goes down. Having someone to check in with you makes you feel like you need to accomplish the goals not just for your sake but for theirs.

Good Luck!

If you have a solid plan, you don't need my wishes for luck, but I do hope that you achieve everything you set out to in the new year. 2015 had its set of ups and downs. While I am certain 2016 will be the same, I wish you many more ups than downs in the year ahead. Happy New Year!