Maybe you don’t like making New Year resolutions because you end up giving up on them midway through January. Perhaps you think the whole concept of New Year resolutions is rather silly because you’ve made the same goal every year, but, for various reasons, you have never been able to follow through on it. But if you’re willing to try the whole goal-setting thing again, here are five ways to help you meet whatever resolutions you make for the year 2012.
1. Imagine where you want to be by December 2012. Do you see yourself working at a better job? You might see yourself at graduate school working on your master’s degree. Envision your future and write down where you’d ideally like to be by the end of the year. “Being able to visualize the finish elicits a feeling of closeness to the goal,” says Rajesh Bagchi, Ph.D., author of a study on goal setting. The visualization technique should give you a good idea of what you’d want to be doing and where you want to be in life in a year’s time.
2. Now think about how you can begin to actualize that goal. A good place to start is to get your family and friends on your side. That way, they can remind you of your goals and the importance of them if you feel yourself starting to slip. Who knows — maybe your loved ones might have the same goals in mind and you can help each other to reach them. “When you enlist others to help you out, you are empowering those support individuals by putting responsibility and power in their hands,” says Joanna Lindenbaum, author of Soulful Coaching for Busy Women. Support groups are always helpful.
3. The next thing you should do in order to achieve your goals is to make them countable in some way. For instance, if one of your goals is to lose weight, you might say that you want to lose a certain number of pounds within a certain amount of time. Your plans to do this can also be quantifiable. Maybe, in order to lose weight, you want to exercise for a certain number of minutes per day, and consume a certain number of calories. Making your goals measurable is a good way to make them easier to keep track of. The SMART mnemonic says that goals should be “specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.”
4. Breaking your goals into smaller steps and creating a strategy is another way to make big goals look more obtainable. For instance, if you want to write a novel, break the process up into small steps. If you want to write the rough draft in two months, try writing 1000 words a day. Or you can say you want to write a certain number of words per week. Maybe you want to go even smaller and say you want to write just 200 words per hour. Whatever your goal is, make sure it’s tailored to the time you have.
5. Remember to give yourself a break and a reward for accomplishing your goals—no matter how small those goals may be. Don’t make so many New Year resolutions that they become overwhelming or that you have to stress yourself out in order to achieve them. Plan days when you can rest and relax. Reevaluate your goals at certain points throughout the year so you can see if there may be a better way of accomplishing them. Maybe you’ve realized that you really aren’t all that interested in learning how to play the piano after all, and instead, you’d like to take up pottery. Allow yourself to adapt throughout the year — and good luck on keeping your resolutions!