A new year = a new you, right? Or, is this just something we hope for... a false promise we make to ourselves in the excitement of a new year's potential? If so, why after only a few weeks do we lose the excitement and ultimately abandon our resolutions?
Each year, almost half of all Americans make a resolution, yet only 8% of them end up following that resolution to completion. A few of the top resolutions made each year are to save money, quit smoking, stay fit, and of course, the ultimate on this list... lose weight. All of these goals tell us that we all truly want to be a better version of our previous year's self. Why can't we stick with our resolutions?
Goals Over Resolutions
By definition, a resolution is a firm decision to do (or not do) something. But, making a firm decision in the moment and in the spirit of a new year isn't really a firm grounding to base your entire year on. Instead, set a goal.
GO BIG, Then Break It Down
Make your goal big. Huge, in fact! Just like your resolution, you have all year to work at it, so don't sell yourself short. Then, to consider this question: how is a big goal different from a resolution? You need to break it down and make your big goal more manageable with smaller, achievable goals. We'll use the example of wanting to lose 50 pounds this year. We broke that giant goal down into the three following sections: daily, weekly and monthly. Now, we can fill in these sections to give us smaller, achievable goals that help keep us encouraged, also while leading us to our big goal... one step at a time.
Your daily goals will change as you develop new habits. If you daily goal is to start waking up earlier each morning, you may find that this becomes a habitual activity and is now just part of your lifestyle. Awesome! But, remember to set a new daily goal once your previous goal is accomplished or has become part of your lifestyle. Use these daily goals to create habits that help you reach your big year-long goal.
A word of caution: Don't set too many daily goals. The key is to seamlessly integrate these new actions or habits into your daily life. Aiming for many at one time can leave you burned out.
Use your weekly goals as a checklist to make sure you're completing the right steps to reach your big goal. While daily goals help restructure your habits to reach your goals, your weekly goals are the guides that keep you on track. If you're trying to save money, it may be wise to limit eating out at restaurants to just once per week. Trying to learn a new skill? Make it your weekly goal to practice that skill for three hours a week. If you're looking to lose weight, your guide could be that you want to go to the gym three times per week. Weekly goals (like daily goals) are flexible and can change, but use them as a checkbox to make sure you're staying on track toward your big goal.
If a weekly goal is the checklist that keeps you on track, the monthly goal is the key performance indicator of how you're progressing toward your overall goal. This goal(s) should be directly related to your "big scary goal." When you take the culmination of all your monthly goals, they add up to your big New Year's goal.
Returning to our first example of losing 50 pounds, at first, it seems like a lot of weight to lose and seems intimidating. If it's broken down into monthly goals, it quickly becomes manageable at just 4.2 lbs per month! The same can be said for saving money. If you want to save $5,000 during the year, set a monthly goal of saving just over $400 a month and adjust your weekly and daily goals to help you hit this performance indicator.
You Really Can Do It
One nice big resolution is a romantic idea. It sounds great to have this one, awesome thing you want to accomplish in the next year. In reality, you'll need to accomplish a thousand little things to get to that big resolution. Break down your New Year's goals to make them manageable parts of your life. Be part of the 8% in achieving your 2016 goals!