“Research has shown that, after six months, fewer than half the people who make New Year’s resolutions have stuck with them, and, after a year, that number declines to around ten percent.” [San Francisco Chronicle |1.4.10]
With stats like that, what’s the point of making resolutions? It’s the time of year that everyone makes the decision to be better at one thing or another. It’s also an uphill battle because of one little thing – YOU…and me, too. All of us.
While we may WANT to change, it’s the required HABITS and new routines that’s tough for us to wrap our arms around. Change involves planning and long-term commitment to a reasonable, new way of doing things.
Do these resolutions sound familiar?
1. Lose weight/get healthier
2. Get a better job/make more money
3. Go back to school/learn something new
4. Relax more/spend more time with friends and family
5. Get more organized/manage time better
They should. Well, they do to me. All of them have been on my own “new year to do list” at one point or another in my life. In fact, I’ve been working on #4 for much of 2010…more on that in a bit.
Change is no easy feat, especially the part about sticking to a reasonable plan. Anybody can come up with a plan but it takes some forethought to create something you can ACTUALLY stick to. It might help to talk it through with people you trust to get their feedback. They’d probably tell you that trying to change every aspect of your life is, in fact, not only unreasonable, but also unhealthy and sets you up for failure.
Some of us can easily get up an dust off our backsides and try again, but there are many of us who just fall into a rut and throw our hands up the air. So, again I ask, what’s the point of making resolutions? And, again I say it’s a struggle.
BUT…you can choose the direction your life is going in AND you can choose which goals you will focus on first. You can be REALISTIC about how to incrementally and systematically make changes. There are specific things you can do to stay inside the 10% of people who keep their goals alive throughout the year.
Zig Ziglar’s Seven Steps to Goal Setting
I happen to like Zig Ziglar’s seven steps because they make sense to me and because they can be applied to both personal and business goals. Plus, they’re only seven steps…just seven things to help anyone stay focused.
1. Identify your goals – write them down
2. Identify why you want to reach that goal – list the benefits
3. List obstacles you have to overcome
4. Identify the people, groups, and organization you need to work with
5. Identify what you need to know – list the skills
6. Develop a plan of action
7. Put a date on when you expect to achieve the goal – set a deadline
Here’s a quick example of how you can use Ziglar’s process. You could say: I want to lose 50 pounds…or you can be be reasonable and realistic and replace that statement with: I want to lose 10 pounds by March 31, 2011 (i.e., the 1st step toward the overall goal of losing 50 lbs).
Then, follow up with the things that might make it difficult to lose those pounds (e.g., everyone around you eats junk food). Really put your goal(s) through all of the seven steps.
Other Things You’ll Need Besides Zig
Are you thinking that maybe that’s ridiculous? …that losing 10 pounds in three months would take too long, particularly if you want to lose 50 pounds? Ziglar’s goal setting process works but you will also need:
Patience, Patience, and More Patience! Remember to pace yourself and to give enough time to achieve your goals. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? Slow and steady wins the race. If I come with any other clichés, I’ll let you know…but I think you get the picture.
Positive Vibes. You’ll want to have doses of positivity for when you come across a few bumps in the road. You will inevitably come face-to-face with road blocks, so find out what makes you happy and keep it in your back pocket. Maybe it’s your favorite music or writing with your favorite pen. Whatever it is, go find it now. Have more than one thing that lifts your mood? Even better. More aces in your pocket. Or up your sleeve. Or wherever you choose to keep them.
People. The right people with their own positive vibes also help with those bumps in the road. They can be sources of strength and motivation. Keep them close by.
It’s harder to make several changes simultaneously, so try focusing on one goal. Sometimes, becoming successful in one area will have a positive impact on other parts of your life.
This seems to be working for me. I’ve been focusing on spending more time with family – without rushing and making mental notes about everything I need to do. Making time to be with the people I love actually elevated me to the top of my to do list. This made me happier and less stressed, two things that were also on my list.
Give it a shot and let me know what worked and what didn’t.