Making New Year’s Resolutions that Stick
It’s that time of year again, when all the gifts, shopping, decorations and holiday meals are behind us. Slowly but surely, we’re all starting to breathe in … and exhale. For many of us, we’ve been thinking about this time for months now. In the back of our minds, or maybe in the front of our minds, we’ve decided once and for all it’s time to make some changes in this camp!
Maybe it’s starting a new business venture. That idea that has been nagging you for years, that you’ve been too scared to pursue... Maybe it’s a new ministry… an idea that will change lives or soften hearts…
Or perhaps it’s more personal: a change of mindset or shift in focus. Maybe God has been calling you to be more thoughtful or more disciplined or maybe just spend more time with Him.
So what’s the key to taking the first step? More importantly, what’s the key to taking the last step?
There are a zillion first steps every January. That’s why the gym is packed on January 2nd! That’s why enrollment for education courses and dating sites and higher in January, plus more business plans … you get the idea. But many of those leaps of faith become smaller and smaller as January 31 approaches and by Valentine’s Day many are a faint memory.
The harsh reality is that most of us will never reach the last step; not for lack of intention or commitment, but because execution just isn’t our strong suit. Bottom line, we just don’t know how to make it happen, or ultimately how to keep it happening. It’s a very tough question because clearly the solution varies a bit from situation to situation. But there are three common strategies that I’ve found will help almost everyone have a much better chance of actually reaching their goals for 2017.
1. Identify the Goal – Sometimes we have so many ideas in our head that it’s hard to really hone in on what we want. Begin by identifying your #1 goal; what does the end game look like? Open a restaurant, lose 20lbs, spend more time with family, etc. Some of us have a lot of unrelated goals. If that’s the case for you, resist the urge to try to do everything at the same time. Repeat this process for each goal and keep your plans separate. If you try to do it all at the same time and with no organization, it’s a lot less likely you’ll succeed.
2. Make a list – Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Writing down our ideas allows us to provide visual organization to our thoughts. This simple action helps us ponder our intentions and consider whether our actions can support them. List 5-10 actions that will help you meet the goal you identified in step #1. You may be surprised that when you put the pen to paper, some of your ideas may no longer seem to fit or a few new ideas may suddenly appear. It’s a process that’s worth repeating over a few days as you continue to consider exactly what you need to do to get a plan you feel somewhat comfortable with.
3. Create the plan – I’m sure you’ve heard, “The difference between a dream and a goal is the plan” (or lack thereof). Don’t let the dates stress you. In the beginning these dates will change – often. But the mere process of assigning dates to your actions will provide your own accountability and increases the likelihood you’ll stick to your plan. One of the best things about resolutions in the New Year is that they provide hope that we can be better and do better. They remind us that there is still time to change and gives us a life marker that signifies when we made the change. Remind yourself that diving into new territory, living out new experiences and testing new waters can actually be fun. We only live once – this is our time to make it count!