Here we are again, heading into a brand-new year with a list of resolutions. Throughout my seasoned age, let’s just say I’ve made my fair share of New Year Resolutions over the years. Sadly, with little or nothing to show for my well-intentioned desires.
A fresh, new year drives millions of us to spark recurring themes of positive change. The desired changes we seek run the gamut from eating less, exercising more, saving money, learning a new skill, spending more time with family, getting organized, etc., etc., etc.. Unfortunately, once that new-year-motivation-burst wears off, many of us struggle to fulfill the promises we made to ourselves, causing our purposeful resolves to dissolve.
So—whyyyyy? Why does this occur?
The most obvious reason is because it’s no easy task to change long-standing, ingrained habits. But also, our resolutions lack the desperate need for an added umph. The dictionary describes a resolution as a firm decision to do or not do something—being determined or resolute. Many of us write out lists of desirable wishes though, rather than solid, strategic goals accompanied by a plan. I’m sure you’ve heard it said, A goal without a plan is just a wish.
Right. Our long lists of hopeful wishes have no umph for positive success without a plan to accomplish our objectives.
Sometimes, we wish with all our might. Sometimes, we repeatedly declare our best intentions, thinking if we speak our wishes long and loud enough, they will come true. Our wishes and intentions fall flat without solid plans. As a result, another year goes by without any lasting, positive change.
If we don’t have specific plans to accompany our goals, we’ll suffer several revolutions of failed resolutions.
How did I miss this tremendous grasp of the obvious? I’m not sure how many of us have, but I, for one did.
For the sake of an example, let’s examine the resolution of losing weight, which has been a never-ending quest for me. (The fact that I have an affinity for sweets and an unbreakable bond with bread doesn’t help matters.) Perhaps many of us desperately desire to lose weight, but we’ve never devised a specific plan with strategic steps to overcome our tendencies to overindulge.
But, Eureka! Using weight loss as my own example goal, here are a few simple ideas for a plan that can move me past the wishing and wanting and move me forward to success, as follows:
- If I don’t buy the items I wish to avoid, I won’t partake. I can’t eat what isn’t readily available. (Action step: Be mindful of what I purchase and allow in my home.)
- If I have healthy alternatives on hand, I’ll be able to reach for items that are beneficial to me rather than detrimental. (Action step: Take the time to stock and/or prepare healthy go-to snacks and meal options for when the grazing grizzlies attack.)
- If I allow myself to make gradual changes, I won’t become overwhelmed or defeated. (Action step: Celebrate any progress or small victories along the way—but not with a jumbo hot fudge sundae and ½ of a strawberry pie! Wink, wink.)
- If my goal is important to me, I’ll be less likely to give up. (Action step: Determine the value and benefit of my goal to help me remain motivated.)
See how the development of specific action steps make any goals more attainable?
“The difference between what you were yesterday and what you will be tomorrow is what you do today.” – Stephen Pierce
We can apply custom-made principles and action steps to any goals we have which will provide us with better chances of successful achievement. We must be cautious, however in a couple of areas:
- Limit goals to a manageable amount. At the start of a new year, we may feel inspired to change our world by breaking 10 bad habits, learning 25 new languages, and taking up 11 new hobbies. As great as this sounds, we are not superheroes. Taking on more than we’re able to dedicate ourselves to will wear us thin. Instead, make a list of goals in order of priority. The items we feel “meh” about (usually at the bottom), need to take a hike for another time. If we spread ourselves too thin with too many objectives, we are destined to sabotage all our efforts.
- Want it bad enough. Plain and simple, if we want to accomplish a goal bad enough, we need to want it bad enough. All the proposed plans, strategies, and action steps we devise will do us no good if we do not want our goal bad enough to put forth the effort (and often hard work) to bring about change. If we want something bad enough, we can achieve it. If we don’t—well—we won’t.
Let’s go full-force into the year 2023, with this new mantra:
A dream written down becomes a goal
A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan
A plan backed by action becomes reality
Wishing you God-speed on your journey. Happy New Year!