At this time of year, we reflect on the past and look forward to what we want to do and become in the next. Making goals and resolutions is common, yet it’s always easy to give up, forget about them and months down the road, regret lost time. It’s so common that some resolve not to make New Year’s resolutions. Of course, you can create new goals at any time, but never making and striving towards goals is a loss. Here are a few things I’ve noticed that have prevented me from keeping resolutions in the past:
- My goals weren’t attainable
- My goals were non-specific
- I didn’t check and rework my goals when necessary
- I didn’t have an accountability partner/mentor
When I was young, my family followed a tradition of taking time sitting down together and writing out goals for the new year. We kept them on sheets of paper in folders stuck in a bookcase. I’ve continued the tradition of writing resolutions for each new year, but I also make goals at other times. When I learned about S.M.A.R.T. goals, some of my earlier problems had a solution. S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Many companies use this system, and it is a great way to create personal goals as well. You can learn about how to write S.M.A.R.T. goals here: Writing S.M.A.R.T. Goals.
Down the road, as this article notes, you may need to rethink some of your goals as you and your circumstances change. When a goal you have written is no longer relevant, it’s time to write a SMARTER goal. The next two steps added to this are to evaluate and re-do. It helps to put your goals up in a place where you will see and be reminded of them often. You could also try setting reminders on your phone. Breaking down goals into smaller milestones along the way to your larger S.M.A.R.T. goals is a good way to keep motivated with your progress.
Choosing a person to check in with you at set times is also key for me. In some things I’m quite self-motivated and will move forward on my own. However, even in these cases, I know I can do more when someone will be following up with me. Find someone you trust who is willing to do that for you. You might offer to be their accountability partner as well! Choosing a mentor is another step that may help you rise higher than otherwise. This can be someone in a field you plan to get into or are just starting out in, anyone with more experience than you in a certain area you wish to improve in or just someone older and wiser that may help you with resolutions and goals in general.
But before doing any of this, it’s most helpful to take some time for deep thinking. What do you desire? And why? Sometimes I pass by the mirror and catch the sight of my own eyes and I’m curious about something I see there. Being a fan of the Harry Potter series, I wondered what I’d see if I had my own Mirror of Erised. But I don’t need magic to tell me. I just need time to sit and think in peace. In fact, one idea in your quiet time is to think in the reverse. What do you NOT want to do or be or to happen in 2019? What’s the worst thing you don’t want to happen?
I sat down once around a year and a half ago and wrote a poem about my worst nightmares and best dreams. Who was I in each? This led to great insight on what I wanted to be, because of what I wanted to avoid becoming! And that led to insight on what I should set goals to do! I would suggest a similar exercise before writing your goals or revising them. I wish I could claim the idea as my own, but I did it as a writing exercise from the fabulous book by Gabriele Lusser Rico called Writing the Natural Way. It just so happened that this writing exercise not only made for good writing, but for good goal creating!
What strategies do you have for making and keeping resolutions and goals? What do you want to see in the mirror in 2019?