There comes a time every year, usually around the end of the year, when we consciously think about what is to come. We make a plan with respect to this new beginning in hopes that things will be different. The plan could be about changing old habits, making new ones, learning something new, or achieving personal growth. Becoming fitter, more forgiving, or more assertive are often on ‘to do’ lists for people! Most of us make these lists with great gusto, and even manage to start off with a bang, but more often than not, we end up losing steam after some time. So why is it so difficult to keep the promises we make to ourselves?
Are you setting specific action steps?
According to experts, one of the main reasons it is difficult to maintain momentum with New Year goals is because the goals are not specific enough. It is common to set broad or generic goals such as – get fitter, or become more organised. These may define what you ultimately want, but don’t really mean much in terms of specific actions. What experts say is that it is more effective to outline very specific goals, or to break up the ultimate aim into more measurable and smaller goals. When you can see yourself achieving these smaller goals, it becomes easier to stick to the grand plan.
Are your goals personally meaningful?
Another interesting tip prescribed by experts is to think deeply about our goals. New Year’s resolutions have become such a cliché that many of us don’t really give ourselves the time to think deeply about the plans we make. We often get influenced by what others want to achieve or what we think is expected of us. But the fact is that a goal will be easier to achieve when you really want it. So, the key to achieving your New Year’s resolutions is to think about whether it really is what you want and make sure you set out your goals accordingly. Own your goals and make them meaningful.
How committed and dedicated are you?
The most common reason for slipping is because we don’t see instant success. You try once, you fail, you start again, you fail again, and at this point we lose steam. It is important to view minor setbacks or failures as temporary rather than permanent. It is natural to get disheartened with failure and want to give up completely, but the chances of actually achieving the resolutions we have made are much higher if we are prepared to handle setbacks from time to time. In the beginning, these setbacks may come often, but overtime they will reduce as we learn and readjust our plan. As they say, the road to success is paved with many failures.
Are you measuring your success and failure?
An age old method of sticking to our goals and achieving something worthwhile is to keep a record of the entire process, complete with all the failures and successes. Whether it is in the form of a web log or a plain old journal, make sure to spend time creating a record of your effort, with all the setbacks and successes you encounter. This will give you the motivation to stick with it. Not only is this a good way to know the progress you are making, but also to reflect on all the experiences and learning along the way. So, journaling not only helps spur you on, but is an effective tool to get the most from the process itself.
Who can hold you be accountable?
Sharing your goals and progress with others is a good idea, as it means having someone besides you to keep a tab on your progress. We are more motivated to stick to plans and goals when other people know about them; it’s just common psychology. Having a goal that no one but you knows about means it is easier to let it slip, as you have no one to answer to but yourself, and you have already given up. Sharing your plans and dreams with friends and family also means you can receive encouragement and support from an external source, which is always a good thing. Making New Year resolutions is, of course, the easy part, and then comes the part of achieving them. But with these tips shared by psychologists and experts, sticking to our goals and plans can become a little bit easier. The most useful advice among all these tips is of course to think long and hard about what we really want. Once we have that, what remains is to think of small steps in order to achieve what we want, be creative, disciplined and most importantly, try to have fun along the way!
About the Author
Richard McMunn, the founder and director of the UK’s leading career website How2become.com, helps people prepare for and pass recruitment process in order to acquire their dream job. The website offers a wide range of books, dvds and courses for those who want to take their preparation to the next stage. You can also connect with How2become on YouTube.