At the start of each New Year, most of us have a few resolutions in mind. With good intentions, we think of ways we can improve ourselves and our world around us. Unfortunately, the majority of us do not put these “resolutionary” ideas into action. Why is that?
Some of the more popular resolutions I repeatedly hear are losing weight, exercise more, get organized, spend more time with the kids, keep better in touch with friends, get out of debt, quit smoking or drinking or simply to enjoy life more. All fantastic ideas, no doubt.
I have made and not kept as many resolutions as the next person. A few years ago, however, I was actually able to follow through with one. It changed my life.
My resolution was to figure out why most of us do not keep New Year’s resolutions! Every resolution I have ever heard has been a good idea. Then why are they rarely even started?
Resolutions usually end up being big goals. Lose weight, get out of debt, write your first novel, join the Peace Corps, etc., etc. Goals of that size need a bit of thought to achieve. Bottom line, we need to develop plans made of baby steps.
Many of us subconsciously set ourselves up for failure by choosing huge resolutions with absolutely no idea how to bring them into fruition. We become overwhelmed and intimidated by the simple thought of our resolution and nothing gets accomplished.
To accomplish any goal I set, I need two things; a plan and a touchstone. My dad used to remind me when we were playing chess, a bad plan is better than no plan. Meaning, have a plan in place to reach your final goal.
First, define exactly what your final goal is. Then, with each move you make, check yourself to ensure it’s in the direction of your goal. If you find one of your steps is not in alignment with your goal, simply realign it.
Make deadlines for yourself. Realistic deadlines. Reward yourself for meeting each one. Just as important, if you find yourself experiencing a challenging day, and you’ve gone off in the wrong direction, don’t throw in the towel. Simply think about what you need to change to get back on your goal path, and continue on from there.
We all fall off the wagon at times. The important thing is not to give up. I’ve had countless instances of taking ten steps forward and then two steps back. I try my best to look at it as eight steps forward, with a small learning curve thrown in.
Next, you need a touchstone. Someone you can connect with to help you define your big goal, assist with your initial baby step plan and touch base with along the way so you don’t feel alone in your efforts.
It’s human to need encouragement. I consider myself a pretty self-motivated person. It would be difficult, however, to continually move forward without someone I can converse with regarding ideas, setbacks and possible changes I may need to make.
This individual can be anybody, but they should possess some knowledge or desire for what you are doing. With today’s technology, you can find this individual over the computer via forums, message boards and chat rooms without ever having to leave the house.
I wrote my first memoir about five years ago. My touchstone was a young woman I had never met, but was introduced via email through a mutual friend. My touchstone was a writer and it was fantastic to have her read my writing along the way and offer her opinion as a fellow writer. Her insight, guidance, brainstorming and cheerleading were priceless. I don’t think I could have finished my book without her.
So make your resolutions. Start with one at a time. And then revel in kicking each one’s ass. Define your ultimate goal, put together a baby step plan on how to achieve it, find a touchstone and get to work. No excuses.