The excitement has calmed, the sparklers have gone out, and the champagne bottles are empty; now it's time to think about what you want for yourself in this new year. Year over year, legions of people make new year’s resolutions and year over year, decidedly less amounts of people actually keep them. The idea of making resolutions has, in many cases, become synonymous with empty promises. So how can you hold yourself accountable to those changes you want to make in your life? Why not create actionable goals with bite sized steps that you can more easily sink your teeth into?
Associate with a word or a theme
By tagging the year with a word or a theme, you’re creating an association that you can be mindful of all year long. For example, my theme for 2011 was “abundance” and I dedicated all my activities to creating abundance in all areas of my life--from love to a new home to generating new business opportunities. I listened to lectures, repeated affirmations and used guided meditations, all year long, all centered on this theme. I found that zeroing in one theme helped tremendously with focus.
Set up a concrete plan that includes definitive steps
Goals are less lofty hurdles when you can see a clear path to achieving them. For example, if you are resolving to find a new job in the new year, take a moment to sit down, consider carefully and list the steps that will aid you in accomplishing this. What companies are aligned with your desires for your ideal position? What research will you need to do? What websites will you need to visit? With whom might it be a good idea to network? With a plan in place, you’re less likely to end up in a rut of repeat actions.
Set mini-goals that achieve your overall resolution
During this year, I plan to continue to work toward optimal physical health for my body. This means daily exercise and pushing myself to do new things. But this is a goal I’ve had every year; how do I keep myself from falling off? By setting a more concrete goal attached to the overarching one, which is to complete a half marathon next fall. Obviously I can’t go from the couch to 13 miles without training! Getting my body ready for the half will help me to achieve my overall fitness goal. This also brings me to my next suggestion….
Find someone to hold you accountable
We’re more apt to stay on track when we know that someone is watching. In my case, my running buddies will hold me to getting out and hitting the pavement. So state your plans out loud to a friend, a trainer, a member of the same social club—anyone who is willing to call you out if they notice that you’ve been slacking.
Give yourself reminders
Stick post-it notes to your mirror, make lists, create vision boards, repeat mantras, blog about it—whatever your method, just be sure to surround yourself with visual reminders to help you stay on course. I like to use Pinterest for vision boards, and I keep lists on lists on lists in my blackberry.
Do you make new year’s resolutions or create goals at the start of the year? What are they? How do you stay on track to completion?