New Years. It is a time to spend with family and friends. It is a time for partying and staying up late (at least until midnight.) And, finally, it is a time for New Year’s Resolutions. It is a time for change, to break the monotony of your current life. But, many people make the resolutions and then they fall flat and fail within months of trying to do them. The best example of this is the ever popular “I’m going to get in shape this year” resolution. If you are a gym-goer you know how crowded your local gym gets in January and even February but by March it has returned to the same status quo. So, what then makes a good goal? What are good goals?
Let’s examine that first. Here are a few things that I recommend that have worked well for me in the past. If you have ever heard of “S.M.A.R.T Goals” you will find similarities here, as that is how I have always achieved my goals.
Tip #1: Only create one or two goals, definitely no more than three.
Reason: When you clearly have only one or two things to achieve, you can focus on them that much more. It is the same as multi-tasking essentially. You can get one thing done faster and more completely if you only focus on that one thing versus trying to handle multiple things at once. So, with only one or two or three goals, you shouldn’t be so overwhelmed that you quit.
Tip #2: It is not enough to have a goal, but a plan of action.
Reason: Many people can create a goal like, “This year I will get in shape.” You may ask, what is the problem with this? Well, it’s vague. There is no plan of action. Create one. Let’s use the above example. “This year I will get in shape by eating more fruit and exercising more at my gym.”
Tip #3: Be as specific as possible.
Reason: It is one thing to say that you will get into shape this year, but what does that actually mean? Does that mean you will get the six-pack you’ve always dreamed of having? Does that mean dropping two pants’ sizes? Or does that simply mean losing one pound or one kilogram per month? What is it? Define it. And then, come up with a plan of attack for doing it. So, taking the example above, we could say something like: “This year I will lose two pounds per month by exercising more at my gym and eating healthier foods like fruit in order to get into shape.” We have a goal, a plan of attack, and we are specific. This is how you should make your resolutions, and write them down. I always feel as though writing down your resolutions commits you to it more than just saying it to yourself.
– While all of this may be good now and you feel as though you are ready to go, you aren’t. –
Tip #4: Have an incentive.
Some may ask, “Isn’t the incentive the feeling you get by losing two pounds per month? Isn’t the incentive getting into shape or looking better?” My response is, NO. Those are results, not incentives.
To have a good example, let’s put it into the context of bodybuilders. A bodybuilder may say that they want to gain 5 lbs of muscle this year, albeit it will actually probably be a lot more. So, they will eat more meat, increase their protein intake, and get jacked for lack of a better phrase. But, there has to be some sort of incentive pulling them along. That incentive is a cheat day. Every bodybuilder or athlete I know has one. Maybe it’s one day per week, one day per month, but it’s a day where they abandon their rules in order to give into their carnal desires of maybe that bag of potato chips, or a scoop of that ice cream they have been salivating about. By creating some sort of incentive throughout your resolution, or at the end of your resolution, that you ONLY do if you complete it will make you work that much harder for it. The key here is that you have to be true to yourself and ONLY give it to yourself if you earn it. That will make it be that much better.
In the example above of getting into shape. Maybe one plan of attack is eating healthier so you cut out your love of buffets. Well, perhaps an incentive then is you treat yourself to a buffet at the end of each month or every two months.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at some of my resolutions for 2017.
Resolution 1: I will successfully pay off all of my credit card debt by putting at least half of my paycheck aside each month.
Resolution 2: I will finish writing the first draft of my third novel (title still undecided) by the end of the academic school year (July 2017).
Resolution 3: Assuming I complete the first two resolutions, my third resolution will be to publish my second novel, The Curse of Pirini Lilapa, by the end of 2017 in both e-book and paperback forms.
Resolution 4: I will begin work on my 3-year Professional Development Plan (PDP), in order to move from a probationary to a professional teaching license by the year 2020.
Okay, many of you are probably wondering, what gives, I have already disavowed my rules of no more than three resolutions. To that point I say, I haven’t. Although there are four, resolution three can truly only happen if the first two are complete and then resolution four is an ongoing one, to be started this year but not completed. Also, I know that my first resolution will be complete as of February or March this year, so my only huge resolution that I’m focused on is number two.
To an extent, I know that all of these are within my grasp if I choose to really go after them. I am confident I can get these done. Also, I have an incentive. Something I want to do if I accomplish all of them (especially number 2) is to take a grand vacation in the summer of 2017. I will want to take a break from writing for a little while, hence the reason I want to finish it before I go. And then if I do manage to publish my second book by the end of 2017, then I can take a nice winter vacation in 2018.
And while all of these are great, this is only just the beginning. In my next post, next week, I will tell you how to plan for your long-term goals as well. But, first, focus on what you are going to do this upcoming year, then come back and see how you can build upon it for later in your life.
Have a happy New Year’s everyone. Stay safe and have fun.
- Michael E. Thies