Keeping resolutions alive

Keeping New Year’s Resolutions Alive

With the festive season now a distant memory, the year has gotten into its groove. This leads to many setting their New Year’s Resolutions aside or giving up on them entirely. Over time the idea of a New Year’s Resolution has become something of a ‘wash, rinse, repeat’ cycle – something we attempt year after year, often without real progress.

Towards the end of last year, we spoke about reflecting on successes and failures, with the focus on achieving goals and setting ourselves up for the best year possible.

From the lessons learned during this reflective process:

  • Did you action any of the learnings? What steps did you take?
  • What were the impacts and did they pan out as expected?
  • Were there steps you didn’t take, and what are you losing by not taking them?
  • Do you have something you can build on and could you improve on it?
  • Of the things you haven’t started, what can you start immediately?
  • Where can you take things from here – do you have a plan going forward?

How do we keep our goals alive? Let us take things one step at a time.

Do you understand your goal?

  • “I want to get fitter”, “I want to be better at customer service”, are dreams rather than goals. The easiest thing to ask is “What does success look like to me?”. Our goals are often vague, and without a real finish line, we can’t make any real progress either.
  • More simply; is it a SMART goal? Is it Specific, Measurable, Achievable and Realistic, and do I have a Timeframe?

Have you planned your goal?

  • What steps do you need to take in order to achieve this goal?
  • How much time can you spend on it each week and have you set time aside in your schedule?

Have you set milestones?

  • Milestones are a great way to measure progress. If your goal is to get a degree, enrolment at university could be your first milestone. Passing specific exams or completing a thesis would also make for easily recognisable milestones.
  • Starting and stopping can often mean losing progress, but maintaining a ‘milestone checklist’ means you can more easily pick up where you left off.

Are you holding yourself accountable?

  • Be sure to set up regular check-ins – be they weekly or bi-monthly – specifically to measure progress. Use these check-ins to measure your progress and to plan ahead.
  • Seeing your progress plotted out will give you a shot of dopamine, which will motivate you to take the next step.

Your progress will inevitably slow down

  • Exactly what progress has slowed down? Why has this happened? How can I fix it?
  • This isn’t a matter of “I’m not smart enough” or “I don’t have the skills necessary”, it is more a case of “Exactly what is the problem and how can I solve it?”

Evaluate whether the goal is still relevant

  • If the goal keeps slipping, ask yourself why that is.
  • Have your circumstances shifted? Have important factors changed? Are you still working in the same space and community? Is this something you still want to do?
  • If your goal is no longer relevant or important to you, let it go and find a new goal.

Finally, I encourage you to go through this process every so often. Take the time to understand your goals, to make plans for them, to schedule those plans in your calendar, to keep track of progress and to evaluate and re-evaluate your goals. This isn’t a once-off process, it is a pattern, so be sure to make it a habit – a habit that will help you reach all your goals.