It is almost impossible not to reflect on the previous year, the successes, the failures, and the upcoming goals for 2016. As part of this there is often the compulsion to create New Year’s Resolutions. More often than not, February is the month of denial and regret for not coming close to achieving our lofty goals we set just a few months before.
That trend could stop this year if you follow the plan below. Each step extends your likelihood of maintaining the new habit and getting closer to your goal. Better yet, the #rezolution process takes less than an hour for most goals and objectives! While it won’t cause you to lose 20 pounds in an hour or 10X your income in that hour, it will offer a purpose and a plan to get you closer to achieving your goals than ever before.
This process will best improve your chances of meeting or exceeding your goals when they fall into the following categories:
A) Be healthier (stop smoking, lose weight, get fit, eat healthier, etc.)
B) Make more money (new job, get raise, start a side business, etc.)
C) Be happier (more time with friends and family, less stress, enjoy life more, etc.)
D) Get organized and improve yourself (declutter, read more, learn more, travel, etc.)
On New Year’s Eve, you thought about a few items you might want to change to make the following year a little better than the one you were saying goodbye to. You may have told a friend or two, but, after a few weeks, you decided that it didn’t really mean that much to you, you were fine the way you were, and if this year is the same as last year then it wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Sound familiar? Sound a little bit, well, sad and not fulfilling? Sound like something that you don’t want to repeat this year, so you can really start getting closer to obtaining your goals?
Quick note: I’ll use quitting smoking in the example, because it’s a common new years resolution. I also can’t think of any redeeming aspects of smoking. Saying “I want to start smoking cigarettes, so I can degrade my health, smell like an ashtray, and increase the likelihood of cancer for myself and those around me” could be a goal for some, but I’m hopeful you are in the majority. I have also never smoked a cigarette in my life, and made that decision a very long time ago so I could tell my children honestly that I never had. My parents smoked but quit while I was very young, and continue to be awesome parents, grandparents and people.
- Take one resolution that you really, really want to achieve and write it down on a piece of paper.
- Ex: “Quit Smoking”
- Under that, write the as many answers as you can to the question “Why do I want to [Answer to #1]”.
- A: “I want to feel healthier”.
- A: “I want to spend money on other things”.
- A: “I don’t want to die young”.
- A: “I don’t want to get cancer”.
- A:” I want to be able to run and play with my children”.
3) Now here is a critical part- answer “Why” to everything you just wrote; then answer “Why” to as many of those answers as you can, and again, and again. If you can take each item from #2 and get to 5 Whys for each one, you will get to the root of what you believe. (You can thank the nice people of Toyota for this concept of 5 Whys and “Root Cause Analysis”).
I want to be able to run and play with my children. WHY?
- Because they ask me and I can’t for very long, and I don’t like to disappoint them. WHY?
- Because I had disappointments as a child because my parents didn’t play with me. WHY?
- Because my parents smoked. WHY?
- Because they were addicted to cigarettes and it felt like my parents would rather smoke than play with me . . .
4) Now take a big look at your sheet(s) of “Why’s” and underline the ones that move you emotionally. This needs to be both on the positive side (ones that create an upwelling of positive emotions and create mental image of joy and happiness) as well as the negative side (brings the lump into your throat where you could almost allow tears or makes you physically ill to focus on the images or topics). If you only have positives or negatives, see if you can still get a strong emotion from flipping one around. Find as many as you can and keep adding to the list so you have at least 3 items (more is better), with at least one positive and one negative.
- I want to be able to run and play with my children. (It is a way for me to show them how much I love them and it makes me feel good).
- Because it felt like my parents would rather smoke than play with me . . . (That really hurt as a child, and I don’t ever want my children to think that I don’t love them or care about their happiness).
5) Now, look at your current habits and identify where you are most likely to break down or give up. Willpower alone is rarely enough to fight through all obstacles, so, here is your chance to identify your barriers to success, in advance of having to face them.
- Cigarette when I wake up
- After dinner
- When out with friends
- Smoke breaks with colleagues
6) Set a SMART goals to deal with each obstacle, as a phased approach is often the best approach, when dealing with large challenges. It is the old “eat an elephant one bite at a time” analogy. If you are trying to lose weight maybe you start with seeing your doctor and setting a plan to stabilize your weight for a month before looking to start losing? Are you looking to increase your income? Maybe you start with meeting 2 recruiters in January to review your resume and understand what the market might pay for your skills and talents?
SMART goals are:
- Specific: I will not smoke after dinner starting 1/2/16
- Measurable: Did I smoke after dinner? Y/N
- Actionable: I can choose not to smoke, so I choose not to smoke after dinner.
- Realistic: It is physically possible for me to not take a cigarette and light it and smoke it.
- Timely: I will not smoke after dinner starting 1/2/16 and will do so forever.
Note: for the obstacles identified in #5, you must understand that the morning cigarette, smoke breaks at work, and social smoking with friends will need different solutions. When you start to waiver, think about the “Whys” you created in #4 to reinforce your resolve and cheer yourself on.
7) Now it is time to get accountable! With your SMART goals and your “Whys” in hand, share them with at least one person that you know and trust. Accountability is critical to achieving your goals and objectives, and being accountable to someone you know, trust, and respect. It will also buoy your resolve when feeling down and can help you to get back on track when you lose sight of your goals or revert back to previous habits. The key is to not focus on the negatives, but to keep working to obtain what you have told yourself that you really wanted to achieve.
- Accountability partners- Best friend from High School, spouse, work friend (that does not smoke)
8) You should track your progress against your SMART goals and share them with your accountability partner. More frequent check-ins might be needed in the early going, but once you get a good rhythm you can think about toning down the frequency. The key is to track your progress, celebrate the wins, and when you slip just tell yourself “Needs Work” and move on to the next challenge.
- Daily text after dinner to best friend- “Needs work” if I have a cigarette, or emoji happy face if I resist the urge.
Change is hard!
This article was not titled: “The No Work Super Easy Way to Achieve Awesome Results for Your New Year’s Resolutions”. It takes effort to plan out a path to success and it takes work to stick to that plan day after day.
Boiled down, the plan is to:
- State what you want.
- Understand WHY you want the results.
- Put a plan in place to achieve those results, and–
- Keep yourself accountable to the things that YOU said that YOU wanted to achieve!
Whether it’s quitting smoking, starting a side business, cleaning out the basement, or losing 20 pounds; know that I am cheering you on! Use #rezolution to get your #1 goal out there to the world to increase your accountability, and keep the updates coming as you work through your SMART goals and plans! Always have a WHY, and whether you decide to broadcast your goal through Twitter or not– here is to an amazing run in 2016!