Q: Why do most people abandon their New Year's resolutions so quickly? How much of a role does goal-setting play in achieving success? What are the most effective resolutions you have made, and why?
I love to buy writing journals. There is something so invigorating about holding a blank book in your hands that is just waiting to be filled. I get the same feeling at the end of the year when I'm winding up the past 12 months of an eventful life and looking forward to the next 12 months.
There's nothing better than a fresh start. Whether its the beginning of a new week, a new month, or a new year we tend to use these events as a catalyst for new beginnings. Just like that blank journal, we're ready to fill the pages with a new version of our lives. One that is healthier, wiser, more meaningful and more successful.
This is a dangerous place to be. I can't tell you how many New Years I've spent creating massive collections of goals, life plans and vision boards. I've spent hours cutting magazine pictures out and pasting them to cardboard. I've written long lists of everything I needed to change in my life. A couple of years I went to workshops! Quite honestly, I've probably forgotten half of the goals I set during those sessions -- and I suspect the vision boards are gathering dust in a corner of my basement.
Does that mean I haven't achieved any goals for myself? No, I've got a nice medium-size list of goals I've accomplished.
So what was the difference between the goals I met, and those that fell by the wayside?
First is the passion that motivated me to reach for the goal. The goals I've accomplished were incredibly important to me. So much that I was willing to make changes to my lifestyle, inconvenience myself when necessary, and commit unwaveringly to my vision of accomplishing that goal.
The second difference was that I kept it simple. I didn't load myself down with a dozen different goals at one time. We tend to do this especially at the New Year, when we sit down and make a list of the 212 goals we're going to accomplish in the next 12 months. It's exhausting! By the time we're done making our lists, we've set ourselves up for failure right from the beginning! I've always been more successful when I was focused on one or two things at a time.
The third difference was breaking my goals down into measurable, incremental steps that I could follow. I always knew exactly what I needed to do next and I could see the progress I'd made along the way.
And finally, I didn't use the New Year, new month, or new week as a catalyst for starting the goal. I just got up and got going. That's a nice feeling - to know that I don't have to rely on a "launch date" to start working on what is important to me.
Now on New Year's Eve I worry less about what I haven't done yet and think more about how grateful I am for what I do have. If I make any list at all, it will be the list of people I want to thank for being a part of my life.
And as for a resolution? Mine is to be a little kinder to myself, a little more indulgent with others, and to remember that the journey is a lot more important than the destination.
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