The time: Late December, maybe early January.
The setting: You are out at a New Year’s party, or it’s the first day back to work after the holidays, and people start asking you, “Do you have any New Year’s resolutions this year?” This question is always asked with a knowing smile. The smile of personal experience, acknowledging that nearly everyone makes resolutions of some sort in January, but few people last more than a few weeks in keeping those resolutions. In fact, many people hardly even last more than a few days!
How long did YOUR resolutions last? Are you still diligently following through? Or did you also give up after a few days?
Why is it so difficult to follow through on making resolutions?
Much of the problem resides in that critical first step: you don’t know WHY you want to change your behavior. Not really.
You have great intentions of doing the right thing, such as “exercise at least 5 days a week” or “read at least 2 books a month” or “train the dog at least 4 days a week”. You KNOW you should be doing these things, and you start on the process, but then you meet obstacles – like limited time or money, or lack of know-how – and you get stuck. What to do?
How to get unstuck
I know it is well past January 1st right now, but it doesn’t matter. Setting meaningful goals is a life-long pursuit that does not have a beginning or ending date. You can start on this process of achieving goals – resolutions – at any time in the year. Here is the template for getting started.
- First, recognize that there are at least ten different areas of your life that affect you dramatically:
- Family in general
- Romance with significant other
- Health and healthy living
- Spiritual growth
- Personal development
- General emotional state
- Personal environment
- Service/giving/personal contribution
- Write down the most important general direction for each area. This direction can be something like: trips with my family; time with my spouse; great customer service for my clients; daily Bible reading; giving time and money to favorite charities; etc. These don’t need to be specific, they just need to say what is important to you in the grand scheme of things.
- Look back at your last year. This is the step that most people miss. In a separate list, write down the big things that happened to you, both good and not-so-good. Jot down next to each one, into which of the ten areas it falls (business, health, etc.).
- Analyze your list. If you have an area where you didn’t do very well last year, is there something you can do to make it better this year? Is there any area of your life that is missing from this list? What can you think about doing that will bring that area more growth? ALL of these areas are important to having a happy life. You can maybe get by if one of them is a little out of whack, but if two or more are a little out, or if one of them is really out, then you simply aren’t going to be happy. You will always have something nagging at the back of your mind, keeping you from being at peace with yourself.
- Write down the things you think you need to do to bring balance back into your life, so that each of the ten areas receives some attention. Recognize that you can’t pay attention to every area every day, or maybe even every week. But over the course of the year you need to pay attention to every area, and grow in each area, in order to have balance, feel comfortable, and be truly happy with yourself.
- Finally, write down the names of the people who will benefit from you taking action. This is your big WHY. This is what you will refer to next week, next month, next quarter, every day, when you start to get lazy about following through.
Who is it for, and why?
Needless to say, you need to do more steps after this in order to set challenging but achievable goals that will make a difference in your life, and in the lives of your family, friends, and clients. But this first step, understanding WHY these goals – these resolutions – are important, will provide you with the motivation to follow through.
And as parents and educators, it is very important that we teach our learners that setting and achieving goals – based on understanding the big WHY – is a critical part of learning, and ultimately, personal success.
So now it’s your turn. Please share below either your big WHY for the goals and resolutions you want to make, or else a couple of those goals that you plan to achieve.
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