Saturday, January 02, 2010

How to Make SMART New Year Resolutions

What an amazing time to be alive! This year has been so full of changes, challenges and openings. This is the time when many make resolutions and set goals about their health, finances, careers, family and spiritual life. It is our wish that, whatever your resolutions or goals, that you will all enjoy the success to which you aim.

Everyone love the week between Christmas and New Year's. It is always a time when things slow down. One can reflect on the past year and look forward to the new year. And all of us enjoy the time with our families and reconnecting with what's really important. It is quintessential to do this planning after reaching a considerable milestone. Otherwise, you end up procrastinating your incomplete tasks in to the next year.

New Year's resolutions can provide a powerful catalyst for change if they are done right. The problem with most resolutions is that they are little more than aspirations or wishes.

In order to make your resolutions stick, you need to employ four strategies:

  1. Keep them few in number. Productivity studies show that you really can’t focus on more than 5-7 items at any one time. And don’t try to cheat by including sections with several resolutions under each section. This is a recipe for losing focus and accomplishing very little. Instead, focus on a handful of resolutions that you can almost repeat from memory. Mine fit on one 4″ x 6″ card.

  2. Make them "smart." Resolutions are really just annual goals. But like all goals, they should be s-m-a-r-t:
    • Specific—your goals just identify exactly what you want to accomplish in as much specificity as you can muster.

    • Measurable—as the old adage says, "you can’t manage what you can’t measure."
      Actionable—every resolution should start with a verb (e.g., "quit," "run," "finish," "eliminate," etc.)

    • Realistic—you have to be careful here. A good resolution should stretch you, but you have to add a dose of common sense.

    • Time-bound—every resolution needs a date associated with it. When do you plan to deliver on that resolution. It could be by year-end (December 31) or it could be more near-term (March 31).

  3. Write them down. This is critical. There is a huge power in writing your resolutions on paper even if you never develop an action plan or do anything else. Write It Down and Make It Happen.

  4. Go public. Tell your family and friends what you are committed to achieving. You can also post your resolutions on your blog. Going public creates accountability and leverage.