Happy New Year! Tonight the ball will drop and 2015 will begin. It’s been an exciting year here on the show, and I have much more in store for you in the New Year. Keep an eye out! I mentioned in my last blog that I wanted to you to reflect on what goals you made for the past year, whether you met them or not and what you might have learned from them. I also asked you to think about what you might like to accomplish this year. Ready to put all that thinking to good use? Let’s do it.
Goals that are too easy to accomplish aren’t motivating. If you set yourself a goal you know you’ll accomplish without work, it doesn’t push you to change anything in your life. Deciding to lose two pounds this year is achievable, but anyone can lose two pounds in a year. Deciding to lose 40 will require you to make major change and may seem beyond your abilities. Ambitious goals force you to mobilize your resources in new ways to make the goal happen and lead to potentially life changing results. To do this, determine what you think is possible and then go just beyond it.
With that in mind, it’s important to be realistic about what you might accomplish. Setting goals just out of reach are motivating because they’re just close enough to keep you going. But choosing something that is obviously unachievable within a year will make you give up as soon as the going gets tough. When you have a stretch goal you think is realistic, run it by someone who knows you well. If they think you’re crazy, it might be good to ratchet it back a little.
A problem a lot of people run into is that they end up with too many goals. A safe number is seven total in different areas of your life. If you’re doing more than seven, you won’t be able to give those goals the time and effort you need to meet them. If you have fewer than seven, you’re either not being ambitious enough or your goals are too broad. Remember, a goal with subheadings isn’t a goal. Saying you want to “get healthy” probably includes many other goals. Go with something more like “work out five days a week, every week.”
It should be obvious from reading your resolution when you will have completed it. If you’re an athlete, that might mean aiming for a specific goal time in a race. If you’re looking to lose weight, it might mean adding or removing specific food items from your diet. Having a clear sense of what you’re aiming for makes you more likely to get there and makes it especially motivating when you’re close. If the resolution has no clear finish line, you’ll feel overwhelmed by figuring out how to achieve it and won’t know when to celebrate.
Keep your resolutions in the forefront of your mind every day. Write them down. Doing so embeds them in your brain and commits you to your goals more so than just mentally deciding. Put them somewhere you will see them regularly. Before starting your morning, spend one to two minutes thinking about what you will do that day to move closer to achieving your goals. At the end of the day, take another few minutes to see how you did and how you’d like to change.
Share a Little
The key word here is a little. When you resolve to do something big this year, pick 10 of your closest friends and family to tell. Ask them to check in and to hold you accountable throughout the year. But resist the urge to post on Facebook or share on Twitter. This is because research has shown that when you share your commitment to a goal with a large number of people, your brain responds as if you’ve already reached your goal. When you share and get all of those encouraging and positive comments, you’ll feel like you’ve already accomplished what you set out to do. That can actually decrease your motivation. The point of sharing is accountability, not self-congratulation.
If you follow these steps, you’ll be well on your way to making your best resolutions yet. I want you to keep an eye on my blog and website over the next few days since we’ll have some great material to kick-start you toward achieving those resolutions.
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