You’ve closed the book on 2013 and rung in the New Year with high hopes and enthusiasm. Your New Year’s resolutions are ambitious and all-encompassing. There is no way that you will fail. You will achieve all of the achievement-related things that you so passionately desire. Nothing can stop you…
But wait, it’s been less than a week and already you’re slipping. Are you eating junk food when you swore to lose weight? Are you buying designer clothes even though you should save up for a car? Are you doing productive work when you vowed to binge-watch House of Cards on Netflix?
Stop. You’re going about this all wrong. Let’s take your New Year’s resolutions and put them through the wringer. If they pass the following test, then the world is your oyster. If they fail, then the world is most definitely not your oyster. It’s your scallop at best… or maybe like a mussel… Anyway, take the test and supercharge your goal-setting for 2014.
Do you have a specific New Year’s resolution?
It’s not enough to say ‘I want to lose weight this year’ or ‘I want to buy a house’. You need to get nitty (and a little bit gritty) with the details. Change it to ‘I want to lose 10 pounds this year’ or ‘I want to save $X dollars towards a down payment on a house’. Being specific with your goals makes all the difference. With a specific goal, you’ll be focused like a well-operated video camera on Adderall.
Is your goal measurable?
There’s no way to know if you’re keeping a New Year’s resolution if you can’t measure your success. Don’t just say ‘I want to learn to ski this year’. At what point have you learned to ski? Is it when you can go down the bunny hill without falling? Or when you’re dropping out of a helicopter to shred some fresh pow-pow in the Whistler back-country? Pick some measurable criteria for success and you can’t go wrong. For the skiing example: Resolve to do the Thunderball run at Mount St Louis – without falling – in under five minutes. In order to do that, you will need to develop all the skills that encompass ‘learning to ski’, but it will be so much easier since you have a measurable goal to guide you.
Can you break your goal into pieces?
An ambitious goal is great, but it can be daunting and you may get discouraged along the way. Find a way to break it into periodic ‘sub-goals’ so you know you’re on the right track. If you resolve to write the next Great American Novel – defining the voice of a generation and winning accolades the world over – try and break it into sub-goals. Maybe complete one chapter every month. Sub-goals will keep you from getting overwhelmed by the sheer audacity of your paradigm shifting sea-change of a New Year’s resolution…
Is it realistic?
But is your goal realistic? Yes, we all want to make a billion dollars before the year is out. But that’s just not going to happen (I don’t care how good your idea is for a submarine that runs on stray cats). Stick to an achievable goal (like making $999 million dollars) and when you hit it – and exceed it – you’ll feel like a billion bucks.
Do you have a deadline?
You need a deadline in order to stop procrastinating. Since we’re talking about New Year’s resolutions, might I recommend January 1st, 2015 as an appropriate date? Sounds about right; mark your calendar.
There you have it. You are now armed with the tools to achieve even your most wildly nonspecific, immeasurable goals that have no deadlines. Best of luck and Happy New Year!