By DANIELA BAYER
Here we are, near the end of the year. In just a few short days, the very last page will be written and the book of 2016 will be completed. While the official transition from one year to another is greatly symbolic, in crossing the threshold into a new year we separate what was from what will be. The past is over and done with, and now we have this new day, new promise and new opportunity. Many of us are truly looking forward to ending one chapter and beginning a new one.
In the spirit of the season, we reflect, celebrate, and – make resolutions. New Year, New You! We hope to change the things we can, and the New Year is a perfect time to make that proclamation. This year, I will ... (fill in the blank) ... lose weight, quit smoking, get out of debt, find a new job, leave a toxic relationship, etc. etc. Great relief and excitement accompany this practice of making New Year's resolutions as we give ourselves the permission and rejoice in the possibility and promise of a fresh start. What will I do more of? What will I do less of? What will I do differently this year?
Unfortunately, statistics show that only 10 percent of resolution-makers stay committed to their resolutions. The majority of people abandon their New Year's resolutions within a couple of weeks, despite the early intentions. The most common reasons are (1) a lack of motivation; (2) the resolution is too vague; and (3) don't have the knowledge, skill, or resources to see it through.
What would it take to increase the likelihood of a success? It turns out that if we ask ourselves some follow-up questions, such as "What will the change look like?" and "What do I need to make it happen?", then we are very likely to bring about a real change. As we move away from the abstract and toward the specific, the chance of success increases exponentially, because we take an idea and turn it into a method, a course of action, and a resulting state. This is a deliberate approach to resolution-making. These resolutions are concrete and supported by a plan. Instead of calling out an abstract idea, like "I will drink less coffee," we define what that actually looks like and what steps or actions need to take place to ensure the desired outcome is achieved.
If we are serious about our New Year's resolutions, this simple framework will help us get the results. By answering the questions bellow, we develop a plan. We create resolutions that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely (SMART):
Identify a specific area for improvement and in simple terms describe it as your goal. What is the goal? What will the goal accomplish? How and why will it be accomplished? Why is it important?
Come up with at least two measures or indicators of success. What is the tangible evidence that shows I have achieved my goal? How will I measure whether or not the goal has been reached?
In order to feel motivated, we need goals that are both challenging and achievable. We must have the knowledge, skill, and ability to reach the goal. Is it possible? Have others done it successfully? Do I have the necessary resources to accomplish the goal? Will meeting the goal challenge me without defeating me? How will I remove any barriers and work through setbacks?
Determine what results you can realistically achieve. What is the reason, purpose, or benefit of accomplishing the goal? What is the result of the goal?
Create a time frame for achieving the goal. Specify when the results can be achieved. What is the established completion date and does that completion date create a practical sense of urgency?
This year, set yourself up for success. Make resolutions that mean something. Be intentional in your purpose and make a difference. If not now, then when?