While 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, only 8% actually achieve them. If you have already set your resolutions or goals for the New Year, you may want to revise them to ensure they are realistic—and hence more attainable. Here are three actions worth taking.
Focus on the future. Many of us look at last year’s failures when creating next year’s resolutions. If you set a goal to change careers or be promoted and did not, instead of re-listing that goal this year, think about the outcome you want to achieve next year. For example, if in this case the goal was to be promoted so as to manage a team, the revised resolution would be to ‘secure a position where I can influence and lead others.’ The difference is that you may encounter opportunities to lead in both your personal and professional life which will serve you later when you actually are promoted to a managerial position. When you do, should you choose to lead, you will have attained your goal. You may also want to consider enrolling in a Dale Carnegie course to gain the leadership skills required to attain this goal or to learn how to effectively influence others.
Define meaningful metrics. Declaring over-zealous goals, such as losing 50 pounds in one year if you’ve never exercised a day in your entire life, is a surefire way to fail. Resolutions must be attainable and digestible meaning that they are broken into smaller chunks so you can measure success along the way. In this example, a person hoping to lose weight might break it into three sub-goals: 1. Finding an exercise program that works for them 2. Modifying nutrition and diet and 3. Losing two pounds per month. The difference is that it may take multiple attempts to find an exercise routine before committing to one that is enjoyable. Each attempt is not a failure, it’s a step in the right direction!
Consider Thomas Edison for whom it took nearly 10,000 attempts to create a lightbulb – that’s an immense amount of ‘failures’ before finally finding success. His reaction to his repeated failures was not one of defeat, rather he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” By the same token, Dale Carnegie said, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”
Strategize with a prize. As you review your resolutions, jot down a respective reward for attaining each one. For example, the person who resolved to lose two pounds per month for a year may reward herself with a vacation or a few new outfits for her fabulous figure. She should also set rewards for each monthly weight loss success to celebrate and keep her on track. Dale Carnegie said, “Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”