Are New Year’s Resolutions a Good Idea?

Dec 27, 2013

New Year's Party Hats

Every year, around this time, people start thinking about the coming year. The start of a new year is an excellent time to evaluate our lives and see what things might need to be changed. New Year’s Resolutions provide people with a great opportunity to create new habits, break old ones, and do some things differently in the coming year.

The biggest problem with New Year’s Resolutions, however, is that, usually, after a few days or weeks they are forgotten. We really intended to get to the gym three days a week but other things interfered. We really wanted to put more money into savings but the car needed to have some work done on it. How can a person break the cycle of making a genuine resolution but then breaking it a few weeks later?

People who have the most success in bringing lasting positive changes to their lives do not think in terms of “resolutions.” They think in terms of “goals.” While a New Year’s Resolution might be sincere, there is usually not much weight behind it. It is just a person thinking, “It would be a good idea if I got to the gym three days a week,” or “It would be nice if I could save a hundred dollars a month.” Goal setting, though, is a process that helps turn our dreams and desires into reality.

Many experts teach the SMART Method of goal setting. The goal should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. This method of setting goals can help someone get from where they are to where they want to be.

1. Specific– A general goal or resolution might be to, “Get out of debt.” A specific goal would be to, “Pay off one credit card in the coming year.” We have a much better chance of reaching our goals if they are specific.

2. Measurable– If someone wants to get in shape physically in the coming year, a measurable goal could be to, “Lose ten pounds by March.” If you can measure your progress, there will be no question about when the goal is met.

3. Attainable– A goal is attainable when I am willing to take the steps that are needed to make it happen. Am I willing to pay the price? Losing ten pounds is only attainable if I am determined to start an exercise regimen and watch my diet.

4. Realistic– If your goal is, “To earn $100,000 this year,” that is probably not very realistic if you only earn minimum wage and just work thirty hours a week. It might be more realistic to look at what you earned last year, and then consider how much more you could make if you worked more hours or got a second job.

5. Timely– What is your time frame for reaching your goal? A year is a great time frame to work within. You can break the year down into months, quarters, or thirds depending on what you want to accomplish. When you set a date that you want to accomplish your goal by, you establish a deadline in your subconscious that helps push you towards it.

One last important aspect of setting goals is to make sure that you put it in writing. Writing down our goals is a powerful exercise. Goals that are not written down are probably not going to happen. Writing them down and then reviewing them regularly is a very motivational exercise, especially if you have you used the SMART Method.

It is very satisfying and fulfilling to set and reach personal goals. If you have always been one of those people who have tried and failed with New Year’s Resolutions, let this next year be different. Set some goals, write them down, and then work to make them happen.

How would setting goals for the coming year help you get to where you want to go in the next twelve months?

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