You will not write the next Great American Novel this year. You will not top Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco or Modern Family’s Sofia Vergara as the world’s highest paid television actress. Fortunately your New Year’s resolution doesn’t have to be epic to be life changing.
A New Year’s resolution, like any goal, is only as beneficial as what you put into it. Crafting the perfect New Year’s resolution starts with finding your ‘Why’.
Figure Out Your ‘Why’
It’s estimated that a third of New Year’s resolutions are broken before the end of January. With those odds, why make a resolution in the first place? To keep up with tradition? Because your dad thinks it’s a good idea? That’s not good enough.
If you don’t have a good ‘Why’, you’ll give up as soon as things get tough.
To discover your ‘Why’ think about how your life will be different when you fulfill your New Year’s resolution. How will you look, how will you feel, how will you spend your time, how will you use your finances, how will you change your little corner of the earth?
Meet Ava, Barry and Carla. They each want to lose weight in the new year. Ava wants to lose five pounds to get back in her skinny jeans. Barry wants to impress at his class reunion. Carla wants to avoid a third heart attack.
Who has the bigger ‘Why’? Maybe it’s Carla, maybe it’s not. Carla’s heart condition may not be enough of a concern to spur her to action. On the other hand, Barry who was teased in high school is so motivated to look good at his reunion that he jogs 10 miles every morning.
If you can’t find a ‘Why’ that sets your soul on fire, you haven’t found a good New Year’s resolution.
Put Your New Year’s Resolution in Writing
Grab a piece of paper and pen. Write down every goal you want to achieve in your life. Every single one, don’t leave anything out. Use as many pages as you need. Put your pen away. Congratulations. You’ve just created a bucket list. Now put that thing away and come up with a New Year’s resolution.
If productivity expert David Allen is to be trusted, “You can do anything, but not everything.” When it comes to your New Year’s resolution, you have to settle on one goal.
Once you’ve decided on your one and only New Year’s resolution put it on paper. Post it everywhere: in your bag, on the fridge, by the mirror, above your desk. Harass yourself. Electronic reminders are okay. But there’s nothing like a bright yellow post-it note on your television to remind you to stop being a couch potato.
Make Your Goals Specific and Measurable
I want to lose weight this year.
I want to get a better job this year.
I want to improve my marriage this year.
These common New Year’s resolutions are vague and ineffective. If you want to lose weight, specify the amount of weight, and how you’ll accomplish it. If it’s a better job you want, define what better means. Are we talking more money, a different type of work, a growing industry? What does a better marriage mean to you?
If you’re vague about your goal, you won’t know when you hit the mark. Here’s an example of a specific, measurable New Year’s resolution:
“By December 31, 20…, I will lose 30 lbs. by educating myself on healthy living, regularly attending Zumba classes, running two miles every morning, and eating a raw food diet.”
When the end of the year hits, they’ll be no question as to whether or not you accomplished your weight loss goal.
Let someone else hold you accountable
You’ve decided on a clear, measurable New Year’s resolution. You put it in writing. Now you need someone to keep you honest.
Don’t look for an accountability partner among your friends, family or Facebook pals. Do look for an accountability partner by joining an online community, partnering with a likeminded co-worker, or attending a local meetup. For more ideas on finding your perfect accountability partner, check out this Business Insider article.