By now, most New Year’s resolutions have been forgotten or abandoned. Maybe you still have that Post-it note on the fridge that says, “Eat more veggies,” or that notecard on your desk that says, “Take a Photoshop class,” or that sign on your door that says, “Exercise more.”
Don’t fret. We’ve all been there. But don’t give up just yet. Yes, we’re four months into the year, but there is still plenty of time to meet your goals or make new ones, if you really want to. Here are five tips to help you get back on track and to set resolutions and goals that stick:
- Re-establish your goal. Don’t beat yourself up. Decide to make a clean start and move forward. Do you still want to lose weight, exercise more, take a professional development class, spend more time with the kids, go to church, volunteer more, join a book club, etc.? What did you want to do, and do you still want to do it? Don’t be beholden to the goal you set on January 1. You can always tweak that goal or set a new one.
- Consider why your original resolution failed. What were the obstacles that kept you from your goal? Was it the wrong goal for you? Did you not have the time? Did you lose interest? Did something else present itself? By looking at the reasons you weren’t able to stick to the resolution, you might be able to determine what didn’t work for you and what you can do to change that.
- Make sure your goal is specific. Many goals fail because they aren’t specific enough. For example, the goal of losing weight is actually fairly nebulous. How much weight? Five pounds or 20? And by when? Is there a size you want to be? If your goal is to exercise more, what exactly does that mean? Once a week? Three times a week? And for how long? When setting your goal, be as specific as possible: I want to lose 15 pounds by November 1; I want to be proficient in Photoshop by September 1; I want to exercise three times a week; etc.
- Be realistic. The best way to meet a goal is to be realistic about it. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Losing 50 pounds by your high school reunion in September isn’t realistic. Becoming fluent in German by the time you go to Munich for Oktoberfest probably won’t happen. Getting up at 4 a.m. to exercise might not work for you. Your goal should be realistic, attuned to your lifestyle, the time you have, your financial constraints, etc. Don’t set yourself up for failure by making a goal that is impossible to achieve.
- Develop a game plan.Once you have a specific, realistic goal you can develop a specific game plan to meet it. Back away from it and then break it down to its moving parts so that you can figure out how to achieve it. Factor in all the things that have to happen and all the things you might need to make this work, from child care to transportation to equipment you might need, to when you will be able to study, etc.
For example, if your goal is exercise three days a week for 30 minutes, figure out when, how, and where you will exercise. Then, get out your calendar and schedule it. Make it a standing appointment. If your goal is take a class, figure out your schedule, then get on-line immediately and find one. If your goal is to lose weight, figure out how you will do it: Weight Watchers? Counting calories? Atkins? Whatever method you choose, be sure you understand what it will take to make it work and how you will go about it on a daily basis.
It’s never too late to jump start that old New Year’s resolution or set a new goal for the year. If your goal is specific and realistic with a realistic game plan to back it up, your chances of success are terrific. Good luck!