I don’t make resolutions in the traditional sense. I used to, but like many others who have gone down resolution road, I would more often than not find myself on December 31st, looking back at my year and realizing I failed miserably. I discovered I made some mistakes in setting my goals, and that I had clearly set myself up for failure.
So now each year, I come up with a “word” that exemplifies what I want out of that year. One year it was gratitude. Last year, it was grow. This year, it’s intentional. And then I use that word to improve myself spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
You may be looking at that and thinking, what does that even mean? A word?
Hang tight while I explain.
I take my word, and apply it to specific areas of my life, and then I continually refocus throughout the year on applying that word.
This year, I want to be more intentional. How do I do that?
- I want to be more intentional about having my kids see Superman and I pray together.
- We pray every night together before we go to sleep, but our kids are not privy to that since they’re all in bed. So my goal is to make sure that every morning, before he leaves for work, Superman and I pray together in front of our kids. Not with our kids, but in front of them. It’s important for them to see that our relationship with each other is built on our relationship with God. We pray often together as a family, now I want them to know we pray together as parents.
- I want to be more intentional about birthdays and holidays.
- Birthdays were celebrated in my house growing up, but they weren’t necessarily a huge deal. I have often used the excuse of having five kids as a way of weaseling out of making them feel extra special on their extra special day. I mean, I’ll make a cake, and they’ll get a gift, but that’s pretty much the extent. By making birthdays special, I don’t mean spending more money, I just mean being more intentional about putting up a few balloons and streamers, giving them a special plate to eat on, and just giving them a little extra love to celebrate the day they were born. I know this doesn’t seem like a big deal to some of you, but it is not my natural bent, so it will take some effort on my part.
- I want to be more intentional about friendships.
- It’s been a long time since I sent a note (and I’m talking snail mail, not email) to a friend “just because.” This year, my goal is to send at least one note a month to someone who could use a little pick-me-up.
And so on and so on. The list is endless on how I could be more intentional. But that gives you some ideas. So, how do you ensure that those lofty goals you make on January 1st are achieved by the end of the year? Read on.
Be very specific.
One of the most common reasons people fail at achieving their goals is because they’re vague:
I’m going to lose weight.
I’m going to run a marathon.
I’m going to start a blog.
In order to have the best chance at success, it’s vital that you are very specific:
I’m going to lose 10 pounds by March 1st by cutting out grains and sugar for 90 days, walking three days per week, and not eating snacks after 7 pm.
I’m going to take brisk walks around the block every day for a month. Then I will jog every day for a month. I will continue this routine and run in a 5k race by spring…
I’m going to come up with a name for my new blog, buy the domain & hosting, and write my first post by February 1st. I’m also going to read three articles on how to start a blog to get a good idea on how to be successful.
Do you see the difference?
My goals about being more intentional this year are very specific, and that’s a great start to making sure I meet my goals!
Make realistic resolutions you can keep.
You’re not going to make it to the moon this year. You’re not going to lose 50 pounds in one month.
If your goal is to run a marathon this year, it’s wildly unrealistic to sign up for one next month, unless you’ve already done several months of training. Or, if your goal is to become CEO of a company, but you have no experience, this goal might not be practical – at least not yet!
It’s important to come up with goals that are realistic and achievable. You want a challenge, but not impossibility. Beware of setting goals that someone else has power over. For example, “I’m going to get that promotion!” depends on who else applies, and on the employer’s decision. But “Get the experience and training that I need to be considered for that promotion” is entirely in your hands.
An achievable goal will usually answer questions such as:
- How can I accomplish this goal?
- How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as financial factors?
Make sure your goals this year aren’t so lofty or out of your control that you can’t manage them.
Break it up into small steps.
Our supply of self-control is finite. I mean, let’s be real: how long can you actually eat no sugar or go to bed two hours earlier? Make resolutions that require small acts of will, not weeks of vigilance. It’s a lot easier to push yourself to get to that next small goal than it is to reach a big goal. ‘Lose 10 pounds’ sounds specific, but it’s less likely to work unless you break it up into how you’re going to do it, like ‘This week I’ll try to go to the gym three times, take the stairs at work at least twice, and bring a healthy lunch every day.”
Keep a log of the small steps you’re taking to lose weight, and when you achieve them. Set up small rewards for yourself as you achieve them, even if it’s something small. Share your achievements with your social media world and friends. All these things will help ensure your success!
Have an accountability system in place.
You need to recruit allies now. Join a running club, ask a friend to check in with you weekly via text. Tell your friends what your specific goals are, and be honest when they check in with you.
You don’t want to just pick any Joe Schmoe, though. You want to pick someone who has a couple qualifications:
They care about your success.
They’ve got a positive attitude.
They’re OK being brutally honest.
You want someone who is gentle and kind, but someone who doesn’t have a problem calling you out when needed. Don’t pick a “yes man” accountability partner! You also want a person who bleeds positivity. If you have Negative Nelly behind you, you’re going to quit, and fast.
It’s even sweeter when you achieve your goals, and can share that success with someone who has been invested with you!
Ultimately, remember: you are responsible for you. Whether it’s losing weight, making more money or any other goal, you are ultimately responsible for your success or failure.
What do you think? Do you have a word for 2017? What kind of goals do you have this year?
If you want a 30-day guide to kicking off your new year right, try my ebook, 30 Days to a Life Made Full. It has 30 days of Paleo dinner recipes, 30 short devotionals, and 30 simple at-home workouts: