The Highlands Company Blog

Set New Year’s Goals That You Can Keep

new year resolution exerciseIf you started the year with New Year’s Resolutions that simply evaporated, you’re not alone. Many people I coach say that they have been caught for years in this cycle of making and breaking resolutions. I know it’s frustrating, and I know the cycle continues until you do something proactively to break it.

Let’s all try to do it differently this next year. Let’s set goals we can keep and make a three-month commitment to follow the plan. To do this exercise, you will need paper, a pen, and your calendar.

1. For starters, nothing in this exercise can be vague.

Set concrete goals with an action plan to anchor them in your life.

2. You already know how to achieve goals.

You reach goals for others all the time at work and at home. Starting now, you need to make your personal goals just as, if not more, important. If you don’t, who will?

3. Reframe your resolution as a specific, action-based, and time-bound goal.

For example, Joan, a client of mine, turned her resolution to “get more exercise” into “run two miles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings at 6:30am, starting next week for the next three months.”

4. Write your goals down.

Write it on index cards or sticky notes and post them where you will see them often at the office, in your car, and at home.

5. Put the dates and times for those activities on your calendar.

If you don’t schedule yourself into your days, they will end up with other things. Writing it down will make the commitment to yourself more definite and lessen the possibility of a conflict.

6. Identify what support and resources you need.

If you need someone’s assistance or there are other things you need to do to prepare, list them and put times for them on your calendar. Joan needed to buy new running shoes and to talk to her husband about helping with the children on her running days.

7. Plan for possible roadblocks.

You can’t foresee all potential obstacles, but identify the major ones, strategize how you will get around them, and write it all down.

8. Establish accountability.

Who can hold you accountable by checking in with you regularly (preferably every week)? It can be a friend, spouse, coach, or anyone who is willing. Schedule when you will talk to them.

9. Schedule a three-month review to assess your progress.

You can do it sooner if you want, but no later. Follow-up is critical.

After three months, if you have had trouble sticking to your plan, don’t give up. Evaluate what the barriers have been. Brainstorm new approaches. If you have reached your goal, first celebrate your success! Then plan for the next three months: you may want to increase your current goal and/or add another.

Use this process with any of your resolutions – just don’t take on too many at once. Take it a step at a time and you will have a lot to celebrate on December 31st of the next year.