THE BALCONY BLOG

Truth & Politics

New Year’s Resolutions: There’s Still Time to Set Your Goals for the New Year

If you haven’t yet done your New Year’s Eve resolutions, there’s still time to compile your 2015 goals in the opening days of the New Year. I used to be very diligent about having mine done by New Year’s Eve and my resolution setting process was surprisingly quick and painless. I would start with my goals from the previous year, which were quite extensive and meticulously detailed in all the important life areas, such as Career, Health, Family, Financial, et.al. Then, I would make a few edits and save them on my laptop as my goals for the current year. I would usually not review these goals again until December 31st, when I would edit the list and save it for the next year.

After many years of this routine, I realized that while my goal list itself was well thought out, few of the goals were actually getting accomplished. For example, while my weight had fluctuated a bit for the good at the start of the year, my hard earned losses never seemed to last or even get close to my written goal. Also, my bad habits that I had pledged to extinguish all seemed to be alive and well.

I wanted this year to be different, so I brain stormed from all of the goal setting literature and programs I had carefully studied, but seldom practiced, over the years, I was in search of a new and improved, guaranteed to succeed, goal setting process for 2105.

My thought process was assisted by an excellent book I happened to be reading by Kelly McGonigal entitled The Willpower Instinct, which blamed the lack of willpower as the main culprit for goal achievement failure. But it’s really not our fault, because humans are created with a brain that is essentially split between following reason or responding to pleasure seeking impulses, sort of like a Jekyll and Hyde dilemma or having an Angel on one shoulder and a devil on another.The good news is that there are techniques, call them gimmicks, which can help people boost their self discipline and could be a missing link between the mechanical process of setting goals and the challenges of managing your behavior.

Let’s begin with our new and improved goal setting process for 2015.

Setting Goals
Many goal setting advocates recommend that goals need to be in writing and SMART.
• Specific
• Measurable
• Attainable
• Relevant
• Time-bound
For example, setting a goal of losing 10 pounds by April 1st is much more preferable than setting a general goal of losing weight. You need to be specific about your personal, career and family goals.

Action Plan
Once the goals are set, the next item is an action plan on meeting the goals, which generally involves certain activities. For example, activities for weight loss would include diet and exercise. Each specific goal can be broken down into a series of activities that you can take to meet the goal, whether these activities are done once or even on a daily basis. The point is that you generally can’t achieve a goal all in one day, but can take steps toward your goal every day. Often, we are overpowered by goals that may seem too intimidating. The trick is to break them up into manageable activities and then to schedule those activities.

Staying on track
However, the hardest part about goal setting is staying on track and that is where some of the gimmicks can help you move closer to your goals.
1) rewrite your goals every day, preferably the morning: I know this might seem a little over-the-top but it certainly keeps your goals in the forefront and is highly recommended by number of self-help experts.
2) visualize accomplishing the goal and set a reward for yourself. One saying is that in order to achieve, you must believe it and keep your destination alive and exciting for you. This in turn helps bolster your self discipline and makes you less inclined to be distracted.
3) keep track of your progress: this also keeps you spurred on but the key is to remain focused on your destination and not become complacent with your initial success.

These are just a few of my thoughts on the matter and I wish you the best of luck in the new year. I incidentally am using a software called single – step (www.single-step.com) to assist and I’ll let you know how I do in 2015.