The New Year is upon us! Anybody else amazed at how quickly time flies? I personally find the first half of the year usually goes by quite slowly but once the mid point mark is passed, things just seem to accelerate exponentially (or am I just the only one?).
A new year often brings new resolutions: it is something we vow to ourselves (and sometimes carelessly to others) despite us knowing that the chances of us sticking to it are as slim as Leonardo Di Caprio winning an Oscar (jokes).
Why are we not able to keep our resolutions? First of all, we probably make way too many. First step is to change that: think of maximum three and just keep it at that for the time being. Secondly, it may be because the resolutions we make are not S.M.A.R.T ... I explain further below:
Have specific goals for yourself. Sometimes having too generic aims are not helpful, for example: "I want to be a better person." / "I want to be fitter." / "I want to be richer" / "I want to be smarter."
The problem with these statements are they are too broad and cannot be quantified objectively, which leads to...
What is a measurable goal? Something that can be properly defined and determined. A measurable goal would be something like: "I want to lose 5 KG" / "I want to get at least 5As for my grades" / "I want to save XXX amount of money"/ "I want to serve in a ministry at church" / "I want to be able to bench 100KG by year end (me)."
Not only are these statements more specific, but they are measurable as well. Why is this important? It helps you clarify "the win" or "the aim". Imagine playing a game or sport where you did not know what the objective was? How frustrating would that be??
What actions are you going/willing to take in order to achieve your resolutions? Intentions alone are not enough, it has to be accompanied by action. As they say "don't just have a wishbone, grow a backbone."
Goals will need effort in achieving them, hence active steps need to be taken. Do what you need to do: adjust your lifestyle, be more disciplined, set aside time, cut down on certain things, find someone to keep your accountable, find a mentor, sign up for a course (and stick to it) etc.
This is important: do not set goals where you know you cannot realistically achieve them. While most of us would have the sense not to do so, sometimes the inner idealist in us takes over. However giving yourself crazy goals is merely setting yourself up for failure and disappointment.
If you struggle reading the bible and praying, giving yourself a goal of doing it an hour everyday is probably going to be more of a deterrent than inspiration. If you only earn a certain amount of money and you have other commitments, resolving to save half of your salary is not going to work. If your grades are not that great and you want to hit straight As in your first semester: probably not going to happen.
Lastly, make your goals time-based. Without a timeline, we not only lack an effective method for tracking; we would most probably not be disciplined enough to keep to it as well.
So then, what is a Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, Time-based resolution? Here are some examples:
- I want to lose 5kg in 6 months, and will commit to exercising at least twice a week.
- I want to save XXX amount of money by the end of the year, and I will put aside at least 30% of my salary every month to achieve that.
- I want to improve my grades in school by at least 20% by the first semester, and will commit 2 hours a day to study and homework
- I want to draw closer to God and know Him more, so I will spend at least 15 minutes a day reading the bible and another 5 minutes praying, and will try to increase that after 3 months.
- I want to be a nicer person, so for the coming year I will endeavour to give out words of encouragement to at least 2 people daily
If you do achieve certain goals either by the time you set (or even before), celebrate that little victory and push yourself to achieve more! If you do not however, fret not: just take some time to reflect and evaluate what were things that hindered you and what are things you can do or adjust to ensure you achieve your future goals
Happy goal setting and Happy New Year!