New Year’s Resolutions…Easier Said Than Done!

Happy New Year (1)This week I’m working to finalize my next little book, Ben Franklin’s Guide to Productivity. The following is an excerpt from one of the chapters:

Easier said than Done

‘Tis easy to frame a good bold resolution;
But hard is the task that concerns execution. (Poor Richards Almanack, 1743)

New Year’s resolutions have become a joke in many circles. We have the best intentions when we make the list of tasks we’ll accomplish, the amount weight we’ll lose, the books we’ll read, and the people we’ll meet. Sadly, by February most of us have completely given up and forgotten all about those resolutions.

If you struggle with implementing your New Years’ resolutions list, try the following at the start of a new year—or at any time of year.

I start by choosing the one thing on my list that would mean the most to accomplish, and which I can accomplish in a relatively short period of time. I have big goals like becoming a millionaire, rearing kids who grow to be well-adjusted, independent adults, and spending winters in Florida, but most of those big goals make lousy New Year’s resolutions because they can’t be accomplished within a few months!

Sometimes I have a few goals for my career, my finances, my family, etc. Some people use complex philosophies or formulas to select goals for different areas of their lives. They then pick goals for each. This is too much for me. I find more than three goals at a time is too distracting. One main goal is best for me.

I like using the SMART acronym for testing my goal:

Having pictured a successful outcome and assigned a timeline, I dive in. Ideally the goal is something I can take action on at least once a week. If possible, break tasks down to daily actions. This keeps positive momentum going. Do at least one thing to move your project forward each day.

The other tip that works well for me is to have someone you can talk to at least once a week who will encourage you, sometimes kick your butt, but never discourage you from finishing your quest. You have to be very careful about this. Even your best friends can get jealous if you’re taking on new challenges and growing. They may not intend to, but they may say things that will cause you to lose excitement about your goal. If you ever find that happening, IMMEDIATELY find someone else to keep you on task. You can talk with that person about other things, but you have to know who will push you forward and who—even subconsciously—wants you to stay where you are and who you are. This has been a big one for me. Seems like so many people have a vested interest, directly or indirectly, in our decisions. Listen politely, but trust only yourself.

If you pick resolutions you are passionate about, you CAN and WILL execute. After you have a few of these under your belt, it may begin to be addictive. You will be a Get It Done person!

Action: Take the time to think through some things that you’ve been wanting to do. What would move your big goals forward? Pick something that would push you to get it done in less than a year, but that is realistic. Now come up with a plan to make that project happen by your due date. Break it down into milestones if necessary. How will you celebrate achieving this goal? Take action!

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