New Years Resolutions? Try Goals Instead!

Have you finished yet?  After all, it is January 3 already.  What are you waiting for?  Every year at this time, many of us have decided, at least in our minds anyway, that we are going to make important changes in our lives that are somehow going to transform us into happier, healthier, content and more prosperous people.  We’ll be better parents, spouses, friends, neighbors and employees/employers.  The problem is that rarely do any of these things ever happen.  By February, most New Year’s resolutions are long forgotten and we decide that either it’ll never happen or that we will try again next year.  This year is shot.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  We can successfully make the changes we want to see in our lives.  You first have to understand what a resolution really is.  It’s simply a formal expression of our intentions.  And you’ve probably heard that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  All of the good you want will never happen without action.  If you’ve already made your New Year’s resolutions, I challenge you to now take them a step further to better your odds of success.  If you’ve skipped it altogether, why not get started today?  After you make sure that each one is reasonable to expect, look at each resolution and be more specific.  In other words, make each resolution into a goal and start referring to them as such.  Permanently scrap the word “resolution”!  Much like the word “diet”, it has a bad stigma!  Both words set us up for failure.  Be specific too.  Maybe you want to become better at something you do as a hobby or even a career.  Many of us who cook barbecue for judges or customers might say “I want to produce better food.”  That’s fine, but you can do better.  You probably already do many things well but are lacking in other areas.  For me, I’ve always done well with most kinds of barbecue but ribs have been my downfall in competitions more than I care to admit.  So while I DO want to become a better barbecue cook, I first need to focus on where my shortcomings are.

One of the most important steps in achieving our goals is to write them down.  Just thinking about them and maybe talking about them won’t leave you happy with the results when you reflect back on them later.  Write down where you are now and where you want to be.  Between these two points on the highways that are our lives, we fill in action items that will help us reach our destinations.  They become the action plans that carry us to achieving what we first set out to do.

Now, make an action plan for each of your specific goals.  How are you going to get there?  What actions can you take to get you down the path to achieving your New Year’s GOALS?  Going back to my example of becoming a better barbecue cook by improving my ribs, I must first say that I am currently an average rib cook at best.  My destination might be being able to consistently receive high scores at competitions – or maybe just not have the neighbors raise their eyebrows and wonder where I learned to cook such awful slabs!  I can set aside a time to practice cook each week and try different methods and recipes.  I can sign up for a class and learn what people who are successful cooking ribs are doing.  Maybe the class isn’t reasonable and I’m better off finding someone to mentor and offer advice on my processes and recipes.  How about reading books, researching on the Internet and applying what I find to my methods and recipes?  The key is to take action!  Don’t just say “I want to become a better barbecue cook in 2013.”  Be specific.  Write it down.  Include action plans.  And while you’re at it, let’s add in some accountability!  How?  Tell others.  Share your goals and action plans with your family and friends.  If you publicly state what it is that you plan to accomplish in 2013, someone is bound to ask you about it at some point.  They will sort of hold your feet to the fire and if nothing else, you will feel guilty if you haven’t been true to your own word.

So start with barbecue … or whatever it is that you do, hobby, career or otherwise.  With a little success here, imagine what the changes you can accomplish in the truly important aspects of your life – those things you do that have an impact on the lives of others – your children, your wife or husband, people in need.  This is powerful stuff!  Don’t waste the new year – or even one day!

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