Research shows that half of all people who make New Year’s resolutions abandon them by the end of June. Don’t let warm weather signal the undoing of your goals. Here are eight rules to help you.
Rule #1: Don’t aim too high or too low. Overly lofty goals can leave you overwhelmed and frustrated. Overly humble goals can leave you bored and uninspired. The key: finding something that’s just out of reach.
Example: Cutting the office supplies budget in half would be ideal, but also highly unlikely. A 10% decrease is definitely doable with minimal changes. Instead, shoot for a 30% decrease.
Rule #2: Make it fit. Align a new goal with your existing goals and with your values. Beware of setting goals for yourself that are actually a veil for someone else’s desires for you.
Example: Your boss repeatedly praises your computer skills and comments that you’d make a great addition to the IT department. If you’re not interested in working in that department, don’t pursue it.
Rule #3: Focus on the immediate benefits of working toward a goal. Ask: “How does setting this goal help my present reality?”
Example: Learning Spanish won’t just make you eligible for a transfer to the company’s offices in South America, it will also help you to better converse with the company’s growing number of Spanish-speaking customers at your current location.
Rule #4: Phrase it right. The more positively you phrase a goal, the more likely you are to remain committed to it. Don’t say: “I should,” instead say: “I will.”
Example: I will exercise for 20 minutes before work at least three days a week.
Rule #5: Have a plan of attack. After deciding on a goal, ask: “What information do I have? What information do I need? Are there any skills I need to learn?”
Example: To qualify for a promotion, you enroll in a continuing education class to learn required software programs.
Rule #6: Break it down. Set a series of mini-goals that will help you achieve your ultimate goal. It’s crucial to acknowledge the progress you are making in achieving that ultimate goal.
Example: Your goal is to become more in tune with employees, so you start by learning the name of their significant others and/or children, then a hobby of each, and so on.
Rule #7: Suffering isn’t always necessary. Don’t assume that the path to reaching your goal must be paved with suffering and sacrifice. Such a mindset is a recipe for failure.
Example: Being selected to represent the company at a seminar doesn’t necessarily mean you need to work late every night; it might just mean making sure you’re as productive as you can be during regular hours.
Rule #8: Grab a pen. Commit your goal to paper. By doing so, you’re confirming your willingness and commitment to making it happen.
Example: Dedicate a small notebook to recording your goals and your progress in attaining them.