Ok - January is all but gone. Are you still plugging away at those New Year's resolutions? Or, have those good intentions faltered and old habits crept back into place? Research indicates that by now, over 75% of New Year's resolutions have been abandoned. The reasons vary, but in many cases the goals were unrealistic or the strategies employed in support of the resolution were overly optimistic, perhaps even bordering on fantasy. Achieving a goal is rarely easy and for most doing is far harder than wishing. As the Scottish proverb suggests, "If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride"
But what of the 20 - 30% of us who are still plugging away? What strategies are being deployed to help us towards our goals? Some may suggest that sticking with and attaining one's goals is down to good genes or even just single bloody mindedness. While positive attitude, will power and determination definitely play a role in reaching one's goals, there are also other tools that can also help sustain the effort to change .
Good planning is essential. Humans are creatures of habits. Many New Year’s resolutions often require people to abandon habits developed over the course of years. Keeping goals S.M.A.R.T. -Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Results-focused, Time-bound can help. Many educators are familiar with the idea of SMART goal planning. Nice when something brought up annually for school improvement or achievement contract planning can be applied to our personal lives!
There is also the power of thoughtful reflection. Rather than feeling badly about not making any gains, people can consider what might be blocking their progress and then take action. If the goal is worthy and well planned out, perhaps there are other things getting in the way. Are there competing agendas that need to be assessed for priority and time management? Or, is it just a paralyzing fear of change that is stopping effective action. In his article Beyond New-Years-Resolutions & SMART Goals-Achieve-Success Derek Lauber points out that moving forward requires a person to take a deep breath, look at why they are stuck and then do something about it! Ironically fear of failure can actually guarantee it!
At his first inaugural address President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said "All we have to fear is fear itself" Less well known, but even more important were the words that followed "Nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." Hopefully your resolutions are still on track, but if not, take heart. Good planning, careful analysis and the courage to act can still provide the impetus to reach those goals!