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New Year's Resolutions

Goal Setting 101: New Year’s Resolutions for dummies

New Year, New Life. This New Year comes with plenty of resolutions, goals and good purposes that will be forgotten in a couple of months. Probably because we forgot about them or just because we are lazy. I’ll give you some tips to keep your focus during the whole year so you will achieve your resolutions. Take some paper, a pen and go to a quiet place where you can think quietly. Here we go!

How to define our resolutions

First think I would like to do is to stop calling the New Year’s resolutions with that name. I prefer to call them as goals since they are just goals which we want to accomplish during the year. The most important thing is to define these goals as best we can.  For doing so we can use the SMART rules that George T. Doran invented on the 80s. The SMART rule takes its name from the acronym Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic y Time-related (NOTE: There are different conceptions for the SMART acronym). These will be the attributes of our goals:

  • Specific: Our goal has to be concrete and not ambiguous.
  • Measurable: We have to be able to measure our goals so we will have an indicator of process.
  • Achievable: We have to be able to achieve our goal. It doesn’t matter if it is an ambitious goal, we should able to achieve it.
  • Realistic: Keep it real, don’t try to define non realistic goals considering our capacity.
  • Time-related: We should have a deadline o time limit to achieve the goal.

Some examples of bad defined goals could be the following ones:

  • Save more money: It is not measurable neither specific.
  • Start jogging: Not so specific, not measurable and not time-related.

Considering these examples we can redefine these goals using the SMART rule:

  • Save 4.000 euros before August and have that money in our bank account.
  • Run 3 days a week at least 40 minutes with a pace of 10km/h during the whole year.

The better we define our goals the easiest it will be to achieve them. First thing to do in our list is to clearly define our goals so let’s start using SMART rule.

Divide et Impera

Some goals should be divided into smaller goals since they will be easy to achieve. Doing that we will see how we progress through our ‘big’ goal achieving smaller goals and how close we are from achieving it. It is also a good way to stay motivated during the whole process as we see the overall progress. Again, a good example of smaller goals towards a big goal will be the following one:

  • Run a Half Marathon in Madrid (April 2017):
    • Run 4 days a week at least 40 minutes with a pace of 10km/h until March.
    • Do 2 training sessions of an hour and a half before March.
    • Do a health check by February.
    • Do 2 gym training sessions per week until March.

As soon as we finish the smaller goals we will mark them as done. Otherwise if we keep the big goals as they are we could end feeling we are not doing any progress at all.

Think about yourself

Noways we don’t pay attention to the most important person in our whole life: Yourself. We waste time to watch TV, play games, meet friends, etc. but we don’t use any time at all to mediate and think quietly. We don’t keep pushing on New Year’s resolutions because we don’t keep them in mind during the whole year. We just remember them for a couple of weeks or months and just forget about them.

Spend some time each 15 days or month to analyze your goal list and achievements until that moment. Keep tracking them and see how they evolved during the year. Redefine your goals every time you need it, your goals list is not a static list and it could change whenever you need it.

Make a life plan

New Year’s Resolution should be part of our life plan. Knowing what we want to achieve during our life is key to know where we are on a specific time. If you don’t have a life plan spend some think thinking about it and make one, it is one of the best things you can do. In my case my life plan is defined in short, medium and long terms:

  • Shot Term: Goals I want to achieve during this year. Actually they can be considered as New Year’s resolutions.
  • Medium Term: What I want to achieve on a period of time that goes from 2 to 5 years.
  • Long Term: Goals I want to achieve in 5 or more years.

All the goals on this 3 categories are defined using the SMART rule and they are divided into smaller goals, specially the one in the medium and long terms. Also, some of these goals can changed during time and they keep evolving.

Evolving through sorting

Last but not least a really important tip: Sort your goals using your own labels. Define some labels or category that you can use to classify the goals depending on our priorities. I have all my goals sorted in categories such as ‘Finances’, ‘Relationships’, ‘Cultural’, ‘Professional’, etc. This way I keep track of how I evolve during the years on different traits and aspects of my life. I see how I grow as a person as human being during my whole life.

Nothing else to say. Define your goals with these tips, track them during the whole year and keep strong!

You can find my original article in Spanish in the following link: Guía práctica para propósitos de nuevo año

One thought to “Goal Setting 101: New Year’s Resolutions for dummies”

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