The Problem With New Years Resolutions

5 Steps To Create Intentional Goals That Last

New Year's Resolution

Now that the New Year is upon us, it’s time for the obligatory New Year’s Resolution, right? Time to lose 20 pounds, sign up for a gym membership, take more time to read, take the vacation you’ve been planning, etc.

Before you get too caught up in listing off all the things you wish you could be or do, let me ask you a question:

What was your New Year’s Resolution last year? Do you remember?

If you do, did you accomplish it?

If so, congratulations!

If you’re like the rest of us, ask yourself, “why not?”

You might be under the impression that most people don’t accomplish their New Year’s Resolutions because their goals are too far out of reach. I disagree. I think setting big goals is important – it gives us something to strive for.

In fact, I believe that we typically set the bar too low. When you set a goal that you know you can complete in a month, what happens? You put it off – month after month. Then a year goes by and you forget it altogether.

In addition, should you really be setting only one Resolution for yourself for an entire year?

No Way.

Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t rob yourself of potential growth in every aspect of your life.

You may be overwhelmed with the thought of setting more than one Resolution, but bear with me, there is hope.

Let’s dig deeper.

The problem with New Year’s Resolutions is that they aren’t planned for. They catch you at a vulnerable time – right after the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. You are pressured into them with advertisements, friends, and family members. You anticipate the question of “What’s your New Year’s Resolution?” and you think of a cliché goal that you’ve had in years past. Oftentimes these goals are flippantly made out of guilt.

Let me be clear – the problem isn’t the specific Resolution you make. There’s nothing wrong with losing weight or joining a gym. I believe the problem begins with the lack of intention and lack of preparation.

How should you prepare for making a Resolution? Here are 5 steps:

  1. Schedule time to yourself where you have time to process and think about the upcoming year
  2. Get a notebook and pen, an iPad, or laptop to take some notes. Minimize distractions
  3. List the areas of your life that are important to you. I’ll list mine, yours may differ:
    • Personal relationship with God
    • Church
    • Relationship with Spouse
    • Relationships with Kids
    • Work
    • Friendships
    • Fitness
    • Personal development
    • Hobbies
  4. List one goal in each of these categories
    • Make it a big goal, something just out of reach that you aren’t sure if you can actually achieve it or not.
  5. Break down that goal into smaller SMART goals
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable
    • Realistic
    • Based on a Timeline

    Breaking down big goals into SMART goals puts them in a context that you can digest. Then you can more easily follow the steps it takes in oder to advance toward achievement.

By listing all the important categories in your life, you address everything that is important to you. You leave nothing lagging behind. You optimize your potential for growth in every aspect of your life. If you are really honest with yourself, isn’t this what you want. I for one am not satisfied with where I’m at now. I’m thankful and I’m grateful – but I want to learn more, improve my skills, get in better shape, deepen relationships. Don’t you?

So once you have everything listed out, what’s next?

  • Share it with the person that you are closest with – someone that will support and encourage you along the way. If you don’t declare your goals out loud, they don’t exist.
  • Write down the time-related aspects of your SMART goals in a planner. Do this for the coming month. When you write these in your calendar as if they are concrete events – and treat them as such – you will complete the tasks.

Is it really possible to accomplish numerous goals this year? Here’s the answer: yes…if…

…if you eliminate all of the meaningless excess from your life that is serving as nothing more than a waste of time. This may sound harsh – and I hope it does. If you are truly honest with yourself, there is a lot you are doing now that isn’t essential. You need to delegate some tasks and eliminate some altogether. As you write your priority list, make a separate list of everything you must STOP doing this year. Only then can you free up the time necessary to accomplish what really matters.

Friend, this New Year, don’t sell yourself short. Take an hour, a morning, an afternoon, to prioritize what’s important in your life. The best recipe for success is not to let life happen to you, but to be intentional in how you live it. This takes thought, it takes preparation, and it takes perseverance.

I know you can do it. Have a great year.

Question: What are you doing too much of that you can eliminate from your life this week? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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