How To Make Resolutions Stick.



It’s one week into 2013 and I hope your year is off to a good start. Typical for this time of year there is a lot of talk about resolutions and goal setting. It’s not unusual for people to dust off their 2012 resolutions with the hope they can make some headway in the upcoming year. In many cases, it’s more than just idle talk as health clubs are mobbed with over zealous members committed to getting in shape and losing weight. This burst of enthusiasm will probably last through January, begin to wane come February and extinguish by March. One of the reasons is that we set high expectations and bite off more than we can chew.  It’s too much to incorporate all at once so we become overwhelmed and disillusioned.

Instead of rehashing past resolutions or staring down the laundry list of new ones, how about a fresh perspective on how to move forward. Let’s face it, the slate doesn’t wipe clean on January 1st. There isn’t a magical reset button that puts us at a new starting point. For most of us, we start 2013 exactly where we left off in 2012.

Most of my goals for 2013 are building on what I started in 2012. Some of my goals have moved forward nicely and others, not so much. Rather than generating a new list, I decided to think about what I want to start, stop and continue. Right about now, I can hear the collective groan of people who have been exposed to this approach that is commonly used in corporate performance evaluations. However, applying this method to how I approach my goals allows me to focus more on the “how” versus feeling the need to add more.

I decided to CONTINUE running. Last summer I started to run a couple of times a week. I’m not a runner and historically have never found much joy in lacing up my shoes and hitting the pavement. However, I was committed to running at least one or two miles twice a week. Now I’m completing a 5K twice a week. A big help for me is my new iPod nano with Nike+. By setting the distance before I start it lets me know how far I’ve gone and when I’m achieved my goal. This is a huge motivator for me. Plus it tells me how fast I’ve gone (in case you’re wondering, not very) and how long it takes (too long). I still only run twice a week and that’s perfect for me.

I decided to STOP procrastinating on projects that are outside my comfort zone and overwhelming. These projects tend to have a long time horizon. Given the bigness of these projects, I would operate on two extremes, either I take on too much that wasn’t sustainable over time or not really start it at all. In either case, I would become discouraged and the projects would languish.

I decided to START setting parameters on how I would tackle these projects. For my writing projects I will write at least one page a day. For projects where I’m adding a new skill, I set aside blocks of time. These parameters establish a discreet beginning and end. When I’ve completed my writing for the day or logged my time I can shut down my computer and turn to something else.

Since employing this approach, I feel more in control of my time and I have a greater level of satisfaction with what I achieve each day. What do you want to start, stop and continue in 2013?