This Year, Make No Excuses for Your Resolutions

Most New Years Resolutions are destined to fail once February 1st rolls around. I will go to the gym. I will reconnect with my long lost family. I will take up stamp collecting. Whatever your goals may be, and whatever the time of year, don't let them sit on the back burner. Turn those resolutions into accomplishments! Here's how!

1. Think

Before you put pen to paper, just take a moment to think. Think about one thing you could change that would make your life better. It can be as small as getting a manicure or as large as going backpacking with Tibetan monks. When it comes to resolutions, size doesn't matter. All that matters is that your heart is behind it, and that it's realistic.

2. Plan

Once you've thought of a resolution, get out a nice notebook and a nice pen. At the top of the page, write your resolution in bold (and draw an inspiring illustration if you wish!). Then write the following headings: Purpose, Sub Goals, Resources, Timeline, Tracking, and Evaluation.

3. Purpose

Because you've taken the time to think hard about your resolution, your purpose should be clear. Make it concise and specific – no more than one sentence. Even if your purpose seems obvious, write it down anyway. This way, later on when you're feeling unmotivated, you can look back to this purpose and let it power you to follow through. Once your purpose is written, tell someone! Having a partner that can check in with you on your progress (and/or compete with you) is a healthy way to make sure you stay on track.

4. Sub Goals

Every resolution can be broken down into smaller parts. No one eats a whole pizza in one bite (unless you're a dinosaur?), so digest your resolution one slice at a time. Go to the micro level. Draw a Bubble Diagram with branches leading out of your main resolution, kind of like a family tree. This will help you visualize all the components of your goal. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, then your sub goals could be: 1) Sign up for a Spin Class, 2) Eliminate Carbs From One Meal Each Day, and 3) Take the Stairs Instead of the Elevator.

5. Resources

Much like the scientific method, the Resolution Method requires this section. Make a list of everything you will need to accomplish each sub goal. Get detailed! For the Spinning Class, you will need gear, a water bottle, a towel…To eliminate carbs, you'll need to stock up on healthy alternatives, and know where to buy them. These details will help to make the abstract into the concrete. Do your research!

6. Timeline

The reason why most resolutions fail is because they're not scheduled. Too often, we forget or neglect our to-do's because we don't make time for them. Decide when you want your goal to be accomplished, and how long each sub goal will take. Make time markers for yourself that divide your goal into checkpoints. For example, by X date, I will be registered for a spin class. By Y date, I will have lost five pounds. It's important to be disciplined, but not restrictive. If you haven't lost five pounds by Y date, think about why. Then recalculate and try again. Don't punish yourself if you need to make adjustments. It's important to remember that goals are not set in stone and require finagling.

7. Tracking

Like all scientists, it's important to keep field notes. Have your Resolution journal always nearby, and track your progress every day. What's working? What's not working? How do you feel? Your goals should not be causing you stress or keeping you up at night. They are there to motivate you. Are your goals changing? Did you come up with a new sub goal? Keep track!

8. Evaluation

Time's up. Did you accomplish your resolution? Sometimes you'll find that you not only did that, but also accomplished another or two along the way! Maybe you lost weight, but you also learned how to live a healthier lifestyle. Check in with your buddy. Discuss your progress and make a plan to continue and perfect that resolution!

If you follow these steps, any resolution can be turned into an accomplishment! And remember: accomplishments feel good, but maintaining their aftereffects is what really counts. Allow your concrete resolution to transcend your original purpose. Be the person that you want to be!

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