Making New Years’ Resolutions Stick

Jay Dee

Making New Years’ Resolutions Stick

Jan 01, 2015

Well, it’s that time of year again, when people start making resolutions.  “This year’s going to be different” you say!  But what are you doing to ensure it’s different.  What makes you more likely to attain your resolutions this year? Well, I thought I would offer some

Make New Years Resolutions StickWell, it’s that time of year again, when people start making resolutions.  “This year’s going to be different” you say!  But what are you doing to ensure it’s different.  What makes you more likely to attain your resolutions this year?

Well, I thought I would offer some friendly tips.  Some free coaching as it were.

Set SMART Goals

Do you know what SMART goals are?  Many people do these days, but not everyone, so I feel I should go over them.  SMART is an acronym that describes good goals.

Goals should be Specific, not vague.  A goal of “our marriage will improve” is not specific.  You can’t point to what’s going to improve, how it will improve, and when you’ll have accomplished your goal.

Goals should be Measurable.  “In our marriage, we’ll feel more connected” is not measurable.  You can’t objectively point to “connectedness” and measure if it’s improved over last year.  But what if your marriage is suffering from a lack of connectedness?  Attach it to something measurable.  If you feel connected when you have date nights, then change it to something that reflects those.  “We’ll go out on more date nights” is a significant improvement.  That’s measurable.

Goals should be Attainable.  If you set a goal of “We’re going to go out of a date night every week”, but you have 5 kids at home under the age of 9 (our situation come February), then a weekly date night might not be attainable.  Babysitters are just too expensive.  You might need to switch to a monthly date night, or an at home date night.  Attainable also means having a plan in place to make it happen.

Goals should be Realistic.  Sometimes we switch this out for Relevant.  Goals should match your means, your will, and what you want to accomplish in your life.  If your marriage is suffering from connectedness, perhaps choosing a goal revolving around finances isn’t the highest priority.

Goals should be Timely.  Sometimes we say Time bound.  They should have a deadline, so you know when you have either succeeded, and can move on with another goal, or need to refocus, perhaps adjust your goal.

So, in our example above, a SMART goal could be “In order to feel connected in our marriage, by next January, we will have gone on twelve monthly date nights.”  This is a Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic/Relevant and Timely/Time bound goal.

Increase your chances of attaining your goal

Fantastic, now you have a goal.  So, how do we make sure you meet it?

There are some stats I learned while training to be a Christian Marriage Coach that you may be interested in.

Going through the process above, choosing a SMART goal and writing it down gives you about a 10% chance of achieving it.  Now, that’s pretty bad.  This is probably the majority of the people who have a New Year’s resolution.  But New Year’s resolutions are almost synonymous with failed attempts at life change.  So, how do we increase that odd?

Well, by deciding to make a real commitment to your goal increases it to 25%.  This is when, instead of saying “Next year, I think I might work out three times a week”, you actually think and feel, “Yeah, I’m going to do it, I can do it, that’s my goal, that’s what I’m going to focus on!”  Now, 25% isn’t bad, but that’s still at 75% failure rate.

The next level is when you decide when to start.  “I’m going to start working out on New Years Day!….No, that’s dumb, I’ll be exhausted…maybe the day after, yeah, that’s it, the day after, and I’m going to book my calendar off now for it!”  This making a date to start actually increases your odds to 40%.  You almost have a 50/50 chance of succeeding.  This goal attaining stuff is harder than we thought, isn’t it?  No wonder we usually fail as a society at New Year’s resolutions.

To bump it up to 50%, you need to make a plan of how you’re going to manage this goal.  This includes scheduling things in advance, working out possible obstacles, getting the tools, skills, equipment, whatever you need to actually do this thing.  Congratulations, you’ve put a lot of effort in and haven’t even started.  You just hit 50%.  It’s still hit or miss.  So, how do we make this more likely to succeed than fail.

Turns out, we can’t really on our own.  We need to bring someone else in.  This is why people often run in groups, train with friends, go to a gym with people.  Why athletic teams tend to practice more than individuals, and music bands more than individual artists.  Making a commitment to another person to implement your plan to make your goal increases your chances to 65%.  Now we’re getting somewhere.  But, this last step is the killer.

If you want to raise your chances to 95%(!), you need to make an appointment with someone else specifically to talk about how you are doing in your plan to meet you goal.  You need to have someone to hold you accountable.  But we, as humans, hate to let anyone down, and we hate to look like failures.  This drive to impress, to want people to be proud of us will spur us on to work our plan, even when we don’t feel like it.  If you know that in a week someone is going to ask you if you exercised 3 times this week, you’re more likely to actually do it.  If you know they will ask why you didn’t, offer advice on how to improve your chances next week, offer to keep you accountable more often, and basically be there are not only someone watching, but supporting you, then it’s nearly guaranteed you will make your goal.

The trick is that this partner needs to be invested in your goal, in your plan.  They have to love you enough to care for your to succeed.  Some spouses make excellent accountability partners.  Some aren’t so excellent.  Some friends are really good at this too, others not so much.  Try to find someone who can keep you focused, with loving support, and you can make your New Year’s resolutions a reality this year.

And as much as I hate to do “sales”, I know a lot of you struggle to meet your goals, in marriage, and personal life, due to a lack of support, and I have a passion for helping people.  If you need help setting smart goals, coming up with a plan, or sticking to it, I’m more than willing to help you through any or all of the process.  Check out Anonymous Marriage Coaching for more information.

Your Turn

What are your SMART goals this year?  How are you going to accomplish them?  If people are interested, maybe we can create a virtual group and hold each other accountable.  Sort of an anonymous group coaching. Let me know what you think.

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