Let me cut to the chase.
Successful New Year’s Resolutions do NOT depend on:
- Your intentions
- Your willpower
- How well thought out your goals are
- The snappy new workout gear you received at Christmas
- The new app on your iPhone
Keeping New Year’s Resolutions past March requires a bit of planning, but the answer is quite simple. Let me illustrate with a quick story.
If you are a regular part of my tribe, you know Jack—my third son. He is the senior in high school that recently ignored family tradition to forge his own path by choosing Auburn. I believe the photo below adequately illustrates his standing in our family.
Six and a half years ago, Jack presented Christy and me with a surprising document. His older brother Britton recently received his first car that Christmas—one that we hoped would take him through college. It was the first big purchase for one of the kids, so we took the opportunity to discuss college and finances.
Looking back, we were such good parents! (Ha!)
All the talk must have stimulated Jack’s thinking because look at what Jack wrote a few weeks later.
If you can’t decipher, it is a contract stating to the best of his 12 year old ability, that if he worked hard and received a college scholarship that we would be on the hook for a car.
Several things of note about the contract:
- The contract is between Jack and Christy. I am not a “partecipint”—only a “whitness.”
- At time of writing, I felt safe that we would not have to buy said car. (See spelling of word “partecipint” and “whitness” in #1 above.)
- Jack is such a charmer. Look at that first sentence: “Jack agrees with his mother…” So this was Christy’s idea to buy Jack a car? Maybe he should have been a lawyer.
As a twelve year old, Jack displayed the three things that we all can use to help us reach our goals—including New Year’s Resolutions.
#1 Dream big.
Some people call these STRETCH goals. Stretch goals cannot be achieved in one day. They are big and ambitious, but they tap into our inner core. I have a stretch goal right now to finish my third book by March. Christy has a goal weight to reach before Jack graduates in May. What is your big goal for 2017?
Why is dreaming important? When we dream about something big, our reflections energize us. Dreaming stimulates our intrinsic or self-motivation. Intrinsic motivation provides the energy—and you’ll need a lot—to fuel our actions toward success.
Back in 2010, Jack wanted a Toyota FJ Cruiser to drive to college. He dreamed of what it would be like to have this car … four years before he could drive!
#2 Do what is in front of you, and do it well.
My stretch goal of writing a 50,000 word book by the end of March seems a bit overwhelming to me. But here is my plan to get there.
50,000 words over 13 weeks = 3,000 words a week
3,000 words a week, writing 16 hours a week = 187.5 words an hour
187.5 words = about ¾ of a page per hour.
Break your stretch goal down into what I call the adverb questions.
- WHY am I doing this?
- WHAT specifically should I do or not do?
- HOW will I show progress?
- WHEN/WHERE will I do it?
Jack had no clue about how to get a scholarship to college. He didn’t know the requirements. He wasn’t ready for advanced placement (AP) classes. He had never heard of the ACT. He did not know the commitment that would be required to juggle sports and academics.
But he knew this. Reading would lead him towards that FJ Cruiser more than video games. So he read a lot. He got used to the discipline of being alone with his thoughts. So when algebra came along, he was ready. When AP Physics showed up, he put forth effort.
He focused on effort and the outcome took care of itself. Break down your goal into doable pieces, then just do the next thing.
#3 Have someone hold you accountable
Humans are social creatures. We are the pinnacle of the food chain because we have learned to function together. My next statement may be controversial, but I believe it to be 100% true.
Nothing will help you accomplish your goals more effectively than involving other people.
In my experience, isolation hampers a leader in these ways:
- They miss perspective and/or context.
- They solve problems or make decisions from their bias.
- They view life/work as a competition instead of a collaboration.
- They refuse to access experience, ideas, processes that can help.
Jack gave Christy (it still stings) a contract to put him on the hook. Every time report cards came out, we reminded him of his FJ Cruiser. When he asked us to help navigate his social calendar versus his academic calendar, we reminded him to line his behaviors up with his goal.
Christy visits someone every Thursday to make sure she gets to her goal before Jack graduates. I am providing a weekly progress report to a colleague to keep my book on track.
Who will help you with your goals?
Here is Jack standing with his contract and the Tacoma he will drive to Auburn … his scholarship more than paid for it! (It is not an FJ Cruiser, but that was a collective decision based on cost. He is the third child, so we had to make some concessions!)
Use this blog and the PDF below to write out your New Year’s Resolutions for 2017! Have a great year!