Ringing in the New Year can be a time when people reflect on their lives and set some goals. It’s a time when we recommit ourselves to all those #goals we never accomplished last New Year. I read a quote recently by Joey Adams that read, “May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions.”
I started wondering why do we never stick to those New Years’s resolutions? What’s the ingredient missing that separates the successful from the rest of us? I set a couple of resolutions myself this year. One was to eat healthier. I felt that was a great goal for the year, until I found myself eating a snickers bar in the parking lot of a grocery store on New Year’s Day. In fact I was half way through eating the delicious, chocolate covered, peanut, caramel and nougat goodness before I realized I had already broken my resolution. There I was only a few hours into my day and feeling like a giant failure. It was time to find a New Year’s re-solution to my resolution.
I realize now that I hadn’t really committed to the goal. I said I wanted to eat healthier but I didn’t come up with a plan on how to do that. I was relying solely on willpower. According to ACE Behavior Modification Specialists in order to accomplish goals you have to make specific plans and decide on a strategy. Making plans means getting a vision. Imagine yourself accomplishing a goal, see yourself doing the steps that get you to the goal, and then do them. These are the things that turn goal setting into goal accomplishment. The Bible says in Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” KJV. In the NIV it reads “Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint…” Either way it’s clear that having a vision is important. In fact in the book Will Power by psychologist Roy Baumeister and science writer John Tierney they discuss the importance of planning to reduce reliance on willpower. They say having a clear goal is “the first step in self-control.” You may think that doesn’t make sense but think about the example they use of going to the grocery store. When you go to the grocery store hungry you spend money buying things you don’t need even if you have a list because the temptation of hunger is greater than your willpower. However if you go to the store with a list, a budget and a little food in your tummy, your result will be much different. Having no vision is equivalent to traveling with no directions. If have no route planned how do you know where to go?
I have been reading and researching lots about what makes successful people successful. One thing I discovered is that goal accomplishment is multifaceted. It involves several key components. Behavior Modification Specialists use the classic SMART goals model. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. For instance you may want to smile more this year. The question is smile more than what? A SMART goal to smile more might be; “I’m going to smile at three people every day for the next 21 days.” However if you’re agoraphobic, You’re probably not going to see three people every day…so it may not be realistic. It makes sense to set a realistic goal, to place a time limit on it, and to measure it. In 21 days if you haven’t succeeded you can reevaluate your goals and set new ones.
As you put a strategy into place for moving toward success in your goals, you begin to create habits. Habits become automatic responses which require little willpower. According to Dr. BJ Fogg at Tiny Habits the key to creating habits is to connect them to something you already do. For instance if you want to have buns of steel, you might make a plan to do a squat every time you receive a text message. The text message becomes the reminder for you to do your squats. Before you know it you’ll have glorious glutes and those around you will want to know your secret. Remember though it takes commitment and commitment always takes time. Today at church my good friend Matty B. said the “little things no one wants to do become the big things everybody wants”. I’m sure he won’t mind my borrowing his words of wisdom. Be patient. Handle each day as it comes. If you mess up, remember you’re in good company. Forgive yourself and get back on track.
Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.