This article originally appeared on BusinessDay.
Hold on. This is not some random proposition.
Studies have shown that resolutions are not as effective and many times, are bound to fail from the get go.
According to research by the University of Scranton, USA, only 8% of people keep to their new year’s resolutions.
This is probably a good time to define a resolution to avoid any potential ambiguity.
A quick dictionary search defines it as the “act of resolving” (Merriam Webster Dictionary). That’s not really helpful but a further examination of the word points to finding a solution to a problem or our ability to determine something.
That’s sounds more altruistic than practicable. The fact that I want to be a better me in 2017 doesn’t mean it will magically happen.
The better way
There is a better and more effective way to do achieve more in 2017. It is not rocket science but thankfully more intentional.
You may wonder if there’s any difference between resolutions and goals. I did as well.
Another quick dictionary search shows that goals are “something you are trying to do or achieve”. It is further defined as “the end toward which effort is directed”.(Merriam Webster Dictionary).
Do you see any similarities in these definitions? Both words point to doing something but goals seem to take this a step further by the inclusion of action(effort). You basically have to do! It’s not enough to resolve, there has to be a plan to do.
Beyond the systems we use, whether we call them resolutions or goals, there are a few other reasons why we fail to achieve more in any given year.
According to Liz Ryan of Reinvention Roadmap, a critical element that is missing from most of our new year’s resolutions comes from the fact that we don’t consider our ‘why’. I totally agree.
While I want to save more, earn more and hopefully give out more money, it is also instrumental to know my reasons for wishing to do these things.
Many times, we set these resolutions for things we think we should be doing such as losing weight (an all time favourite), saving money (another favourite) and other self development options without considering the full picture.
These resolutions are almost like a reprimand to our current selves. The tone and nature of the resolutions point to our weaknesses and inadequacies in a manner that doesn’t really encourage real growth.
A man who is made to feel like a loser is less likely to strive to achieve success. This may be because he has an even bigger internal battle to fight (coming from a place of ‘not being good enough’)
This calls for a mind-set shift. Rather than using resolutions, consider your potential and set goals which highlight these.
This basically means you have to believe in yourself. This is not some self talk mumbo jumbo but really about using your skill, capabilities and resources to your advantage.
You also have to keep your goals simple and tangible. Set goals that are realistic, measurable and time bound.
For instance, if you wish to save more money in 2017. Start out by determining your why? Is the plan to save more money your way of getting closer to financial freedom or just an opportunity to achieve certain short term goals including traveling or bumping up your emergency fund?
Finding your ‘why will help you define how best to achieve the goal.
This means you shouldn’t spend too much time focusing on the what (lose weight, save more money or write a book) but rather consider the how.
Determining your how gives you a clearer picture of all that you need to achieve your goals and is bound to make your goals more successful.
Your next step is to breakdown.
How much are you looking to save and how long do you wish to save for? Put a realistic target and timeline based on your current financial growth and opportunities. Do note that your goals don’t have to take a whole year to be achieved. It could be for a month, 3 months or more.
For some of you, this may seem like a different take on new year’s resolutions but you would probably agree with me that it’s time we changed things particularly where they have not been working for us.
Last but not the least reason why our resolutions fail is because of our lack of commitment.
You know what I’ve realized; it’s easier to be committed to your goals where your goals are based on things you want to do and not things you think others expect of you. Goal setting is a personal endeavor; this doesn’t negate the place of external influences but make them secondary to your primary concerns.
“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.”
The above quote is believed to have been made by Thomas Edison. Notwithstanding the authorship, it is a great quote about the need to be persistent and consistent with our goals while also maintaining our fluidity (common sense – ability to tweak things as the need arises).
For me, I created a central theme for the new year (which is on giving) and my goals will be geared towards this.
Rather than being saddled with resolutions you know deep down, you do not have the wherewithal to achieve, how about we choose tangible and realistic goals for 2017.
All the best!