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I can’t help but notice that when people write New Years Resolutions, they generally don’t succeed.  In other words, it’s become a sort of tradition to write a long list of goals you don’t intend to achieve in the new year.  Isn’t that insane?  What’s the point of even writing a list of resolutions in the first place if you don’t intend to at least try to achieve them. So, in the interest of seeing people, including myself, complete a few resolutions this year, I’m going to post a step-by-step guide to writing a list of resolutions that you can actually achieve!

Step 1. Keep Your List Short.  First of all, resolutions are only goals.  If you make your list of goals too long, it won’t take much time for you to start feeling overwhelmed.  Keep it to, at most, three really important things.  Since this is going to leave me with a pretty involved list, I’m going to use the highlighted entry as the basis of my examples. By the way, this is why I suggest you keep your list short.

Example:

  • Lose Weight
  • Keep Up With the Housekeeping
  • Complete My DBT Workbook

Step 2. Simplify.  Simplifying only means breaking your goals down into doable steps.  It means getting more specific.

Example:

  • Lose Weight
    • Exercise
    • Eat Right

Step 3. Set a Time Limit.  This will require you to simplify even more.  It’s easier to achieve a goal if the steps you’re taking have deadlines to them.  Make sure to make your deadlines very specific.

Example:

  • Lose Weight
    • Exercise
      • Go for a walk for 30 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday beginning in 2017
      • Visit the gym for an hour on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday beginning in 2017
    • Eat Right
      • Eat breakfast and lunch every day
      • Stop eating any meal when I’ve had enough

Step 4: Make Your Progress Measurable.  When you have a goal you’re trying to accomplish, the quickest way to see success is to make your progress something that can be measured.  Be sure to keep records of your progress, so you can look back on them occasionally when it starts getting boring and see how far you’ve come.

Example:

  • Lose Weight
    • Exercise
      • Go for a walk for 30 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday beginning in 2017
      • Visit the gym for an hour on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday beginning in 2017
    • Eat Right
      • Eat breakfast and lunch every day
      • Stop eating any meal when I’ve had enough
    • Progress:
      • Once a week, measure my bust, chest, waist, and hips.
      • Note the measurements in a spread sheet
      • Graph the results.

Step 5. Reward Success.  It’s easier to give up if there’s no reward for succeeding.  Basically, suggesting a reward is setting yourself up for success.

Example:

  • Lose Weight
    • Exercise
      • Go for a walk for 30 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday beginning in 2017
        • Daily Reward: Gold Star on the Calendar
      • Visit the gym for an hour on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday beginning in 2017
        • Daily Reward: Gold Star on the Calendar
    • Eat Right
      • Eat breakfast and lunch every day
        • Daily Reward: Silver star on the Calendar
      • Stop eating any meal when I’ve had enough
        • Daily Reward: Purple star on the Calendar
    • Progress:
      • Once a week, measure my bust, chest, waist, and hips.
      • Note the measurements in a spread sheet
      • Graph the results
    • Rewards:
      • Weekly: Put $5 in the reward jar
      • Monthly: Take a progress photo.
      • Completion: Buy some new clothing using the reward jar money

Step 6. Adjust Following Failure:  You’re going to have slip-ups.  That’s just a fact of life.   Starting a new goal is easy.  Sticking with it can be hard.  After all, you’re basically changing how you live your life and change takes time.  Since making and working goals is basically an experiment, you have to learn to take setbacks as a problem with the experiment, rather than a problem with you.  As with any  experiment, if you fail to follow through once, look at your goal and adjust it to compensate, then continue on.  You only truly fail if you give up.  In the case of our example, let’s say I have trouble realizing when I’ve had enough to eat at a meal.  I would evaluate the goal and adjust accordingly.  Like so.

Example:

  • Lose Weight
    • Exercise
      • Go for a walk for 30 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday beginning in 2017
        • Daily Reward: Gold Star on the Calendar
      • Visit the gym for an hour on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday beginning in 2017
        • Daily Reward: Gold Star on the Calendar
    • Eat Right
      • Eat breakfast and lunch every day
        • Daily Reward: Silver star on the Calendar
      • Recognize when I’ve had enough to eat.
        • Reward: Purple star on the Calendar whenever I notice I’ve had enough. Add $5 to the reward jar for doing this four times in a week.
    • Progress:
      • Once a week, measure my bust, chest, waist, and hips.
      • Note the measurements in a spread sheet
      • Graph the results
    • Rewards:
      • Weekly: Put $5 in the reward jar
      • Monthly: Take a progress photo.
      • Completion: Buy some new clothing using the reward jar money

I want to finish up by inviting you to leave your list in the comments section, assuming you can fit it in there.  My  love to all of you and may your New Year be filled with excellence.

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