As promised in today’s earlier post, here are my tips for writing New Year’s Resolutions:
1. Be specific.
I think part of the reason I used to avoid writing goals/resolutions in specific terms is because I was afraid of failure. I was afraid that if I set a certain standard for myself, that it would crush me if I met it (it should be said here that I struggle with anxiety and, to some degree, perfectionism). So instead of setting the standard and trying to see if I could reach it, I settled for writing a vague goal that I could always manipulate and claim that I had met. I have realized now that NOT setting specific goals is a set-up for failure. You need to give yourself a clear endpoint that you are working toward. If you don’t meet it, you don’t meet it. There’s no question and no opportunity to lie to yourself – and that’s not a bad thing. No matter what, you’ll have gained something from your efforts, and you’ll be able to improve them the next time around.
2. Give parameters.
Learning to knit has been a goal of mine for several years now. Whenever I make a list of goals, be it New Year’s resolutions, semester goals, or summer goals, “learn to knit” has been on it. The whole time, my focus as been on mastering the process of knitting, and not on what I will be able to do once I have gained that skill. For 2011, one of my resolutions is “Learn how to knit and make at least one scarf.” My goal is now focused on the mastering of the skill and putting the skill to use, making the meeting of the goal “learn to knit” more meaningful and providing me with more motivation.
3. Explain how you will fulfill the resolution.
I struggled with a few of my 2011 resolutions when I attempted to write them in specific terms that contained parameters. For example, two of my resolutions deal with creating a wardrobe and decorating my home (my future apartment after graduation). I was unsure how incorporate an endpoint into these resolutions. After, as creatively driven ones, they would never be fully complete, and I am unsure what my money situation that will fund these resolutions will be like in future. So instead of including specific language such as “complete” or number amounts, I explained how I would create my wardrobe and decorate my home. For example: “Create and wear a wardrobe with intention by purchasing and wearing items that match my identified style, can be dressed up and down, and can easily be mixed in with items I already own, as well as donating/selling items I no longer wear.” Throughout 2011 and at the end of the year, I can measure my progress in fulfilling this resolution by evaluating whether or not I am taking the actions I said I would.
4. Use positive terminology.
The idea behind this tip is simple: stay positive! It’s better to phrase your goals in positive terminology than bad terminology – in other words, it’s better to focus on bettering your life than to focus on what you don’t like about it. For example, one of my goals is to “Eat at least two servings of both fruits and veggies every day.” This is one of my goals because: (a) I personally need to incorporate more of specific vitamins/minerals into my diet and (b) I eat a lot of junk food/food with added sugar and would like to reduce that habit. Notice I did not phrase my goal as “Eat less junk food.” All that phrasing does is remind me of the habit I have that I feel disheartened by and does not provide me with a positive action I can take to change my bad habit.
5. Include just-for-fun goals.
This tip is pretty self-explanatory. Include goals that have nothing to do with your health, your career, your relationships, your money, etc. Make goals with the idea of simply enriching your life and increasing the enjoyment you get out of every day. Example from my resolutions would include: reading 25 books, learning to knit, go camping, etc.
6. Be honest.
When goal-setting, you should always dream big. However, you should also be realistic with yourself. When I originally wrote my 2011 resolutions, I listed “Read 50 books.” When I thought about it, though, I realized reading 50 books would take a lot of time, and if I was going to be honest with myself, I didn’t think I could do it. That would be around four books a month, and I doubted I would have always time for that in the coming year. Instead, I pared it down to “Read 25 books” (or two books a month) and felt much more comfortable with my goal.
What tips do you have for goal-setting? Want to join the challenge but are unsure of what type of goals you want to make? Check out these ideas from around the web: