Setting a new goal or a vision for the new year is relatively easy. This yearly ritual has all but become a fad – an albeit unproductive part of our urban culture.
However, seeing through these resolutions up to the point of realisation is where the problem lies for almost everyone.
Teens, Millennials, and older people fall into the same rabbit hole: they often find it difficult to sustain the discipline required to make such resolutions bear fruits due to one reason or the other.
All over the world, people create resolutions to either stop a habit, create a new one, start a new business, stay committed to their partners, hit the gym to lose some kilos, and so on.
Sadly, however, nothing much is achieved year after year despite the desire to make a difference.
Is this normal?
Are there any tried and proven methods to help us attain our New Year’s Resolutions?
What’s better than a resolution? A plan!
Do not choose another New Year’s Resolution, instead, plan constructively.
Do not join the bandwagon to make yearly pronouncements because everyone is doing so; instead, think profoundly and tactically plan a process of implementing real change.
Strategic planning means thinking through your proposed action in the long term as well as putting in place specific measures in the present to make those plans work out as you desire – and to your advantage.
Be that as it may, endeavour not to plan in a vacuum. Get strategic!
Ask yourself: is my plan S.M.A.R.T?
Is it Specific?
Is it Measurable?
Is it Achievable?
Is it Realistic?
Is it Time-bound?
Make this question the pivot on which your plan revolves – and write it down or talk to a friend/family about it.
That friend/family or piece of paper/digital notepad will be your accountability partner to remind you and help you stay on track (if/when you begin to develop cold feet or feel unmotivated altogether).
Goals, like resolutions, set without concrete planning, are mere wishes.
Remember the common saying, “if wishes were horses…!”
So, will attaining the S.M.A.R.T objectives be enough? Certainly not!
Use Affirmative words to keep your plan going
Practice the art of speaking affirmatively to bring your plans into existence.
History seems to suggest that we can achieve more if the words we use to back our plans are affirmative and not despondent. Being mortal beings, humans are naturally susceptible to self-doubt – especially when the desired outcome is grand or gargantuan.
But like Henry Ford once famously said:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right [either way].”
It all starts in your mind – success or failure, accomplishment or defeat, progress or inertia – everything begins and ends in your mind!
Great plans marinated with fear and doubt are merely passive words carrying loads of negative energy.
Such energy drowns the mind and causes the body to become weary, thus making it difficult to map out strategies that will ensure your plans become a reality.
Knowing that the words you speak have energy, the amount of positive energy your plans project will, to a great extent, determine the result you achieve in the end.
When drafting your goals and planning strategically, let your mind vibrate with life and your words with tons of energy so you will be able to align your thoughts with the inexhaustible abundance in the universe.
Be specific and never doubt your abilities
Never write (or say) “I think I can be a graduate,” instead write (or say) “I want to graduate with an MBA in two years,” or “I will graduate with that degree in two years.”
The specificity of your desire reveals how much time you need and what the outcome will be after you put in the effort.
Not being specific and clear about your plan is like a vehicle setting out on a directionless journey – you’ll never go anywhere or achieve anything meaningful because the universe does not understand your (confused) desires.
Second-guessing yourself is equivalent to putting a limit on how far you can go to achieve your pre-defined goals.
You have to believe you can achieve it in your mind by meditating on it over and over while blocking out the nay-sayers.
Another potent but straightforward trick is to have a vision board where you can see your plans as you awaken daily.
Draw timelines, create milestones and highlight exact points (with dates) when you hope to achieve the small steps that will lead to your end-goal.
These daily reminders, when added to your accountability partner mentioned above, will keep you on track always.
In effect, you will not achieve your plans and attain your purpose without a clear vision and well-defined goals (whether written, pasted on a board, or not).
Build up your self-defence; it’s going to be a bumpy ride ahead
Similar to a New Year’s Resolution, it is also easier to make a plan than to see it through to the end?
Numerous studies have shown that many people, if not most, abandon their New Year’s Resolutions before the end of January due to indiscipline or the inability to withstand challenges.
Some may stretch it to March or even June, but by and by, they forget all about it – and start all over again the next time January comes knocking.
The same applies to plans.
Such failures could be attributed to the need for instant gratification.
In a society characterised by expressions like instant noodles, instant mixers, and many more ‘instants,’ waiting a while and putting in the effort during the waiting period seems no more fanciful.
But are there any shortcuts to success?
Life does not work that way.
Without making sacrifices and staying the course, little – if anything – can be achieved.
As such, you must pay the price to get the prize.
The fact that you do not immediately see the results you envisioned as you begin to work on your plans does not mean they are not viable or achievable.
The actualisation of dreams, in effect, is a function of discipline. Said otherwise, the height you get to in life is dependent on how much you are willing to wound your ego and allow your whole body and mind take some pain.
Discipline, being the ability to stay focused and forge ahead no matter the obstacles, is one of the most powerful secrets to achieving success.
Slow but steady wins the race
Never forget that life is in stages and you can’t achieve everything in one fell swoop.
You need to break the process of achieving your plans into practicable bits that you can handle one step at a time.
In order words, to effect changes or to create a new habit, you need to think and work progressively.
The emphasis on this factor is essential because a lot of people who fail to reach their goals fall short because they tend to force (or rush) the entire process, thereby increasing entropy and random bouts of anxiety, which ultimately leads to failure.
Building a new habit, putting a stop to old ones, learning a new skill, restoring failed relationships, shedding off excess weight, getting that bachelor’s degree, etc., all demand the same process: take it one step at a time.
When you are in a hurry to achieve results, you will most likely skip some steps, and that will ultimately prove detrimental to reaching set goals and objectives.
As such, the breaking down of goals into a practicable work-plan as well as maintaining the discipline to keep to your pre-scheduled timeline will make your plans become a reality – every other thing being equal.
Tackling one activity at a time helps the mind to see thoughts more clearly and thereby work towards making them come to life. On the other hand, wishful thinking (otherwise called ‘New Year’s Resolutions’) only speaks about the result but not the process of achieving the goal.
That is a recipe for failure in and of itself.
Always monitor your progress as you implement your plans
To confirm if you are on the right track towards meeting your set target, you must have progress trackers in place to help you determine if you are still in-line or not.
In most scenarios, people don’t record their progress. This is another recipe for failure!
Since it is a fact that a steady increase in hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly actions sum up to produce the desired end-goal, tracking your results (including small errors and successes) with specific milestones in place will make you stay focused and strong-willed.
On the other hand, not strategising, planning, and executing activities meticulously with proper tracking mechanisms in place will leave you at the same spot as you started the year. There will be some form of motion but no sign of visible movement.
Furthermore, tracking your progress will provide doses of encouragement for your mind. In effect, scaling those small milestones become proof that your plans are working out and are achievable. This proof will, in turn, encourage you to put in more effort and stay the course all the way.
Be a doer and not a talker
Talk less and achieve more!
Successful people get known for the results they produce, surely not for how many times they ‘re-affirm’ their wishes by saying them over and over again as many are wont (or taught) to do.
Talking about your New Year’s Resolutions every day without working hard at them will not bring them any closer to actualisation.
Planning and staying the course, conversely, will help you achieve a lot.
Instead of repeatedly announcing your resolutions, it is better to write down your end-goal and then break it into smaller attainable steps. Afterwards, take the decisive action(s) required to make you a better version of yourself at the end of the year.
Successful people in all facets are commonly known to keep their plans to themselves, work hard at them, and then let the world see the result in due season.
It is, therefore, a primary reason they succeed while others who make songs out of their New Year’s Resolutions fail even before starting.
Bottom line: Plan; do not just wish and hope!
The year is on the move already; you do not want to be among the millions (or billions) that will end up with regrets over unfulfilled goals when the year ends.
Take the bull by the horn and become decisive, deliberate, and practical about what you have set out to achieve before the year runs out.
It may look or seem impossible.
Yes! That is true!
But you can do it if you put your mind to it.
The earlier you have a game-plan, the better.
Stick to your plan, no matter the challenges you encounter.
Also, stay away from people with negative energy – people who say, “you can’t.” Avoid people who do not encourage you but instead always tell you how impossible the task is!
Lastly, learn to celebrate the little milestones you attain, no matter how small they may seem. Such landmark moments are the incentives you need to achieve your end-goal.
Do. Not. Make. New. Year’s. Resolutions.