Saturday, December 27, 2008

How to Create an Actionable and Successful New Years Resolution

This is an article that I wrote which was recently published! Feel free to visit the article here as well:

It is again that time to evaluate the year that is coming to a close and to dream of what could be in the New Year that is upon us. Some of us will develop New Year's Resolutions and dream big. Some of us will look with a cynical eye at that process and let another year go by without fulfilling a dream. Unfortunately, the latter approach stems from how so many of us have created those New Years resolutions only to find that we are not successful within months, if not weeks into the New Year.

Here are some basic tips and examples of how to create a New Year's Resolution that you can truly incorporate into your every day life. Go ahead and dream big, you can be successful with a New Year's Resolution! Make 2009 your year to accomplish greatness and use these tips to help loved ones accomplish their desires along with you!

The first step is to decide what is a realistic desire or dream is and to write it down at the top of a piece of paper. You have to define what your goal is. Furthermore it has to be something that you can realistically accomplish. "World Peace" is amazing, and I admire that sentiment. But that is bigger than me, and I need something that I can work on every day that I own and can directly impact.

Then, on this same piece of paper draw a line down the middle of that paper and one half of the page should be titled Qualitative and the other have should be titled Quantitative. The Qualitative side describes the qualities of your dream or desire. How will it feel, how will it change your life, how will it impact those that you know and love? The Quantitative side is how it will be documented, weighed, supported and measured. Once you have brainstormed this on our own, I strongly suggest sharing these ideas with a loved one. You can get their input and ideas, and even more importantly, their "buy-in" to help support your goals! Putting all of this together on your sheet of paper is the foundation to creating an actionable game plan to accomplish this resolution.

Here are three of examples to assist you in understanding how easy this process is, what it could look like and provide some ideas for your New Year's Resolution!

Example 1:
I want to create a budget to save money.

Qualitative factors:
I will have to prepare myself to go without something that may be special to me.
I will sacrifice to save that money.
I will feel better if I have some extra money in the bank, for an emergency or for something fun.
I love my daily mocha at work, but that would be something that I could sacrifice that would save me a lot of money.

Quantitative factors:
That beloved mocha costs $3.95 each day that I work.
I work roughly 260 days of the year.
If I do not buy that mocha each day, I will save $1027.00 with this resolution.
To ensure that I save that money, I am going to set up a bank account into which I will transfer $3.95 for each day that I go without my mocha.
By the end of the year I should have $1027.00 in that account (without any adjustments for interest, of course!).

Example 2:
I want to lose weight this year.

Qualitative factors:
I know that I will feel better.
I will be able to fit back into my skinny jeans.
I will extend my life expectancy and enjoy my family longer!

Quantitative factors:
It is realistic to lose on the average 1 pound per week, so my first goal is to lose 20 pounds this year. I will strive for that first 20, and continue forward once I have hit that goal.
To lose approximately 1 pound per week, I need to cut about 300-500 calories per day.
A daily mocha is about 330-400 calories, depending upon the milk I ask for (nonfat slightly less than whole milk, of course)
If I no longer drink a daily mocha, I will save at least 330 calories per day.
I will track my daily caloric intake in a weight loss journal and add up the calories each day. I will not add anything to my diet that would take the place of those 330 calories!
I will weigh in every Monday and ensure that I am losing my 1 pound each week.
I will enter that weight each week into my weight loss journal and ensure that I am on track to lose my one pound per week.
I will also increase my exercise by using that time that I typically got the mocha and sat to drink it to walk instead; walking each day, 5 days a week for approximately 30 minutes.
I will note that walking each day in my weight loss journal to stay on track with my overall weight loss goal.

Example 3:
I want to focus on family this year.

Qualitative factors:
I know that it will bring my family closer together.
I know that we will have fun together and create family memories to last a lifetime.
I may save even more money by not going out.

Quantitative factors:
As we are a busy family, we will post a family calendar.
We will set each Friday night aside as a family night and put that on the calendar.
Everyone can plan their week around that evening.
We will create a rotation of who gets to select what we do that evening to keep that evening interesting, fun and spontaneous.
That rotation will be noted on the calendar by calling each Friday night by the family member's name and chosen activity, like Kelly's Cooking Night in which we all cook a meal together.
We will also document each evening by taking pictures or video and create a yearlong digital diary of our evenings together.

As you can see, New Year's Resolutions can be fun and can help you create true change in your life. By discovering both the Qualitative or subjective and emotional roots in your resolution AND the Quantitative or objective and measurable aspects in your resolution, you will be far more successful in accomplishing your resolution all year long. You can dream big and still be successful! With just these few statements on either side of my Resolution page, I can craft a game plan that will work, that is actionable, that is measurable and that will help me save money, lose weight and/or improve my family life.

From here, I suggest typing up your New Year's Resolution and laminating a couple of copies. One posted by your mirror so you are reminded of it every morning is a great way to start your day in the right direction. Put one copy by something that is a constant reminder of your Resolution. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, post it on your pantry door. That way you can think about your Resolution before opening that door for a snack! Of course, you will also need to prepare and have your tools handy and in a place that you touch every day. For example, for weight loss, you may need to get a pedometer and a journal in which you can track your calories, weigh-ins and your exercise routine. Keep that on your desk if you check email each day, or in your purse or briefcase so you can track your progress throughout the day.

Finally, don't forget to celebrate the wins. If you lose your first 20 pounds, treat yourself to something special. Maybe a new pair of jeans you have had your eyes on, or a makeup makeover! If you save your budgeted savings, pay off some debt and celebrate your steps toward financial freedom or retirement! If you find that you enjoy those amazing family nights together, create a digital scrapbook as a gift to your loved ones next Holiday season. Make a calendar that spotlights 12 of your favorite pictures together, or create a journal of your favorite pictures for your kids.

1 comment:

Andrus said...

This is great advice!

I myself am a big fan of making resolutions, small or big, throughout the year.

So much so that myself and two friends created Pledgehammer on our free time . It provides an easy way to write resolutions down (and save a small tree somewhere by not using paper:) , have a concrete deadline and share with whoever you want to share them with. As you said 'buy in' increases the chances of the resolution becoming a reality. It also has a charitable 'flipside' to it - if you can't stick to your resolution Pledgehammer asks you to donate money to charity.

Would love to hear if this helps people keep their resolutions.