Becoming the 8%: How to Set New Year’s Resolutions that Don’t Fail

New Year’s resolutions are common around the world. In fact, many surveys about the most common resolutions (as well as the most commonly broken resolutions) include things like:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Save Money and Get out of debt
  3. Spend more time with family and friends
  4. Quit smoking
  5. Drink Less
  6. Find a better job
  7. Learn something new
  8. Volunteer
  9. Travel to new places
  10. Get organized

If you’re one of the people in the ritual of setting New Year’s resolutions, there’s a good chance at least one of these ten made your list. And if you’re like most people, you’ve probably experienced a certain amount of defeat in reaching your goals. Stephen Shapiro’s research suggests that only 8% of Americans say they always achieve their New Year’s resolutions.

So how do you become part of the 8%? How do you set new year’s resolutions that don’t fail? I share a practical, proven process in my FREE ebook, How to Create a Plan for Personal Growth. I have also found the following four ingredients to be essential to experience success:

1. Take the “Mount Everest” Out of Your Resolutions

Look at the top ten list above. Each of these goals looks like Mount Everest because they’re too broad and extremely vague. How much debt do you want to reduce? What kind of job do you want? What exactly is the “something new” that you want to learn? Focus your resolutions by stating them in the most specific terms possible. Specificity takes the “Mount Everest feeling” out of your resolutions.

Specificity takes the Mount Everest feeling out of your new year resolutions. Click To Tweet

2. Avoid the “When” by Moving from “What” to “How”

Your new year’s resolution is the “What” that you’re trying to achieve. But success also requires a very specific “How.” How will you turn your What into reality? Without “How” your “What” will always be nothing more than a “When.” “When” will you get organized? “When” will you spend more quality time with your family and friends? “When” will you volunteer to help others?

So how do you put the “How” into your resolutions? I would encourage you to craft a “How To” plan that leverages four practical growth ingredients:

  • Training – Find the training you need to reach the goals you’ve set. Training can serve as a motivator and provide helpful knowledge to reach your resolutions. Training often includes seminars, workshops, classes, or formal education.
  • Resources – Include in your plan relevant resources such as books, podcasts, assessments, and web-based tools that will help you take steps toward your goal.
  • Relationships – One of the most underestimated growth ingredients is coaching and mentoring. Reflect on your network of relationships and determine who can help you reach your resolutions. Or, if you’re really serious, consider hiring a professional coach in the area where you want to grow.
  • Experiences – Whether it’s a personal assignment, practical activity, or taking advantage of a unique opportunity, experiences serve as important steps in turning resolutions into reality.

By crafting a “how to” plan with each of these ingredients, you make your resolution practical, specific, and achievable. For example, if your new year’s resolution is focused on deepening your relationship with Christ, you might develop a “How To” plan that includes a spiritual retreat (Training), a Bible study plan (Resources), a prayer partner (Relationships), and a day alone with God (Experiences). The more specific your plan, the better your roadmap to success. (To learn more about the four practical growth ingredients above, download my free ebook, How to Create a Plan for Personal Growth.)

3. Incorporate Your Resolutions Into Your Routines

Your “How To” plan has to move from a document stored somewhere in your computer to the place where your daily routines happen. That place for most of us is our calendar, to-do list, or a mobile app that helps us track our lives. Take each action step in your “How To” plan and input it into whatever you use to track your time and priorities. Assign each action step a start date, end date, and take advantage of scheduling options and reminder features. When you take this step, you give yourself permission to forget your “How To” plan without forgetting the steps necessary to reach your resolutions. Resolutions and time management are deeply intertwined.

4. Intentionally Pursue Accountability

Honestly, this is where most resolutions fail. Without somebody holding your feet to the fire, you’ll find it too easy to make excuses and avoid the pain of growth. For each resolution, invite somebody to hold you accountable. Provide them with specific questions to ask you that will keep you focused and on task. Share the details of your “How To” plan and give them permission to ask you anything that will help you grow. Most importantly, set a standing appointment with your accountability partner. I have two accountability partners that I meet with regularly. I don’t have to remember to schedule these appointments. They are standing, reoccurring appointments in my calendar.

Whether you call them new years resolutions, growth goals, or have your own title for them, these four ingredients are essential to see measurable progress. Put them to work in your own life and your growth will steadily move forward. If you want to learn more about setting and reaching growth goals, check out my FREE ebook, How to Create a Plan for Personal Growth.

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