Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Resolution Success: In 5 Easy Steps

Angie here:
Focus on 12 monthly goals rather than one big annual resolution.

Vince commented on an earlier post that resolutions were goals on steroids and then gave the advice to set one goal each month. I loved that fresh look at New Year's Resolutions. I'm a very goal oriented personality so this idea is totally attractive to me. But I think it would work really well for other personality types too.

Setting monthly goals makes a lot of sense because it can break down a big resolution into 12 smaller steps. Exactly the way to reach any goal without getting overwhelmed. But could you still lose track of monthly goals? Sure. Let's look at how to solve that dilemma and succeed at New Year resolutions.

First step: Write down your dream. See yourself one year from now. What do you feel so passionate about that you're willing to make it a priority? Visualization is huge! You'll need at least a few hours to give it your attention. What would drive you nuts if you looked back one year from now and hadn't done it? How would that feel? Some people need to imagine the loss of the goal/dream to realize the importance of it.

Second step: Work the goal backwards in monthly increments. Set the final step for Dec. 2011, then Nov. 2011, and so on. It can be hard to know what the next step is in the chain of events. Successful people often visualize the end and then they can visualize what the step right before the goal might be. It's okay to adjust through the year as things clarify. The point is to get a solid overview in this step.

Third step: Break each month into weekly goals. Every large goal has small portions that must be completed to reach the bigger success. Weight Watchers teaches members to lose weight in 5 pound increments. Why? It's not overwhelming. You celebrate every 5 pounds and that reinforces the desire to repeat the experience emotionally and subconsciously. Weekly goals give you celebrations to reprogram your brain to receive pleasure from your achievement.

Fourth step: Write daily tasks to reach each weekly goal. Any time you work on a goal every day, your success rate soars exponentially. People who fail to reach a goal don't fail because they didn't try. Often they tried but weren't taught how to work on it daily. The most successful people have learned daily discipline. This is where you can really be stunned by the results. This is also where you can easily tweak for changes as necessary.

Fifth step: Learn new mental scripts. People who give up begin negative self-talk. People who succeed recognize a set-back isn't failure and does not warrant personal negative attacks. If you fall off your new eating plan for a meal or even a few days, the way to succeed is to get right back on track on the very next meal. (Yes, it really is the old adage that when the horse throws you, get back in the saddle immediately.) The longer you beat yourself up over a set-back, the easier it is to set that old behavior as your pattern. But you're goal is to create new behavior patterns. It takes new mental scripts. They do take intentional concentration because old scripts sneak in with stealth and expertise. Be vigilant and capture your thoughts. When you consider quitting or feel badly about yourself, rewind the mental tapes. What were you playing in your head?

Candidly, the hard part is the fifth step. This is the reason most New Year resolutions fail within the first few weeks. But recognizing negative thought patterns doesn't mean you are negative. It means you just learned something about yourself that you want to change. Go for it!

Tip: Journaling really helps in recognizing negative thought patterns.

Have you thought through your goals for 2011 in detail or are they just an idea?


  1. Hi Angie:

    This is just amazing! You are doing this completely different than I envisioned! My plan is to have 12 goals, one each month, that are independent of each other. Each goal can be completed in thirty days. Like getting costly and unpleasant dental work done that you have been putting off or changing and updating the way you keep your tax records so doing taxes will ultimately take less time. My reasoning is to give these non-fun jobs the force behind them of a New Year’s Resolution – even though none of them have the gravitas of a stand alone resolution.

    But now, with your suggestions, I think I could also make a one year-long goal with 12 discrete monthly components. I have a 120,000 word, first draft, WIP (four 1” loose-leaf books when printed out) that I dread revising and adding the many layers that I know it needs. When I get writing stressed out, thinking about a job this big, I revert to writing nonfiction which is my ‘native language’.

    I must give your five point plan a try.

    I know this from experience: I have sometimes welcomed the bad feelings that come from falling off the wagon because I knew that the fall meant an end to my suffering and a return to my old but easy irresponsible ways. That’s why getting back on the horse is so hard to do. The fall was actually welcomed: if only subconsciously. This is the rationale for the monthly goals. Just last 30 days!


  2. I still can't believe 2011 is almost here! I'm in denial. LOL So I need to start thinking and planning.

    It's interesting to see the two different ways of thinking about 12 monthly goals (yours and Vince's). But I like both ideas!

  3. Vince, you're the one who made me analyze how I set goals :-) I think that I didn't realize the details until I formalized it by thinking through your 12 goal idea.

    So thank you!