How to Set Bullet-Proof New Year’s Resolutions

Isn’t it early to be thinking about New Year’s resolutions? Yes, if your M.O. is to flake out like most people. But if you really want to bullet-proof your New Year’s resolutions, begin today with my five-step process.

1. Take an inventory or your successes and setbacks in 2006

Don’t squander the lessons of the past year. Ask yourself what worked and what didn’t, and then ask yourself why. These lessons will help you avoid repeating past mistakes, and will reveal successful strategies that you can apply to your new goals.

2. Start with the big picture

Many times we set goals without any sense of context. Maybe you want to get in shape for the summer. Great. Why? How will getting in shape by summer serve you three years from now, ten years from now, twenty years from now? Try turning the paradigm on its head and start by asking yourself, “What do I want to accomplish in three years? In ten years? In twenty years?” Then, when you have a clear idea of what the big picture looks like, ask yourself, “What must I accomplish in the next year for me to achieve my longer-term goals?”

3. Clarify and commit

Get as specific as you can when you describe your goals and the results that you want. How will you measure your progress? Are there interim steps? What is the interim timetable? Are your goals achievable given your resources, or do you need additional information or partners? Why do you want to achieve these goals? What specific results are you looking for? Once you have clarified your goals, share them with at least one person you respect who holds you to a very high standard, and make a commitment to yourself and to them that you will follow through.

4. Plan to act, and plan to persist

Map out a detailed four-week plan. Describe specifically what you need to do each day. This plan will help get you through that tenuous first month. Promise yourself that you will persist until you achieve the results you want no matter what obstacles you encounter. Create contingency plans for obstacles that you can anticipate. And reconcile yourself to the idea that there will be obstacles you can’t anticipate. For those inevitable unknown obstacles, cultivate a deep feeling of faith in your ability to bounce back and push forward. Look to the past for examples of how you persisted at times when it seemed impossible or hopeless.

5. Start immediately

Yes, right now. Get a jumpstart by taking action now so that you hit the ground running and start the new year with some momentum. January 1 is as arbitrary as any other date. Why delay when you can begin now?

©2005 Curtis G. Schmitt

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