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Jan 01 2016
Accomplishing New Year Goals
DeAnna Leahy, CCE, Sunroc Corporation

It does not seem possible, yet here we are at another new year. For many of us, that means trying to follow through on our New Year's resolutions. We are still trying to put all of the Christmas decorations away and clean up after the holiday parties, and it is time to start thinking about our new diet or exercise plan. 

We all want to become better people. We would like to be stronger and healthier, more skilled and creative. We would like to become a better friend or family member. New Year's resolutions mean trying to do something new on a regular basis, and, if you are like me, it usually doesn't even last a month. One of the main reasons that it does not work is because it takes a long time and a great deal of work to establish a new habit. Human nature wants to find the easy path and it is always much easier to slip back into our old behavior patterns then to stick to the new behavior long enough to make a behavior a habit. However, don't get discouraged! There are some things that you can do to make sure you have the best chance of accomplishing your goals this year.

First of all, set the goal. You will never reach your goal if you don't set it as a goal. Make sure the goals that you set are S.M.A.R.T. goals, which means that they need to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-specific. Don't just be inexplicit by saying, "I will start an exercise program in 2016." It must be a more specific goal such as, "I will walk for 60 minutes, five days a week." It is important to prioritize your goals, and not try to do too much at once. If you attempt making too many changes at the same time, you will most likely fail at all of your goals. Select the one or two specific goals that you want to achieve most, and then put your focus on those.


Second, write your goals down. People who write down their goals are much more likely to achieve them than those that do not write them down. I would suggest putting them somewhere where you will see them every day, like putting a note on the mirror in the bathroom or next to your monitor at work. If you use Outlook for your calendar, you should schedule an appointment for you to accomplish your goal. It does not matter where you write them down, but the important thing is that you make sure it is in writing. Until it becomes a habit, it is easily forgotten or brushed aside. 

Anticipate. What obstacles do you see on the horizon? What obstacles have you run into in the past? When you see something coming up on the horizon that might derail you, plan for it by incorporating it into your plan. An obstacle is just something that we have to get around, or over. It is no reason to quit altogether. 

Don't put it off! As Nike said, "Just Do It!" That might be easier said than done, but the longer you wait, the harder it will be to start. Just start doing it today. As Olin Miller said, "If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it." It is also important to remember that if you are going to try to do more of something, you will have to do less of something else. There are still only 24 hours in the day, so something has to give. Eva Young said that "To think too long about doing a thing, often becomes its undoing." Stop thinking about it - don't delay, just do it. Whenever your motivation, visualize how good it will feel when you accomplish your goal. If you are relying on pure willpower, try to consider how much long term happiness you will get out of it.


Now stick with it. Even if we get inspired and start doing things better, it's tough to stick to new behaviors. It is more likely that this time next year you will be doing the same old thing. It is critical to do whatever you have to do to work toward your goal each and every day to make it a habit. If you do something daily, it will become a habit far more quickly than if you do it just a few times a week. 

Establish accountability by talking to a friend about what you need to do to accomplish your goals, and talk to them about your progress. It is important to feel accountable to someone other than yourself. If you want to accomplish something, surround yourself with people who are working toward that same goal. You can use their achievements as your motivation. 

Get back on track. No one is perfect, all of us fail from time to time. No one is successful all of the time. But instead of letting failure stop us completely, you need to get up, dust yourself off, and learn from the experience. Don't let it ruin your whole goal. If you mess up, don't throw in the towel. Just pick up where you left off and keep trying.

No matter what you want to achieve, you can usually break it down into smaller pieces. Once you start in the right direction, it is easier to keep up the momentum. The dread of doing something difficult can be enough to prevent us from even starting.