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Tools for Accomplishing Your New Year’s Resolutions

By Tricia Andor, Licensed Professional Counselor

The Top Ten Resolutions for 2010, as noted by Seth Godin, are:

1. Stop smoking
2. Get Fit
3. Lose Weight
4. Enjoy Life More
5. Quit Drinking
6. Get Organized
7. Learn Something New
8. Get Out of Debt
9. Spend more time with the Family
10. Help Others

Whether you share these 2010 goals or have different entries on your list, half of the battle to accomplishing goals lies in the approach you use (and the other half is in following through! J).

One of the most immediate, easy to remember, easy to implement approaches I like is the SMART goal approach – making goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound.

Specific – For instance, a stated goal of “I want to lose weight” is not specific. A better, more specific goal would be, “I want to lose three pounds within one month.”

Measurable – You want to be able to know if you have or haven’t actually achieved your goal, and making it measurable will help you do exactly that. Rather than an “I want to enjoy life more” goal, make it measurable with something like “I want to (visit one museum, go to one sporting event, invite guests to my home, write one thank you note) once a month.” You will clearly know if and when you’ve attained your goal.

Achievable – Keep it reasonable and achievable. “I’m going to spend every hour of this weekend doing high-energy, fun activities with my kids” is not-so-realistic for most parents who have to grocery shop, cook, clean, do yardwork and fix cars on weekends. Losing twenty pounds in one month – mmm…not so realistic either. Doing two or three fun activities with you kids over the weekend is more achievable, as is losing five pounds in a month.

Realistic – Make your goal realistic. It’s great to dream big, just be sure that you don’t set yourself up for failure. Writing a novel this year when you don’t currently write at all and have never enjoyed writing may not be the most realistic goal. Being realistic entails doing an honest self-appraisal – do you have the time, talent and commitment to achieve the goal?

Time-bound – Put your goals in a time frame. It will help give you a sense of urgency, and will help you take the action needed to accomplish the goal. For example, “I’m going to learn how to take still life pictures on my camera by December 31st.” Your goal can then be broken down further into smaller time-bound goals (I’ll read the instructions to my camera by Jan. 31st, I will have completed the Photography class at the community college by March 31st, etc.).

Take a moment right now and run one of your New Year’s resolutions through the SMART list. Make the adjustments needed, and start the new year off already having won the first half of the battle to accomplish your goals.