Monday, January 5, 2009

It's that time of year...

...where resolutions are made, only to be broken within a matter of weeks, if not days, or even hours. For any who wish their resolutions to stick, here are some suggestions for increased stickability:

  1. Make sure it is attainable
  2. Design it so it is measurable
  3. Set a realistic plan for achieving it
  4. Be accountable to someone for it

1. I might be able to realistically set a goal to put on 10 pounds of muscle in the next 6-8 months, but I know me, and if I were instead to set a goal to put on 25 pounds of muscle any time this year, that wouldn't be realistic.

2. I could set a "goal" to be nicer, but that wouldn't be measurable, and thus not really much of a goal. I'd have to design it such that my niceness is measurable, so that I could keep track of my progress. If my ultimate aim was to be nicer, I'd have to set goals of hugs given per day, or count the number of fist fights I get into each day (to find a baseline) and then reduce that as time goes by.

3. Part of this includes not setting too many goals all at once, because too many might very well be unrealistic to plan for. Make sure any goals you do set can be realistically worked in to the available time of each day, week, and month. In many cases, setting a goal will require cutting some other activity in order to make time for achieving your goal. If I want to read the complete works of J.R.R Tolkein this year, I have to plan time for which to do it, which will require that I choose what other activity I am going to cut out to allow me time for my reading. Some goals are complex, and will require a succession of steps to attain it, all which have to be planned out, with enough flexibility in your expectations to allow for setbacks or stalls or changes in your plans.

4. If you're married, discuss with your spouse what goal or goals you have, and have a daily or weekly accounting with him or her. If you're single, discuss with your parents (whether you live at home or not) your goal or goals, and have a daily or weekly accounting with them. Be sure the person who you choose to be accountable to has a genuine interest in your attaining the goal, or this step won't be much of a motivator to continue to work on the goal, but instead could actually be demotivating. If the goal isn't directly important to your "accounter," then explain how important it is to you, and why, and he or she may then be able to understand the importance to you and therefore have a desire to help encourage you to achieve your goal.

Honestly, these are pretty theoretical for me, but others have had success by implementing these (and often times other) principles in their goal setting.

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