Achieving New Year Resolutions

Most of us make new year resolutions, and most of us abandon them by the end of March. I’m no different. I see the turning of the year as a good time for reflection and course correction, and as a part  of that thinking, I usually end up making a few resolutions for the New Year. And like most of us, I go through the mild (sometimes not so mild!) frustration and helplessness of looking at unfulfilled resolutions at the end of the year !

But 2014 was different. In 2014, I made eight (!) new year resolutions, and I’m proud to say, that I’m ending the year with four completely achieved, three somewhat achieved, and only one not achieved. What was different? 

First of all, I formalised the process of making the resolutions- I actually put pen to paper, and  enunciated each resolution. My format was simple- for each resolution, I put down what I wanted to achieve (what), how I would achieve it (how), and when I would achieve it (when); for the behavioural change resolutions, instead of a definite achievement date, I put down when I would review (e.g. quarterly feedback). Looking back, I think the process of thinking things through in this way forces us to address the resolution in a more thoughtful way- frivolous resolutions get thrown out, and those that you keep are meaningful and impactful. Also enunciating the ‘how’ forces you to think of the actual steps you will take- even those couple of broad-brush actions move the resolution from a dream to an achievable goal. And the when puts a definite time to it- and sets a certain accountability within yourself.

The second thing I did, was to put the what the how and the when into a simple table, which I took a printout of, and put into my wallet. What this did was to force me to look at my resolutions every now and then- whenever I emptied my wallet of receipts and fuel bills, this piece of paper with my resolutions would pop out, and I would get a chance to re-look at (and remember!) my resolutions. This was a powerful way of ensuring that in the melee of everyday living I did not forget my resolutions- something that was a major source of not achieving them in previous years.

Frequently being in touch with my goals, and having given myself a route to achieving them, I found them making their way into my to do lists, and now here I am with the most number of new year resolutions I’ve achieved ever! Looking back, I could have done one more thing to ensure even more achievement-I could have made a commitment to achievement to someone significant- in my case my family. I don’t do that this year, but I plan to do that for 2015.

So here I am at the end of 2014, quite pleased with the way the year has gone. I’ve managed to get a fair chunk of my resolutions done, I’m on my way to achieving most of the others. I’m going to get my 2015 resolutions sorted by the end of December, and just to reiterate, here’s what I’m going to do:

  • think of the things I want to change or achieve- in myself and in my work, and pick the things I want to work on
  • put down the one or two steps that are going to get me to my goal
  • put down a definite target date, or for ongoing things a review time and mechanism
  • put all of this down in a table, and put a printout of this in my wallet
  • share this with my family so that they can hold me accountable (this will be a new step this year)

And having done this, by this time next year, I hope to be able to feel similarly proud of myself, and to be able to report to you similar success in keeping my new year resolutions. And at this time, I’d like to invite you to also follow this process of turning your resolutions into reality- it’s really a very satisfying way of ending a year ! And do let me know how you get along- maybe together we can figure out an even better way for 2016!

Have a wonderful year ahead, and may you fulfil all your resolutions and achieve all your goals !