Have you accomplished your New Year’s resolutions on a regular basis? Or, do you find yourself making the same New Year’s resolutions the next year because your ambition for reaching the resolution you set the previous year fizzled out in March or April? Do wait until the next January to start again? If the above sounds like you, then the way you have been doing it is not working and maybe you need to tackle things differently.
Each New Year’s Day everyone gets revved up and ambitiously makes a series of resolutions that they want to accomplish to make their life better: lose weight, get more organized, exercise more, stop spending so much time at work so that you can spend more time with your family, make more money, and the list goes on and on.
A great thing about each New Year is that it always provides a fresh beginning. However, wouldn’t it be more fun if you could reflect on resolutions (or goals) that you accomplished rather than making the same resolutions again year after year?
The problem with making New Year’s resolutions only on New Year’s Day is if you fizzle out on working toward achieving your resolutions, you probably wait until the next New Year’s Day to start again. The problem with that is if you wait until the next New Year’s Day to begin your goal gain, more often than not, you will lose your motivation.
Another problem with that is that if you wait until the following New Year’s Day to re-set your resolutions is it keeps you in a “waiting mode” and only looking forward to the next time that you will reset your resolutions, rather than living in the present and enjoying everything that happens every day. Every single person will only pass this way one time. There will be no rewind or redoing anything. Therefore, it is really important that we each enjoy everything that happens every day. Please see my article titled: “It Is the Journey”.
Let me suggest a new plan of action to help you successfully realize your New Year’s resolutions beginning with this New Year’s Day with 6 steps. However, note that only this first resolution will be connected to New Year’s Day. When you complete the task, immediately decide on the next goal that you will work toward achieving, lay out the steps that will be needed to achieve the tasks with due dates or deadline dates, and remember to include rewards.
- Most important is to spend a few minutes reflecting on what you did accomplish this past year.
- Choose just one resolution that you want to tackle this year; however, let me replace the word “resolution” with the word “goal”. Most people know that in order to accomplish a goal they need to create a series of smaller steps that lead to successfully completing the final goal. For some reason, people seem to think that a “resolution” just happens with minimal amount of work.
- If there are several things that you want to accomplish, put them in priority order and tackle the goal that is the highest priority to you. When you achieve that, you can work on the next goal that is on your priority list.
- When you decide on the goal, spend a few minutes breaking it into smaller tasks, or stepping stones, with dates that you expect to complete the one task. Be realistic with the deadlines for this one step. Your goal is to actually complete this resolution rather than trying to complete it in record time.
- Set a task reminder for each of the steps that you will complete in order to realize your overall resolution. In my own case, I set up a task reminder in MS Outlook with all of the steps included in the body of the task reminder with the date I expect to finish the first step. When I complete that step, I reset the date to complete the next task and re-save it.
- For each step that you set for yourself to realize your goal (or resolution), be sure to also set up a reward. If the step takes minimal amount of work on your part, the reward should be a really small one. If the step takes more effort, make the reward a slightly bigger reward.
One GOLDEN RULE for this
If you do not complete the task (and have to re-do it), you do not get the reward! You will find that by being fair with yourself, it generates motivation. With each reward that you actually earn, the momentum builds so that you want to achieve the next reward.
You may find yourself working to complete a goal only because you want to receive the reward. My point in including a series of rewards is to make completing the steps more palatable so that you look forward to completing each step, all the way to completing your goal (or resolution). Even if you work toward achieving each of the steps to get the rewards, is that so bad? Our lives are filled with so much stress and issues and challenges so that earning a bunch of rewards is like a breath of fresh air.
What If You Miss a Target Date to Complete a Task?
Immediately re-set the target date. Do not wait until January 1st of the next year. Take a hard look at what caused me to miss the target date, adjust to correct that/those issue(s), make positive changes immediately, and pick up where I left off.
If you are interested, below is an example of a goal with the tasks that I set up in order to reach one of my goals. By the way, I did successfully achieve the goal and I am now eating much healthier meals that taste great and I have cut my food budget by 62 percent!!!
Keep in mind that it takes much longer to explain how to complete the task than simply to do it. Therefore, do not let the length of these steps concern you.
GOAL / RESOLUTION: Find Ways to Cut My Food Budget while Eating Healthy Meals. This was a huge undertaking and actually took me two years to complete because the steps I needed to take to accomplish this task were very involved. I have a full time job and could only work on this task after work a couple nights each week. Currently, in October of each year, I set up the next year’s menu by copying the current year’s menu, changing some of the recipes to be more diabetic-friendly (I was not diabetic when I started this task), updating the days of the week and shifting the movable holidays such as Chinese New Year.
- Create an AWARENESS BOARD and put the board where I will see it EVERY DAY
- Put the title of the goal at the top in colorful letters
- List each step to be completed along with the reward that I will get when I complete it
- Find pictures in magazines, online, in flyers, and other areas to illustrate my overall goal (what will I do with the extra money? What will I look like when I eat healthier? etc)
No reward because the awareness board was my reward
- Weigh myself / research how many calories I need to eat each day in order to maintain the same weight that I am right now / set up a system where I can track my calories each day (example: SparkPeople)
- Add one photo to my awareness board so that I continue looking at the awareness board
- Set up a menu to follow that will keep the calories I eat every day in check. I provide an example of a menu that I use in my website along with how I arrived at the menu and tips to keep it exciting and interesting. Below is just the menu. Keep in mind that I have used a menu for many years and it took a long time for me to get to this point. My goal in creating the menu at the time was to find ways to spend less money. Since food is the 3rd largest budget item, this menu was one of the tasks that I set for the goal of spending less money. You can see all of the different goals that I used to create an overall 10-Step Supermarket Combination Technique. By using ingredients for a variety of menus and intentionally making dinner so I could have leftovers to use for lunch, I was able to reduce the amount of money that I spent on food by 42 percent!
- This same type of menu could be used by finding recipes that total the calories that need to be your daily limit in order to lose weight.
- In my own case, I am dyslexic and therefore, things come to life for me when I think in pictures and I love colors. Hence the reason for the clipart and colorful text such as “LEFTOVERS” built into each week of my monthly menu. My little tricks made me want to check out my menu on a regular basis. I also tape the menu to my Kitchen cupboard right next to my fridge and I refer to it constantly.
- Add one photo to my awareness board so that I continue looking at the awareness board
- Learn about the sales cycles at the supermarkets that I shopped
Too small a task to permit a reward
- Learn about farmers’ markets. Why is it that so many people say that farmers’ markets are much cheaper and other people say they are more expensive? I researched and the difference is that there are two types of farmers’ markets: Public Markets and Street Markets,
- Add one photo to my awareness board so that the awareness board continues to capture my attention. The photo I used (on the right) was one I took while on vacation in Hawaii. We always check out local STREET MARKETS whenever we travel and get fruits and veggies to use as breakfasts and snacks, which helps us to reduce the cost of food. Additionally, it increases our awareness of the regional foods in the areas where we travel.
My reward was to buy something different at each of the farmers markets that we found when the prices were significantly less than what I paid at the supermarket
- Find recipes that my family and I like that are healthy and build those recipes into my menu. In fact, I even added a hyperlink to the recipe name that was embedded into my menu to make it easy for me to find the recipes that I have saved to my computer so I can easily list the ingredients.
- Compare prices of the different stores where I shop to get the best prices. I created a Price Book. Along the left side I listed all of the ingredients I used normally and highlighted those items for the menus I would use over the next 2 weeks (I have been doing this long enough that I now am able to shop only once/month and save even more money on my food budget). Once set up, this task only takes me about 15 minutes once a month to update and I instantly see the supermarket that offers the food items at the cheapest prices.
- Enter the amounts I spent at the various stores into my budget for each month and compare to the previous month’s budget to ensure that I spent less. If not, find places to make adjustments to reduce prices and delay the award for another month so I can compare again to ensure that I saved money (I now do my grocery shopping once/month and only stop at farmers’ markets and supermarkets to pick up items that I ran out of.
- Next October, set up the next year’s menu, making the adjustments above to ensure that I keep spending less on my budget.
Did you find this information useful? If so, please leave a comment to let me know how it helped you. If not, please let me know what I can add to make this a better article.
- 10-Step Supermarket Combination Technique
- Be Quiet
- Why Making Memories is Important (Making Time Count)