The turn of year encourages many of us to make resolutions, those big, grandiose goals meant to improve our lives and make the year ahead the best one yet. Too often, though, resolutions are too difﬁcult to stick with, so we end up abandoning them long before the year is through. This year, why not try something new? Take one or two big resolutions and break them down into manageable, achievable, step-by-step goals that you renew each month. Here's how to get started.
Step 1: Define Your Goal
To begin, think about what you'd like your ﬁnal goal to be--in other words, why are you making this resolution in the ﬁrst place? For example, if you've resolved to make this the year in which you ﬁnally get and stay organized, your goal might be to spend less time dealing with clutter and more time doing the things you actually enjoy, or it might be to decrease the stress of living with piles of stuff around you all the time.
Keeping your goals in mind as well as your resolutions will help you focus not only on the work you need to do to achieve your resolutions, but also on how you'll beneﬁt in the end. Focusing on goals also allows you to see and celebrate the small victories along the way.
Step 2: Make a Realistic Resolution
The next step is to make a realistic and achievable resolution. Aiming for nearly impossible feats might seem like a good way to motivate yourself, but far too often it just sets you up for failure. Instead, choose an overall resolution, and then add details to it to make it achievable for where you are in life right now.
For example, if you've been living with a severely cluttered house for years, resolving to have a home that looks like it's come from the pages of Real Simple may not be a realistic aim. Instead, you might resolve to get the house cleared enough so that you can have people over, can ﬁnd the things you need, and can spend time at home without feeling stressed or anxious. Create a resolution that feels motivating without being overwhelming and you'll be far more likely to stick with it.
Step 3: Go Month by Month
Many New Year's resolutions fall by the wayside a few months after they're made because they seem too big, or because the goal that seemed so promising at the beginning of January starts to look awfully different at the beginning of March. This year, try breaking your resolution down into
monthly chunks; you'll have a different challenge to look forward to every month, and it'll be easier to stick with your goals.
If, for example, you've resolved to get your home ofﬁce under control once and for all, you might start this month by resolving to change the way you deal with new mail that comes in. In February, once you have a good mail-processing system in place, your goal for the month might be to sort
through the papers that have accumulated on your desk, and to keep your desktop clear. In March, start sorting through papers you've stored elsewhere--and on it goes throughout the year, with each month building on the progress you made the month before.
One of the best things about monthly resolutions is that they let you see and celebrate the progress you've made, which is a crucial part of sticking with any change. Be sure to give yourself a big pat on the back for each milestone you achieve throughout the year.
Whatever your resolution, using the three steps above can make it easier to achieve. This year, set yourself up for success by focusing on your goals, making realistic resolutions, and celebrating your monthly achievements. With some effort and dedication, you may just ﬁnd that your
resolutions really stick.