3. Limit resolutions to a manageable amount
A common mistake in resolution setting is having too many and spreading yourself too thin. We all want to learn 25 different languages, 15 new job skills, and eliminate 5 bad habits, but we are not superheroes. We only have so much attention span we can dedicate to self-improvement, so having too many resolutions is a great way not to achieve the many goals you have set out for yourself.
Thus, you should make a short list of resolutions that you can manage in the upcoming year. Knowing that short list of priorities is the hard part. The key here is understanding how to prioritize.
Here is an exercise that you can undertake to help you figure out what is most important in your life. All you need is a post-it pad, a pen, and a wall.
- Write anything you want to accomplish for self-improvement purposes on a post-it
- Each post-it only gets one discreet tactic
- Place each post-it on the wall
- Go crazy – use as many post-its as possible
- Group together similar post-its
- Place the topics you feel strongly about at the top of the wall
- Put the topics you feel “meh” about on the bottom
- Spend a lot of time thinking about the order of the first 3-5 post-it (groups)
As you might suspect, #8 is the most time-consuming, because it will determine what resolutions you are going to take on this year.
The final piece of the puzzle here is knowing your limitations and personal bandwidth. With that in mind, you should focus on your top priorities while balancing how much attention you can honestly devote to a resolution.
Final thought: It’s better to tackle one resolution well than multiple resolutions poorly.
4. Be specific
When it comes to setting resolutions, it’s easy to set bad goals that could lead to poor follow through. Fortunately, SMART goal setting framework can help you craft better goals.
SMART goals are:
- Specific – Articulate the resolution as clearly as possible. For example, quitting smoking is better than being healthy. While “being healthy” is great, the wording can be interpreted in many ways.
- Measurable – Quantify your resolution if possible, i.e. I will lose 10% of my body weight.
- Attainable – Choose a goal within the realm of possibility, but yet challenging. Making 100 friends this year would be amazing, but probably pretty hard to do. On the other, making 10 new friends is doable.
- Relevant – Keep it relevant to your priorities and goals. See motivation section above!
- Time-sensitive – Give yourself a time-frame in which to achieve a goal. A deadline will instill some urgency and provide a time when you can celebrate your success.