December is the twelfth and final month of the year and comes from the word decem, meaning ten as it was originally the tenth month of the year in the old Roman calendar. Given that it is the last month of the year, I thought this would be a good opportunity to get you ready for next year. It’s a chance to set some goals. These can come in the form of New Year’s resolutions if you like. I hope you achieved those resolutions you set yourself for this year. If not, hopefully the following will assist your chances of success next year.
Choose your goals. So what’s your New Year’s resolution going to be? Write it down so you are clear on what you want to achieve next year. It should be very specific. Vague goals will be difficult to achieve as you will not have a clear idea of what you want to do. ‘Lose weight’ is a typically vague goal. How much exactly do you want to lose? It should also be realistic. Optimistic yes, but don’t over-reach.
You could make your goals fun for a change. You don’t always have to give something up when making a New Year’s resolution. It could be to do more of something, or an opportunity to experience learn something new.
Make sure it is within your capability to achieve your chosen goal. It is okay to start on a smaller goal and then build on this success. This is particularly relevant to exercise goals where it’s easy to want to run before you can power walk. You decide it’s too hard or worse, get injured and give up. Small gains over time lead to great accomplishments.
Don’t try to do too much. It’s very easy to come up with a long list of things you want to change or achieve in a year. The trouble is you may not have the time and energy to do them all and your willpower may just not be up to the challenge. Choose the one thing that’s the most important to you. Once this goal is achieved you can always move on to your next goal.
Set a deadline for your goal, but don’t be afraid to change it if you don’t think you will make it in time. A deadline serves as something to aim for and is not set in stone. If you find you do keep moving the deadline however, can you think of any changes you can make that will help ensure success?
Write down the actual steps you will need to take to fulfil your New Year’s resolution. Is there anything you need to purchase to help you with your goal? You’ve decided to learn to play the saxophone. This will require a saxophone at the very least. Are you going to teach yourself or get lessons? Either way you will need to get hold of some books or teacher. Write it all down, with a realistic guide of when you are going to do each step. ‘Purchase a saxophone’ may seem obvious, but it is these steps that turn our goals from just dreams into reality.
When are you going to start your resolution? It does not have to be January 1st and it may not even be feasible. A resolution to go to the gym from the 1st and then it turns out the gym is shut could be an easy way for you to give up. Set a realistic date that works for you and stick to it. You could even start it sooner if you like. There’s no rule about when to start on a goal.
Be honest with yourself. How is the goal going to fit into your lifestyle and even your personality? You know you are not an early riser so resolving to get up at 5am to go for a run probably won’t work for you. There’s no need to add extra challenges to your resolutions.
Make sure nothing can get in the way of your chosen goal. This could be your own behaviour, your environment or the actions of others. Perhaps you intend to quit smoking. Think about who might want to discourage your attempts because they smoke themselves and are intent on sabotaging your efforts. How will you manage that person?
Keep a record of your progress and include how you felt after each small achievement. Let this be a reminder for you on days when you are tempted to give up.
Imagine how it feels to have accomplished your goal. You may like to draw a picture and then put it someplace safe to get out whenever you need some motivation.
A slip up is not a failure. Instead, use it as a learning opportunity. What can you do differently next time? If you can recognise this it will allow you to resume your goal the very next day.
Finally, list your reasons why this year you are going to accomplish your New Year’s resolution. Brainstorm as many ideas as possible. When you think you cannot come up with anymore, keep going. Look deep within and draw on past successes, your support network, your strengths. Keep this list as a reminder that with all these reasons for success, there’s no need to fail.
To your success!
Every month there is a reason to be happy.