Written by Joanie Wang, Partnership Development Manager – China Region at the JUMP! Foundation
Confession: I used to have major beef with New Year resolutions.
Until this year, I refused to set New Year’s resolutions. My impression of resolutions, the way most people do them, was that they are unproductive, half-hearted, and vague goals that people set because it’s “the thing to do”, but do not really intend to follow through with.
How do you know? No one talks about them past February.
The reality of it is, most New Years resolutions do not become fulfilled because they are just too general, unrealistic, or half-hearted.
This Year, Let’s Try Something New
Inspired by The Power of Habit, as well as some amazing productivity tools JUMP! incorporates into our leadership curriculum, I’ve decided to set some real, concrete resolutions to complete in 2014. These resolutions help set goals with a vision statement, are intentional and well thought-out using the S.M.A.R.T. approach, and reinforced with repetitive, habit-forming steps. With these three key components, you can set goal-oriented resolutions that will not be forgotten when February rolls around.
What Does Success Look Like?
I know this sounds strange, but creating a statement of success for yourself will help you picture what success will look like. That way, you know what to it feels like to meet that resolution. When I first started at JUMP!, I thought it was corny when I was told to visualize my time at JUMP! after finishing the experience, before actually starting the experience. The prompt looked like this:
JUMP! was the most amazing personal and professional experience I have ever had in my life because_____________________.
This prompt help me envision everything I wanted to accomplish at JUMP! on day one. How amazing is that? Looking back on them now, these goals haven’t been changed, but many more have been added to the list.
For everyday use, I use something a little simpler:
Success will be when _________________________.
Take this statement, and list out every single criteria you need to reach in order for your resolution to be successful.
Be S.M.A.R.T About Your Goals
At JUMP!, we believe in doing things with intention. As Steffen mentioned in his post about PVC, your mindset going into an experience helps shape what you’ll get out of it. Translation: if you set your goals purposefully and with intention, you’ll be able to identify the key steps you need to take in order for the goal to be successful.
After identifying what success looks like, measure your progress by forming tangible checkpoints along the way.
In other words, make your resolutions S.M.A.R.T:
Specific – What is my goal? What do I want to achieve? Who is involved? How will I achieve these goals?
Measurable – How will I measure it? What’s my indicator for success?
Action-oriented – What are the specific steps to achieving this goal? What are the check points to measure progress?
Realistic – Am I willing and able to work toward this goal? How can I set myself up to avoid failure?
Timely – What’s my time frame? How will I know when I have accomplished my goal?
Making a Habit Out of It
Commit to your resolution by making it second nature. Need to go to the gym more often? Set a schedule to go at the same time each day so that it becomes habitual. Trying to be healthier? Grab fruit instead of the chip bag. You’ll get to a point where you don’t think about the step as a step anymore, you just do it because it’s ingrained in your daily routine. Habits define how we approach everything in our lives, so the more often you change your mindset with PVC or making a S.M.A.R.T. goal, the more naturally it will come to you.
Mix It All Together
Using these tools together has helped me visualize realistic resolutions for the New Year, and each tool plays a significant role in making a daunting task doable. A vision statement sets your expectations and highlights what you want to get out of the goal while the S.M.A.R.T method allows you to think about your goals concretely by setting checkpoints along the way. Finally, internalizing these goals will make your small tasks habitual, and allow them to easily weave into your day-to-day life.
This year, set productive New Years resolutions in 2014 with a well thought-out plan and make them a reality.