Often people like to make New Years Resolutions. They make these goals that they plan on doing in the new year. They go crazy on the goals in the first week or so. Then they start to die off. They get frustrated at the difficulty of the goal. They get very angry at themselves if they feel that they have broken their resolution, especially if they do so earlier rather than later. Then by the end of January, most people have resigned themselves to the fact that they are just not going to succeed.
I don’t want to be one of those people. So, how am I going to be different?
Firstly, I am going to have goals that are easily understood. This is the teacher in me with my special education training taking affect right now. As a teacher I often have to read through student IEPs (Individualized Education Plans) for students with Special Education labels/services. I often see student goals written like “Student will understand the process of editing in their writing.” There are lots of problems with this goal. Firstly, it cannot be measured. Measurement is a HUGE deal. You need measurement. You need data. Without data you have no way of figuring out if there is any form of progress. Secondly, there is no way of knowing whether or not a student can understand something or not in a way that lets you know whether or not this goal has been succeeded at. You need clear and specific goals. A better goal would be that “The student will use the COPS editing strategy in their writing 80% of the time.” This is true even for those who are trying to get into shape. Don’t make a goal like “I’ll get into shape this year.” You have no way of measuring the goal nor is the goal specific enough to know if you have succeeded or not. Make a goal like “I will workout for 20 minutes a day for at least 3 days a week.” Now you have something specific and you know how to measure your data. The specifics is that you will workout for 20 minutes a day. The way to measure your data is looking at the calendar. Check off when you had a workout of at least 20 minutes? How many days did you do each week? This is your data. You have measured your goal. You know it is specific. You have a chance to succeed.
Secondly, make your goal something that is easy to succeed at so that you can reach it relatively quickly. Then when you succeed you can make another slightly harder goal and keep challenging yourself to do better. Take it one step at a time. If I use my workout example, don’t start with working out for an hour every day if you have never done a workout before. Start with 10 minutes every other day. Could you do that for most of January? Awesome! Then in February go to 20 minutes every other day or maybe 10 minutes every day. Make your goals easily attainable to help ensure success.
Tell people about your goals and make sure that they hold you accountable for them. Don’t just post your goals and say this is what you’re going to do. Post your goals and have friends who will drive you nuts if you do not succeed. Maybe you set up a system where you owe someone something if you don’t succeed. Or maybe you just have a system where you must be honest with someone. Have people you trust who can bug you (without destroying your relationship with them) and be honest with them about your progress. If you need to be accountable to someone, chances are good that you will do it just to avoid telling them you failed.
Don’t be hard on yourself. You messed up? Oh well. Tomorrow start new and fresh all over again. Don’t hold a grudge on yourself because you messed up. That’s why most education goals do not say 100% of the time. They say 80% of the time or 85% of the time. It is human nature to mess up. So take that into account. Oh well, you messed up. However, you have been doing so well this whole time. Take a deep breath and go back to your awesome streak tomorrow.
Be prepared to adjust and change. One thing about working in Special Education that I have learned is you need to be willing to change. Every year a team meets to discuss the student’s goals. Has the student been doing well? Awesome. Now it is time to make the goals harder. Has a student been having some trouble with the current goals? Then let’s make them a tad easier. Do that with yourself. Every month or so reassess how you are doing. Did you succeed this past month? Then make it harder. Was it a struggle for you? Then make it easier (or continue it if you feel that you made progress and just need more time). Look at your data and change your goal accordingly. That’s okay. In fact, it is outright beneficial. It makes you critical of your work and gets you looking for strategies to help you succeed since you want the harder goal not the easier one.
Don’t give yourself too many goals. One thing at a time. Too many and you’ll just feel overloaded because it is too much to handle. Take one or two things. Then take each one a step at a time. If you only have a little bit to worry about then it is easier to focus on all of it. If you find you are doing utterly amazing, then maybe add another goal when you reassess yourself. But don’t start with every goal under the sun. You’ll just feel bogged down and you’ll give up quickly.
So, how does that apply to me personally?
Firstly, right now it is Sunday for me. It is the week that I am choosing to start my new years goals since I want to start at the beginning of the week and not mid week. And I want to be going by January 1. So instead of starting on the first full week of the new year, I am starting now. I am starting today. Then I have it started by January 1.
Secondly, my previous post was a work out plan. It is one I thought carefully about. I like it too. But to make that plan my goal would be too much too quickly for me. It would be too intense and would leave me destined for failure. I need to start smaller.
So, my new years goal is to develop a workout habit that I can continue through the entire year. I am starting small. I am starting with whether or not I can follow my workout plan at least 50% of January. I will reassess my workout goal and change it accordingly for February. But for January, if I can follow the workout listed for the day at least 50% of the days in January, then I will be ready to make the goal harder. 50% of 31 days is 15.5 days. Rules of rounding say that a .5 rounds to the nearest 1. So 16 days. If I can succeed in working out with my assigned workout at least 16 of the 31 days in January, then I’m doing alright. I won’t start measuring my data til January first. But I am going to start trying to do this later today (when I wake up, lol). I have told a bunch of people and asked them to hold me accountable.
So, based on what I mentioned above, how is my prediction at how well I will do by the end of the year?
Firstly, my goal is specific and measurable. Specific. I will follow a specific workout plan for at least half of the days in January. You read that and know exactly what I want to do. Measurable. If I do the assigned workout, I check it off on a calendar. How many days are checked off by the end of January? Look. I have data now. I have measured it. Secondly, my goal is easy to succeed at. Only 50% of the time or 16 days. I can easily get that done in just over 2 weeks if I want to. Or I can do every other day. Shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish that. Tell people about the goals. I mentioned it here on my blog in more than one post. I mentioned it on facebook and got a bunch of people who I know will hold me accountable. So I can check that off. I hope I will be able to not be too hard on myself though i can’t guarantee that one. I can however see that I am willing to change it as I want to reassess in February. And it is only one goal so definitely not too many.
My prediction? Chance of success is high. YAY!