A bird does not sing because it has an answer.  It sings because it has a song.

05 January 2009

Resolution vs. Strategy

It's that time of year again - when many of us make a "New Year's Resolution."  I bet you've done it at least once.  And it's hugely compelling on January 1.  This is the year!  This is the year I... (quit smoking, lose weight, go back to school, get a better job, clean out the garage, read War and Peace, join the gym and work out every single day).

And to be fair, some people succeed in fulfilling these grand dreams.  But the gym usually empties out by mid-February, and by November you can hear crickets chirping in the Weight Watchers meeting (I know. I'm a lifetime member and I've worked for Weight Watchers).  Of course, every January it's another new invasion of the resolutionary army.

So what's the difference between the ones who make it happen and the ones who don't?  Goal planning.  Not just goal setting, because it's as easy to "set a goal" as it is to say "this is the year."  If you want to achieve the goal, you need a strategy.

If you have a New Year's resolution this year, may I suggest you improve your odds by taking a few simple steps right now, while it's fresh in your mind?

Step One: apply the WAY-SMART goal test to your resolution.  Is it:
Written down?  It's amazing what power there can be in simply making the commitment in writing.
Aligned with your purpose?  How does this goal fit into your broader life aspirations?  Why is it important to you?
Yours?  As in, a goal that has meaning for you, rather than a passing fad or someone else's definition of what's right for your?
Specific?  How will you know you have achieved it?
Measurable?  Is there some quantifiable way to define the desired result?
Attainable?  Is it appropriate for you in light of the life you have now?
Realistically high?  Not too easy, but still manageable among your other commitments?
Time-based?  Have you set a date on which you will evaluate and decide if you have succeeded?

If your resolution passes this test, you're already well on your way to success. 

Step Two:  Decide on the immediate next action that will get you closer to your goal, and do it today.  A year flies by as life's adventures come at you thick and fast, and before you know it, the "last minute" will be here.  Don't wait until then -- as Stephen Covey says, "you can't cram on a farm."  Decide, each day, what action you must take today to get closer to your goal, and take that action.  If you do this every day, and the goal is clearly enough defined that you take the right steps, your success is virtually guaranteed.

Over the next couple of weeks, watch for more ideas on how to create a winning strategy for achieving your 2009 goals.

Happy New Year!

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