My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
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Friday, January 3, 2014

No Luck With Resolutions…Try Goals

On New Year’s Eve while watching the festivities in New York on Fox News there was much talk of New Year’s resolutions. Many on the station were stating their resolutions for 2014. Just from my past experience in work settings I have not observed many who kept their resolutions. This is one reason I stopped doing them. That made me curious about how many actually keep their resolutions. With an online search I found an article in Forbes magazine’s website from 2013 that stated research from the University of Scranton on the subject. They stated that about 40% of us make resolutions. The surprising or not surprising point was that only 8% keep their resolutions.

So if you have already broken your resolution for 2014 don’t feel too bad as you are in the 92% majority. That low number made me think of how can more people stay steadfast on the changes they want to make. The word goal came into my mind. First just looking at the word resolution Merriam Webster online defines it this way -- something that is resolved (to make a definite serious decision to do something). Now the definition for the word goal -- is something that you are trying to do or achieve. Both words seem very similar.

Let’s go back to the low success rate with resolutions. Even though the definitions are similar if you think about it how much thought goes into most New Year’s Resolutions? Generally they are done off the cuff at parties. So there is a quickly stated emotional aspect to them. Also in many cases they are stated after the person has had a few alcoholic drinks so he definitely has not thought through the resolution. So this could be reasons that resolutions go by the wayside so quickly.

What about goals? In the book A Life Worth Living edited by Mihaly & Isabella Csikszentmihalyi there is an essay, "What Works Makes You Happy: The Role of Personal Goals in Life-Span Development". The authors state that goals help in satisfying motivational needs. They show in the article from research how goals aid people in having a satisfying life. Here is what some of the research shows on the effectiveness of goals:

Those with goals related to their needs report well-being.
• Those who have a disciplined commitment to their goals have higher life satisfaction.
• Those who see progress in reaching their goals have less stress and higher life satisfaction.
• Those who create realistic and feasible goals have more life satisfaction. (p186)

These are just a few of the positive aspects of creating and following goals. So maybe it is better to think through goals for the year instead of spouting off a quick resolution at a party.

Usually at the end of each year I take some time to think through and formulate new goals for the new year. One point that is seen in the statements from the research is make the goals realistic and feasible. You want to go for big things in life but if they are too undoable that just brings discouragement. So along with goal statements you need to think through a few panning steps of commitment to reach your goal. I believe it helps to write your goal and the planning steps down as well. This helps to solidify in your mind what you want to achieve. Also if it is written down you can you can post it somewhere as a reminder to help keep your commitment level high. That is another aspect to failed resolutions they are just spoken at the party and forgotten quickly. Often they are remembered only after noticing you gained 10 pounds instead of losing the 10 pounds.

So if you have already failed your New Year’s resolution don’t worry over it. Instead take some time and write out a clear concise concrete goal to accomplish. Jot down a few action steps to be committed to in helping you reach the goal. Then post it somewhere where you will regularly notice your goal to keep it in remembrance.

Reflection: What do you want to accomplish in your life in 2014 to keep Living More Than OK? Write down a goal for the year along with relevant action steps. Then place it where it will be noticed as a reminder.

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