In a recent New York Times article, it was reported that four out of five people who make New Year’s resolutions will eventually break them. In fact a third won’t even make it until the end of January!

Yikes!  If you are like us – this probably sounds hauntingly familiar.  But why does it always seem to work out that way?

What kind of resolutions lead to this result?

When the Franklin Covey management firm polled more than 15, 000 customers about their planned New Year’s resolutions – the ones at the top of this list included  – get out of debt; save more money lose weight; and start exercising.    (Yikes again!  These have all surely topped our lists in any given year!)

So, if resolutions…and the things we say we want to do…are so common – why are we so unlikely to keep them?

The Covey survey reported that nearly 40% say they simply have too many other things going on in their lives.  33% say they simply aren’t all that committed to making it really happen. Yet, many experts say the real problem is that people make the wrong resolutions.  The typical resolution often reflects a ‘general desire’ rather than a ‘real goal.’

So this year…rather than setting some broad – pie in the sky – resolution that has little or no chance of succeeding…let us share what we’ve learned that has helped us succeed in setting attainable goals that really can be achieved.

Want 2012 to be better?  Want 2012 to  be the year you finally reach goals that have been on your list forever?  If so, read on…

The key is something we learned back in our college business management courses – but somehow – it took years  before we actually began to put it into practice in a consistent and intentional way.

So here’s  3 Secrets for Successful Goal Attainment :

Secret # 1 –  Whenever you set goals – be sure they are SMART Goals.

S – specific – rather than simply saying, “I want to loose weight” – you would set the goal of achieving a healthy weight for your height and body type as well as establishing healthier eating habits.

M – measurable – you would then establish a way to measure your success by to narrowing your goal down to the result you are wanting to attain, for example: to go from your current weight of 150 pounds to your desired weight of 128 pounds and then consistently maintain that weight within a pound or two.

A – attainable – this is where you do a” reasonableness check”.  Make sure your goals are actually attainable.  If you haven’t seen 128 pounds since you were 12 years old, maybe looking at 135 as your phase 1 goal would not only seem more attainable, but would allow you to realistically reach success and then give you the confidence you need to set a phase 2 goal of 128 pounds.

R – relevant – this one is key.  This is where you ask yourself the question, “how important is this to me? – am I willing to do whatever it takes to make this goal happen in my life?”    If you simply say, “I’d  like to do this” – odds are – it won’t happen.  If you make a conscious decision that this goal is REALLY important…if you can genuinely say , “I am determined!”…your odds for success will improve exponentially!

T – time sensitive – you must put a date for achieving your goal.  Better yet, break it down into bite size pieces by saying I will loose 1 pound per week and be at my goal by a specific date.  This eliminates the wiggle room of getting around to it later…and gives you little victories along the way.

Secret #2 – Limit your resolutions and make improvements that will last!

If you make too many resolutions…or set too many new goals…you won’t have enough time, energy or focus to actually make them all happen at once. And you surely won’t be able to make them last.

Take one big goal at a time.  Select the one that means the very most to you, start with it, and be well on your way to success before starting another big goal.

Setting goals and achieving them normally requires change that then must be integrated into your life.  To continue with our example of loosing weight – if you focus on all that it takes to get that done, it may include adding exercise, a new way of shopping and cooking, as well as altering your eating habits and patterns.  Rather than simply loosing the weight – only to gain it all back – you need to give full concentration not only to what is required to achieve your goal – but what is required to make permanent change in your lifestyle.  It is no longer just about a diet but how to have successfully adopted a healthy-eating, weight maintenance lifestyle.

Secret #3 – Don’t let a mis-step turn into failure!

First – you must decide that failure is not an option.

Second, if you find you aren’t reaching your goals or you have fallen away from what it takes to get it done, refer to number 1 above and then… it’s like the old adage…’when you get knocked off a horse…get right back up and start riding again’.

Don’t wallow in condemnation.  Learn from what has happened, recommit to your SMART goals, determine what it is going to take to get back on track and just go back at it.  No harm not foul.  Just get going again!

But – if you find this ‘just get going’ mantra isn’t working for you, it may be time to think about getting someone to come along side you and be an accountability partner. You may want to consider a life coach who specializes in goal setting and attainment.  Sometimes we just aren’t able to go it alone when we are making big changes in life.  Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

And…as a believer in Jesus Christ, we would say, first and foremost – PRAY!  God can do what we cannot.  He’s our strength when we have none to go on.  He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.  (Deuteronomy 31:8)

So, don’t wait!  Employ these 3 Secrets and you will be amazed by the results.

You really can make 2012 your best year ever.  This can be the year you take those things you’ve always wanted to do  – begin knocking them off the list – and start looking to the future with a brand new sense of confidence, freedom and an assurance that the goals you set can definitely be achieved!

Happy New Year and May God Bless!

Now, please take a moment post your goals right here on our blog.  Let us help you stay accountable and celebrate you success.  Be sure to stay in touch with us.  We want to hear your story!

Tom and Pam