I love a new beginning. A fresh start. A New Year. With it comes a sense of spiritual cleansing; “the old is gone, the new has come.” But every New Year, I fight the challenge of “how is this year going to be different than last year?”
Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Here are a few I came across recently from children:
“My new year’s resolution is to not eat as much sugar. But I probably won’t keep it” (Joey, age 10). “I am going to stop picking my nose. It is going to be hard” (Hadssah, age 7). “My resolution is to stop biting my nails because my mom says she is going to make me wear nail polish that tastes like ROTTEN EGGS if I don’t” (Kate, age 8). “So?!!! What is the point of making resolutions if you never really keep them?” (Love, Kendra, age 6).
Kendra has got it right. Most studies show that 80% of all people who make New Year’s Resolutions break them within the first thirty days. How about you? Have you sat down and made your list of resolutions knowing full well that you probably won’t keep them?
What if this year you add some teeth to your bite? Why not go one step further from making a resolution to developing a plan? Here’s a tried but true template that can help you set goals, develop a plan, and follow through. I use this on a personal level, and the staff I help lead do the same. This is called, ‘The 4 Disciplines of Execution’ which comes from a book with that title written by McChesney and Covey.
- Develop your W.I.G.s. These are your wildly important goals. One of the mistakes many people make is that they set too many goals, and thus get confused, frustrated, and give up. Less is more. Simple leads to greater growth. Set two to three goals, and make sure they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely (S.M.A.R.T.). A good W.I.G. should state, “I will go from x to y by z date.” For example, I will go from 175 pounds to 160 pounds by December 31, 2019.
- Act on the Lead Measures. This is where you develop a plan. W.I.G.s are the outcomes, whereas Lead Measures are the inputs. What can you do to move you toward the accomplishment of your W.I.G.s? Using the weight loss analogy, one lead measure would be to exercise thirty minutes five times per week where you get your heart rate up to a target rate of 50-85% of 220 beats per minute. Lead Measures are activities you can control which will help you accomplish your primary goals.
- Keep a compelling scorecard. Many people fail to reach their goal because they don’t know how far along they are in the process. Keeping track helps you keep motivated, and it helps you measure your progress. Keep a chart. Have a scorecard on your smartphone. Whatever method you use, enter the data on a weekly (if not daily) basis, so you can see where you’ve been, where you are, and how much more you have to go.
- Create accountability. Ask a friend or talk with your spouse about holding you accountable. Give them a WEEKLY update on your progress. If you don’t report in, you won’t keep up. This is why Weight Watchers has been so successful. They require participants to go to a weekly “weigh-in” to chart progress.
As the old adage goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Don’t make the same mistakes in 2019 that you (and I) have made in past years. Don’t just make a resolution to stop smoking or lose weight or grow spiritually. Develop a specific plan and stick to it with good accountability. And one year from now, you will be amazed at the progress you’ve made.
“The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8, NLT).