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January is that magical month that people hold in high regard as the window in which they will change their bad habits and reach for the things they hope to accomplish this year. Here’s the problem – there is a distinct difference between making a resolution and achieving a goal. A resolution is a goal, sure, but it lacks the path to achieve the results set forth. If you have the goal to “lose weight,” you have not set a goal. A goal would be “I want to lose 20 lbs”. This has an end point. Also now you can look at this goal and decide the best way to achieve this. You set monthly, weekly, and daily objectives to help you hit that 20 lb mark. Now if you stay with the resolution to “lose weight,” but don’t set it into a goal, how will you know you are doing well, how do you know when you’ve reached a level you’re satisfied with? This is why many resolutions fade away and don’t make it past February.

So here is a list of the steps you can take to turn your resolution into a goal and make it a reality:

  1. Filter out which resolutions are the most important. Too many will only derail you. Prioritize and focus on the most important first.
  2. Decide how to turn the resolution into a goal. This can be done by applying a number to the goal, and or an end-date. For example if you want to quit smoking, and you say you want to be done with it in 3 months – you now have a finish line.
  3. Be realistic with you numbers and timelines.
  4. Decide the course of action to get you there the quickest and most effective way. If I want to lose 20 pounds, maybe I start with trying to do 30 minutes of cardio 3 days a week for a month, then bump it up to an hour or add additional days.
  5. Set mini-goals within the long term plan. For example, I want to have lost 5 pounds by X date.
  6. If you hit your mini goals reward yourself with something that will not deter you from your goals. If you want to lose weight then celebrating a mini goal achievement with ice cream is probably a bad idea. Maybe a new pair of shoes would be better.
  7. Punish yourself if you don’t hit you mini goal. This could be done with additional exercise or denial of something you had your eye on at the store.
  8. Do not let a set back deter you! If you find yourself missing your mini goals or being set back by work, do not simply scrap the goal, readjust or recommit or both. Now this isn’t to say that you can simply extend the date anytime you wish, because then you will be working on the same goal for years. This is to say if a major setback occurs, reassess and move forward.

Hopefully you’ve found these tips to be helpful and you will be able take the resolutions you had on January 1 and make them a reality in 2014!