Resolution Tip #2 – Get Specific

All right, here we go with the next resolutory piece of advice.  Is resolutory a word?  Probably not.  But as this website will one day be the final word on resolutions, I am going to take some liberties ;-)  The next tip on resolution-making is to get specific.  The more specific your resolution, the more likely you are to follow it.  Conversely, the more general the resolution, the less likely you are to follow it.

If your resolution is to get into shape, what does that mean?  If somebody were to come up to you on February 12th and ask how you are doing on your resolution, you are likely to give that person a blank stare before coming up with some sort of answer.  That’s because the answer in your mind is probably “I don’t know.”  Your answer will likely change based on the mood that you are in.  Some days you feel like you are doing well.  Other days you feel like you’re not doing so well.   Your resolution becomes a moving target.  And so, without a specific destination in mind, it’s easy to lose track of where you are going.

A general resolution also leads to discouragement.  On the days where you are tired or in a bad mood, it becomes very easy to say to yourself that you have not kept up your New Year’s bargain.  That voice says, “Well, looks like you weren’t able to keep that resolution yet again.  Look at you.  Are you in shape?  How many times did you work out in the last week?  You’re not cutting it.  Just give up.”  And what is your reply?  Well, you don’t really have one.  And if you do have one, it is likely to be negative because you are already in that frame of mind.  It’s all subjective.  What does “getting in shape” mean?  In reality you may be doing a terrific job.  But on those negative days, you may be tempted to give it up because on that particular day you felt like you were not living up to your standards.  Some days, getting in shape means losing some weight.  Other days it means looking like an Olympic athlete.

So, what is my advice?  Get specific with your resolutions.  Here are some examples.  Change “I will get in shape this year” to “I will jog for at least 15 minutes three times a week”.  Change “I will be a kind person this year” to “I will compliment one person per week”.  Instead of “I will spend less and save more”, say “I will have a budget in place by March 1st”.  If your resolution is to read more, then make it a goal to have a book read by June 30th.  The above examples are just examples, but they make my point.  Specific resolutions give you something to measure yourself by.  It eliminates doubt and subjectivity.  You are either fulfilling the resolution or you are not.  If you are in fact exercising 3 times a week, the negative voice in your head has nothing to say.  It has no argument.

Conceptual resolutions are fine as long as they have some action steps along with it.  You can have “I will get in shape” as part of your resolution, but then specify how you are going to get in shape.  Set your barometer.

There is probably a bunch of psychological stuff to back up what I’m saying, but to me it’s common sense.  At some point during the year you will be tempted to say to yourself that you are not doing what you said you would do and to give up.  Vague resolutions leave you vulnerable to listening to that voice and following that suggestion.  And so I say, get specific!

My next post may be the most important of my resolution posts and that is to anticipate failure and incorporate that into your resolutions.  So, until next time…..


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