Now that 2015 is underway, those New Year’s resolutions are probably as stale as the fruitcake from last Christmas. According to Forbes Magazine, 40 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions yet only eight percent actually achieve them. Resolutions fall to the wayside pretty fast, too. A University of Scranton study reported 75 percent of people kept their resolutions for one week. By the second week, the percentage had dropped to 71 percent. At the end of one month, 64 percent were still on track but by six months the number of people still keeping their resolutions had fallen to fewer than half – 46 percent.
Now might be a good time to take a different tack and set goals. What’s the difference? A resolution is a statement, a resolve to change something in our lives. Goals are specific, concrete and measurable. In many instances it’s the difference between hoping and wishing for a change and actually taking steps to make that change.
New York Times best-selling financial author, radio host and motivational speaker Dave Ramsey shares guidelines for successful goal-setting.
For starters, he says identify goals in seven areas of your life: physical, intellectual, career, social, financial, family and spiritual. He calls these the seven spokes in the wheel of life, a concept created by Zig Ziglar, international author and motivational speaker. A physical goal might be to lose weight while an intellectual goal could be reading a non-fiction book, for instance.
To assure success, Ramsey identified five steps to take with each goal:
1. Be specific. Instead of saying you want to become healthier, be explicit and say you want to lose weight.
2. Make it measurable. Identify how many pounds you want to lose.
3. Take ownership of your goal. Set the goal because YOU want to lose weight and not because someone else wants you to lose weight. Note to supervisors: This means not dictating goals for those you manage.
4. Establish a time limit. Whether one month or one year, stamp each goal with an end-date.
5. Write them down. Write them down. And, again, write them down!
In the words of Ziglar, “A goal properly set is halfway reached.”