With a new year upon us, many people have declared their New Year's resolutions. What's yours? Perhaps you're fired up about that new diet, or maybe you're convinced that this is the year you'll start and stick to that workout program to get in shape.
Whatever the case, it's an annual ritual people use to set goals and give themselves a new start. Not so for Bill Gates.
In his end-of-year blog post last month, the billionaire Microsoft co-founder wrote:
I've never been a big New Year's resolution person. I don't have any specific goal in mind for 2022.
Let's put that into context. Gates has plenty of goals that drive his ambition, some of which the majority of us will never even fathom attaining in our lifetimes. Yet he doesn't need the turn of the year, every year, to motivate himself. He is powered by his passion and purpose to change the world every day.
So what is about this tradition that we put ourselves through each year, which most of us can't stick to? Why is it so hard to carry through with our stated goals? Gates wrote in his blog about our resistance to change, which makes most resolutions a useless exercise in futility by February. He says, "Whether it's the massive global upheaval of the last two years or transitions closer to home, it's never easy to adjust to new ways of living."
Adjust by creating new routines
One thing about which I completely agree with Gates is that, for people to change, they need to set goals that will help create new routines and new habits. It's not just about the goals but the end result. Despite all the good intentions we all might have, without a direct plan to keep us on track, our resolutions may turn into promises that, once again, fail.
Let's look at the bright side. Let's say you're really, really serious this year, and you honestly want to make a fresh start in some area of life that's been kicking your butt. But where do you start? Well, let's look at how to set, stay with, and accomplish your goals.
1. Have a clear vision
Visualize yourself right now ahead of time accomplishing a personal or professional goal sometime in 2022. What does it look like? To visualize the goal ahead of time helps you to understand what steps you will eventually need to take to meet that goal. For example, if you want to set a goal to spend less and save money, you must understand that there will be things you'll need to stop doing. What are they? Picture this in your mind because only you know yourself and the habits that need to change.
2. Follow through on your vision
Now that you have a vision, you have to create a plan with new habits in place. What are some things you can do to save money? After you have a plan, test it for a month to measure its success. Did you save money? If not, what adjustments need to be made? Spend less on frivolous grocery items? Cancel the gym membership and workout in the garage? It all starts with a vision to see the goal come to pass.
3. Hold yourself accountable
Writing down your goals is important. If you need another layer of accountability, enroll a support system -- a close friend, spouse, partner, or loved one -- to hold you accountable. Share a copy of your written goals with them and give them permission to check in with you on your progress. This helps you to stay focused so you can stay the course, and avoid the complacency that kept you from keeping last year's resolutions.
Everybody loves a good comfort zone. It's cozy there. But that's also the place where life is lived aimlessly. When a person has no goals or direction, then life chooses the direction for him.
Lastly, be sure to reward yourself after you meet a goal. Goals are to motivate you, but you need to reward yourself when you reach them! Don't forget that goals are dreams with a deadline. So, what are you dreaming about this year?