So, I was up last night after everyone else had gone to bed. My thoughts were focusing on what message I wanted the first blog of the year to be. I wanted it to be meaningful for you and not a repetition of the usual New Year’s “resolutions.”
And that got me to thinking about the different meanings of that word – resolutions – and another word, “goals.” They are often used interchangeably and, to an extent, I can see why. But I also think there are important differences between the two terms. Knowing the difference between the two of them and how to use them together is the secret.
The truth is, by itself, I’ve never really liked the word “resolution.” For so many people, it’s laced with unmet, long-term, vague, or sometimes unrealistic goals, e.g. I just decided that I’m going to run a marathon in March and will start training in February. It’s just plain too hard to maintain our motivation under these circumstances. This diminished enthusiasm is probably one of the main reasons research shows that more than 80% of New Year’s resolutions are broken.
When vague, resolutions can look like, “I want to be closer to people.” That’s a truly nice resolution, to focus on but what does being close to people really mean to you? What does being close to people actually look like? How do I you know if you accomplished it? For me, the answer lies in setting goals. Why?
The word “goals” has more of a sense of being a specific target that is realistically achievable within a defined amount of time. A goal requires action! A goal, by definition, requires a conscious intention to do something.
So, if I state my resolution of wanting to be closer to people, then I simply start a list of goals to help me bring my resolution to life. I have a simple two-step recipe:
1. Make a Resolution. Determine what it is that you want, wish, need, or desire in your life. What is your resolve?
2. Target Specific Goals to help you achieve your resolution. Be specific about your intention(s). When possible, give yourself a timeline in which to achieve your short and long-term goals. There’s an old saying:
A goal is a dream with a deadline. – Napoleon Hill
To help you out, here’s an example for my first and most important Resolution for 2018, and my Goals to make it happen.
My Resolution: I Want To Experience More Connection
There is a great amount of research that clearly shows an increased emotional connection with ourselves and with others, can dramatically enhance our mental and physical well-being. A lack of personal and intimate connection will likely lead to a life of isolation and extreme loneliness. In short, we need each other.
For me, there simply is no more powerful experience than to enjoy an emotional connection with people. It is a delightful, warm, and fulfilling experience. And the deeper the connection, the greater the experience of closeness. I naturally want more!
My Goals To Experience More Connection
1. I am going to call a minimum of one person a week who I may not have actually talked to in real life, or in a very long time. Facebook doesn’t count. Neither does Instagram, SnapChat, texting, or an email. This action item is logged into my calendar with two alerts.
2. On each of my weekly phone calls, I am going to express gratitude to each person I talk with. I wrote an entire blog on this. It may not be a big thing to some, but so many people really like to know why we love them. It’s a small thing that can make a huge difference in someone’s life. That always feels good.
3. I am going to invite people on Facebook to have a phone conversation. If I don’t have their phone number, I’ll give them mine in a PM (no sense in putting this out publicly).
To help facilitate this, I am going to go “radio silent” on Facebook for the first week in February. This action is going to prompt me to reach out to even more people.
4. I am going to look over my “A-List” by Saturday, January 6th. My goal is to expand important relationships and specifically focus on people with whom I miss having contact. Intentionally choosing people who genuinely want more connection is my highest priority.
5. I am going to add two more charities to which I donate. I have already picked one and will decide on the second one by the end of this week. You might ask why this is related to wanting to experience more connection? It’s simple; the more I give, the more I feel connected.
6. I’m going to ask each person I talk to, “What specific thing(s) can I do to help support you in your life right now?” I genuinely want to know what they want, need, and desire. Again, this is such a simple thing to do and just asking this question lets people in my life know that I love and care for them. And this automatically leaves us both feeling closer and more connected.
7. And, of course, one very specific thing I can also do to enhance connection, is to follow this specific goal: put down my electronic devices when talking with someone! Have you noticed how often you’re with others on an electronic device? Take a look at that blog post to learn some practical tips proven to help us all be more connected. You may find one or two that you also would like to take on and practice!
I hope that my personal example of a single resolution and the goals to achieve it are helpful. You can apply this simple model to virtually any change you want in your life. Be as specific as you can, be patient, think about the results you want in the short and long-term, and be flexible as life has a habit of throwing an occasional curveball!
This is one of my very favorite things to do with my clients. They frequently tell me that they particularly enjoy this activity when they see what new and exciting things are really possible in their lives! If you would like help with your own resolutions and goals, give me a call and let’s see what we can do to help you achieve them.