Two Keys to Setting New Year’s Resolutions You’ll Actually Achieve

You on January 1st

“No really, this is the year I am getting into shape. I have purchased my treadmill, I have a pantry full of Gatorade, and I’ve downloaded an app on my phone to track my progress. I’m on fire (pronounced fiyaaa).”

Your Craig’s List ad on January 18th

“Gently used treadmill for sale (seriously, almost brand-new). Doubles as a clothes hanger – trust me I know. I will throw in a case of Gatorade at no extra charge.”

To quote Ned Ryerson from the 90’s movie Groundhogs Day, “Am I right or am right? Or am I right? Right? Right? Right?”

There is an 8% Chance That I’m Wrong

Okay, so I really hope that treadmill ad on Craig’s List isn’t yours. And I hope you’re still on track with your goals come February 1st. However, the odds aren’t in your favor. According to a Forbes article, only 8% of people actually reach those New Year’s goals they set. We get a slightly more optimistic estimate from a 2015 US News article which claims that only 80% of New Year’s resolutions end in failure. But even with that generous statistic, a 20% success rate means a lot of treadmill ads on Craig’s List and too many failed goals. “Am I right?”…okay enough of that.

What You Already Know

You’ve likely heard great advice in the past about effectively setting goals. One of my favorite ideas is that of SMART goals – setting specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and time-related goals. This is sound advice!

However, I want to share two other critical factors necessary to achieving meaningful goals.

What You May Not Know

Sometimes we just don’t care enough about achieving the goals that we set.  If your goal was to lose weight in 2017 and yet by noon on the 1st you had already eaten 2 maple bars, an apple fritter, and a Bear claw, it would be a fair to ask how much you really wanted to lose weight. Similarly, if 10 days into the year you have a hard time remembering what your goals even were (I’ve been there), it is probably safe to assume that your heart wasn’t really in it.

In order for us to effectively reach our goals, we have to have passion for those goals. When we set a goal half-heartedly, we probably won’t have the drive needed to actually make it to the finish line.

But passion alone won’t get us there either. It seems that most people who set goals really do want to change and improve. But, passion or not, we often give up on our goals when life gets busy or when unexpected obstacles pop up.

So, for us to actually meet our goals, we not only need the passion but we also need perseverance. To succeed, we must be willing to put in the effort, no matter what difficulties come our way. As a recently diagnosed pre-diabetic who has gone weeks now without any desserts, I know that we all have the capacity to persevere and do hard things!

So, yes, set SMART goals. But, recognize that without passion or perseverance you will likely fail in achieving your goals.

Dr. Angela Duckworth refers to this combination of passion and perseverance as grit (a new buzzword of the last few years). Her compelling research suggests that those who are consistently successful in reaching their goals have learned to develop grit. And, for those of us who don’t yet have grit, we can work to develop those characteristics.

Don’t You Run a Marriage Website?

What does all of this have to do with marriage?

Fair question! This article really has little to do with marriage… unless, of course, your goals are marriage related.

Allow me to speak bluntly!

You should always be trying to improve your marriage (even if you’re already happy). A healthy plant today will be shriveled and dying within a few weeks if you stop providing water and sunlight. Conversely, a dying plant today can be rejuvenated with sufficient care.

I don’t really care if your plants live or die, but I do care about your marriage. So, please make a resolution (New Year’s or otherwise) to work on your marriage. Powerful goals could include any of the following:

●      Strive to forgive and forget previous mistakes
●      Shut off technology earlier and spend more time connecting with your spouse each day
●      Hold hands and kiss like you did when you were newlyweds
●      Take time to be more intentional with your marriage

You get the idea. I really do hope that you lose those 20 pounds, or pay down your debt, or whatever else your goals may be. The principles that I shared will help towards that end. But, not all goals are created equal. Whatever else you do, have 2017 be the year to improve your marriage!

Don’t Read This Last Paragraph!

If your hopes for marriage are to be mildly happy or even mildly unhappy, then I ask you to read no further.

But, for those who want a marriage so wonderful and passionate that you constantly embarrass your children, then check out my latest eBook: 3 Things You Can Do Today to Create a Ridiculously Happy Marriage. This is a fun book full of practical and powerful principles and, at $4.99, it costs much less than your treadmill, your case of Gatorade, and maybe even that plant that you are in the process of killing.

Don't set goals in your marriage that you will fail, make resolutions that are going to be successful!