Most New Year's resolutions are about broad, sweeping reforms. Lose weight. Stop smoking. Become a nicer person. Spend more time with family and friends. These are all very well and good, but without a specific game plan, too many of them are doomed to failure before January is even over.
Enter the monthly goal --- the road map that will get you from New Year's great ideas to actual success at the end of the year.
When it comes to goal-setting, many successful people follow something similar to what is known as the MAPS principle. A good goal is Measurable, Attainable, Purposeful, and Specific. That way, you will be breaking down general resolutions into monthly goals --- your road map to success.
How it works...
One of my resolutions is "Exercise regularly and improve fitness". That all sounds well and good but, without a specific plan, I'm pretty much doomed to go on with my current habits and, at the end of 2009, be telling myself that 2010 will be the year that I really become more disciplined in exercising. And I'll feel like a guilty failure, berating myself for not keeping my resolutions. Or, even worse, I'll have completely forgotten what I resolved at the beginning of the year.
With monthly goals, I will have a workable plan. So, for January, my goal is to get at least 20 minutes of some form of exercise every day. This will help me form a habit for the rest of the year. It also fits the MAPS principle.
Measurable: I will measure my progress towards this goal by keeping a fitness calendar (more about that in days to come). It's easy to measure whether or not I exercised for at least 20 minutes.
Attainable: This is a realistic goal. I've looked over my calendar and determined that each day has at least 20 minutes in it that I can set aside for exercise, even if it is only taking a walk with the dog.
Purposeful: Having a purpose for this goal will motivate me in keeping it. Actually I could list a number of motivating factors. Any health or fitness website will detail the many benefits of daily exercise. My main motivation, besides those benefits, is to establish a daily habit that will help me be successful in my resolution.
Specific: This goal is quite specific. I've discovered that the more easily measurable a goal is, the more specific it tends to be, and vice versa.
Today I am looking at all of my resolutions and, if I haven't yet done so, am formulating my monthly goals for January. If I feel especially ambitious, I may go on to map out monthly goals for February and beyond.