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It's July but Happy New Year all the same!

July 04, 2016

Happy New Year!

Yes, I know what you are thinking; that I probably had too much to drink this weekend and had all the dates in my mind messed up. No ladies and gentlemen. It’s true I did drink a lot this weekend, just like any other day anyway, but the strongest drink I indulge in is coffee, and my favorite is a lot of water. And yes I do know today is 3rd July 2016.

I said Happy New Year and I meant exactly that for many reasons. For starters, it is the 3rd day of the government’s/fiscal year. Secondly, if the government can decide to come up with its own year, I believe you can too. Thirdly, you can decide to have a new year any time between January and December and no one will stop you. Now, if even after these three reasons you still don’t feel that I’m making sense, please give me a little more of your time and I will have all this cleared in a bit.

In the recently ended month of June 2016, I found myself dwelling a lot on the issue of dreams; chasing your dreams and not giving up on them no matter how much you are pushed to do so by the circumstances surrounding you. My Sunday articles also reflected this theme. Those who have been reading them will attest to that and those who missed them, please feel free to browse this blog link.

At the beginning of this year, I know many of you (myself included) sat down and came up with a list of New Year resolutions/dreams that you wanted to follow through and achieve by the end of this year. Of course I know this is something that happens every year. If I was to ask you, how many of you remember what was on that list you made? Do you even know where you placed it after you printed it out or wrote? I have to confess I was trying to look for mine the other day, the physical one, and I didn’t find it. I must have put it in some book somewhere and I can’t remember which one it is. Thankfully though, I have a soft copy of it in all my devices so am good.

I was listening to a podcast by Anthony Robins the other day and I have to say he touched a raw nerve (in me) when he mentioned New Year resolutions.  He said that by the 15th of January every year, 80% of the people who come up with New Year resolutions already have them all broken. Only about 8% actually make it to see their New Year resolutions come to fruition. As for the remaining 12%, I guess they are the ones whose resolution is not to make any resolution at all. Anyway, my question is, are you one of the majority forming the 80% or are you among the rare 8%?  Next question is, what qualifies one to be in the 80% or in the 8%? Last question is, is it possible to move from one group to the other? As in is it possible to move from the 80% group and join the 8%? Those are some of the few questions today’s article seeks to answer. Well, at least the last two questions. The first question only you can answer for yourself.

So what qualifies you to be in the 80% group, the group of resolution breakers, the group of non-achievers? There are many reasons but for today, I will dwell on one major one, which is the foundation for all the others. I will refer to it as lack of  S.M.A.R.T. resolutions.

I decided to look up the meaning of the word smart and found a few interesting synonyms that I think would very well define the kind of resolutions we should all have.  The dictionary used words such as intelligent, sharp or stinging, shrewd among others. I choose to focus on these three words because that is exactly what your resolutions (also known as goals) should be. You should have intelligent goals, sharp enough to pierce your very soul every time you cheat on your goals and shrewd enough to make you determine the necessary steps to take way before the time the actual results are to be received.

If you noticed, the way I've written the word smart is in an acronym form, meaning that each letter represents one characteristic of the combined characteristics that your resolutions should have if you are to actually achieve them. So what does the acronym actually stand for? Here goes…

  • SPECIFIC – one of the reasons why many people never achieve their resolutions is because they are never specific. For instance, some will say they want to lose weight, others to read more, etc. Question is, how much weight do you want to lose? If it is about reading, what do you want to read and how much of it do you want to read? For your resolutions to make sense, you have to be very specific. If you want to lose weight, be sure how much weight you want to lose. Is it 10Kgs, 5Kgs? If it is about reading, be specific on what you want to read. Is it personal development books? Be specific.
  • MEASURABLE – going by the two examples I used above, one way of making sure that you are on your way to achieving your resolutions is by ensuring that you have a way of measuring your progress regularly to ensure you are on track. For instance, if you say you want to lose 10kgs, you also have to determine how many Kgs you want to lose every week, every month, etc. You have to be able to see progress. You have to be able to measure your progress.
  • ATTAINABLEyou have to make sure that your resolutions are attainable. For instance, you cannot say you will read 1,000 books in one day! Is that even possible? Your resolutions have to make sense and must be attainable because otherwise, you will get discouraged along the way and shelve them aside, expecially when stuff becomes tough.
  • REALISTIC your goals not only have to be attainable, they must also be realistic. You have to decide for yourself how far you are ready to go in order to reach your goals. You have to decide how much you are willing to be stretched in order to meet your dreams. But if your resolutions are unrealistic, then they automatically become unattainable. Using the 1000 books as an example, you and I both know no one can read 1,000, 300-paged books in 24 hours! That is totally unrealistic and completely unattainable.
  • TIME-BOUNDall the above characteristics will not work for your resolutions if they are not tied to a specific deadline. For instance, if you say you want to lose 10Kgs, by when do you want to lose that weight? Once you decide how long it will take you to lose that weight, then you can easily decide that every month you will be losing a certain amount of weight, hence it becomes easy for you to measure your progress.

Now, if you can go back and revisit your resolutions, do they possess the characteristics that I have outlined above? Can they qualify to be called SMART resolutions or not? If not, do you now understand why you fall under the 80% category? Most importantly, do you now understand what do you need to do in order to SMARTen them up?

This is what I meant by Happy New Year. I am giving you the opportunity to revisit your New Year goals/resolutions and asking you to start working on them now, especially if you already broke them like Tony Robins said most people do. If you are already halfway through your list, it is a good time for you to give yours a little oomph for the remainder of the year.

Now that we have answered one question, the next question is, what will make you part of the 8% that realizes their New Year resolutions?

Join me next week to answer this question.

Last but not least, if you still think me wishing you a Happy New Year in July is crazy, here is something you should consider: Today is the first day of the rest of your life”.

You can apply the same concept and decide that TODAY is the first day of YOUR year. Remember, it is not really how you start that counts, it is how you finish that matters. 

So Happy New Year once again, and I wish you renewed energy as you SMARTen your resolutions.

PS: Article originally published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 3rd July, 2016, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".

 

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