So another year has passed and once again we are looking forward to another year.  Traditionally most of us set New Year’s resolutions, which is all about setting personal goals. 

This is not a new phenomeon.  The ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of a new year.  The Romans made promises to their god, Janus, after whom the month of January is named.   In the Medieval era the knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season to reaffirm their commitment to chivalry. 

However, in the modern age we set lots of different personal goals with the aim of becoming a better person – to get along better with people, to quit smoking, stop biting nails, to lose weight, take more exercise, eat better, drink less alcohol, improve our career, get another job, manage our time better, be less stressed, etc.

Whatever personal goals we set ourselves, ideally, they should be SMART which stands for specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and timed.   They can be related to your work or your personal life or both. 

It is important to be specific about a personal goal because then you understand exactly what you need to do.  Ask yourself question such as who, what, when, where, how and why  The goal should be measureable so that ultimately you can see whether you have achieved what you set out to do eg if you lose a few pounds after setting a goal to lose weight you know you will have achieved what you set out to do. 

A personal goal should be achievable.  There’s no point setting a goal about taking a trip to the moon when you know you are never ever going to achieve that so it needs to something that you can accomplish, however, don’t make it too easy.  There is pride in achieving something that has been a challenge to you.    

Likewise a realistic goal needs to be one that you are willing to work towards, which means commitment. 

Finally a goal needs to be time bound so you set parameters in terms of a timescale by which you wish to achieve your goal.  By setting a deadline hopefully it will give you something to work towards rather than put it off.

Having set your personal objectives you need to write them down.  Research has shown that if goals are written down they are more likely to be achieved.  Write a to do list, put a note in your diary or put up a post it note on the wall.   Conjure up a powerful image of you actually achieving your goal – you are more likely to achieve it. 

Monitor and review your progress, it may help to rejuvenate your enthusiasm which might wane as the days, weeks and months go by.  Create a routine and stick to it. 

Research has shown that 88% of those people who set New Year’s resolutions fail.  However, men were more likely to achieve their goal by taking small steps to achieve that goal, whereas women are best harnessing public support from their friends. 

If you share your goals with others who are looking to achieve the same thing or gaining peer support it can make a huge difference to the success rate.

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