The Year Of Baby Steps
A recent study showed that more than 75 percent of respondents will break their NewYear's resolutions within 3 months and almost one-third will break them by the end of January. Apparently we all have good intentions, but generally poor follow through. Why? Forty-three percent say they are not committed to the New Year's resolutions they set and 25 percent say they have too many other things to do, which is really just another way of saying they are not committed to their resolutions. With years and years of abandoned lists to learn from, it's time to come up with a new strategy. Let's make 2010 the year of the baby step - and beat those dismal New Year's Resolution odds.
Sarah on "The Power of Baby Steps" "In mid-November, I handed in a book manuscript to our publisher that was 70,000 words long, or about 250 pages of copy. Obviously, you can't just sit down and crank something like that out in a day or two. Reaching such a big goal, or really any goal for that matter, is only possible by putting one foot in front of the other and taking one step at a time, until you reach the finish line. It is only marginally helpful to have the 'big' goal in mind as you do the hard work of moving toward it. Of course, you do want to know what you're shooting for, but that fuzzy end state is not very tangible and can be overwhelming and even demotivating if you consider how hard you will have to work to reach it. What is much more helpful is to break up big resolutions and goals into a series of much smaller baby step goals. That's just what we did in writing our book. Rather than focusing on the goal of writing an entire book over the course of a year, we'd set the goal of drafting a chapter every two weeks. Within that, we'd set a weekly goal of completing certain parts of a chapter. When I was done with each chapter, I 'celebrated' by noting how many words the chapter was and subtracting it from the 70,000 word total we wanted to reach to see how much work we had left to do/what kind of progress we were making. Now that we're finished, I keep the little slip of notepad paper I tracked all of the totals on in my to-do list notebook and look at it when I want to remind myself of the importance of taking baby steps."
Alicia on "Baby Steps Keep You Focused on the Process" "The power of baby step goals is that they focus your energy and effort on the process, not the end state. One of the problems, as Sarah mentioned, with big goals is that it's easy to get fixated on the end result and ignore or get overwhelmed by the process. The process is what transforms. The more in tune with it you are, the more likely you are to do the work required to reach your goal."
Here are a few more ways to take baby steps towards your resolutions in the coming year.
1. Set One Resolution a Month. A lot of people set four, five, even ten New Year's resolutions. Then they try to work toward all of those resolutions at once. No wonder they get tired and give up! As an alternative, consider setting one resolution a month. That way you can focus your energy and attention on just one thing at a time.
2. Break Your (Monthly) Resolution into Smaller (Weekly) Goals. Once you have identified a goal to achieve, break it down into a series of smaller, easier-to-reach monthly and then weekly goals. For example, if your resolution is to get out of debt by June, then break the total amount of money you need to save into six monthly amounts, and then break the monthly amounts into four weekly amounts. It's much easier to figure out how to save $20 than it is to save $200 or $2,000. Consider getting momentum on your side by setting the bar higher in the first few weeks, when you're really motivated.
3. Put it On the Schedule. If you don't schedule time at least once a week with yourself to make progress on your goal, then you are not likely to achieve it. It's such a simple thing, but consciously blocking off time to work on your goal each week has tremendous power.
Over the next three weeks, our column will be dedicated to breaking down the top three New Year's resolutions into baby steps. Happy New Year and we look forward to helping you get organized to reach your goals this year!
by: Alicia Rockmore and Sarah Welch