New Year, New Goals

It’s the first Monday of the new year—have you set any resolutions?

Take responsibility

Whether your resolution is to simply eat more vegetables or build a strong business from the ground up, it’s important to know one key to success: you must take full responsibility. The actions you take, the thoughts you dwell on, the friends you surround yourself with—these are all decisions you alone make. Nobody is forcing you to do anything; it’s all up to you.

If you’re set on keeping your resolutions, you must understand there is no place for blaming outside influences or people, nor a lack of willpower. If you don’t follow through, it’s nobody else’s fault but your own. On the other hand, if you dofollow through—no matter what happens—your success is all your own, too.

Intentionally build good habits

Being responsible for your success (or failure) is tough. Every day, you must choose to take the steps necessary to reach your goal, which can require much effort. Fortunately, when you choose to do something over and over, it soon becomes a habit.

Think about it: when you get into your car, you don’t have to intentionally think about putting on your seatbelt, putting the key in the ignition, turning it to start the engine, placing your foot on the brake pedal, turning on your headlights—it’s all habit for you! You probably don’t think about any of these steps as you do them because your mind and body are habituated to doing them.

Of course, building a habit takes time. When I decided to start exercising after more than thirty years of minimal activity, I forced myself to get up each morning for the first few weeks. Lying in bed, I had the choice to get up and exercise or go back to sleep. Nobody else could make the decision for me. I stuck with it, though, and soon it didn’t seem like a choice for me anymore; it was a given that I was going to exercise. My intentional actions soon became ingrained habit.

What habit do you need to build in order to reach your resolution? How long are you going to choose to stick with it?

Choose your goal daily

Whatever your resolutions are for this year, achieving them means choosing them on a daily basis.

For instance, if your goal is to eat healthier, you have a choice today: to pick up some junk food for dinner or to make a nutritious dinner at home. Choose your goal: eat healthier today.

If your goal is to run a marathon, you have a choice today: create a running plan for the months leading up to the race or put it off for tomorrow. Choose your goal: make the plan today.

Over and over, you will be presented with an option to choose your goal or take a step back from it. You alone are responsible for your decisions.

If you set a resolution to get sober or maintain sobriety, you will have to choose this goal endlessly. It won’t just be a daily decision, but perhaps an hourly or even minute-by-minute decision. Don’t allow anything to compel you to relapse. Losing your sobriety isn’t something that merely happens to you; it doesn’t spring upon you. It requires you to grab that bottle and drink—that’s no accident. Decide today you will not drink, no matter what circumstance you’re in, no matter how strong the craving. Then set up what you must to guard yourself.

Plan out your steps

If you set a goal without any idea how to achieve it, it’s going to be pure luck if you succeed. However, if you know the exact steps to take, success will be to your credit.

If you’re not sure what steps to take, do your research—that’s the first step! Create a plan with small steps or goals; when you achieve several smaller goals, you’ll achieve a bigger goal without it appearing daunting. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? If you know the path to success, all that’s left is to follow it.