I have a confession. I love reading all the year-ahead horoscopes at the beginning of every year. It is a total guilty pleasure. I do not rule my life by it, but I do like to randomly see how things line up at the close of a challenging day.

I do mean all, astrological horoscopes, Chinese horoscopes, numerology. Several years ago now, I was doing this one January evening and I was struck by how accurately the Chinese horoscopes described, not only my personality, but the personalities of those close to me. So I started reading all the predictions for my family; Mom, Dad, brother, sister, niece and nephews, etc. Then I was chatting with my brother and was telling him the same and ended up reading my Rat profile and his Dog profile and he actually accused me of writing the descriptions myself. They were that spot on!

As we close out week two of the new calendar year, the University of Scranton predicts that an average of 29% of resolutions have already been abandoned. Are you in this group? Maybe you just have not really gotten a start on that resolution to “eat better”, “exercise more”, or “improve your cholesterol”? During the last two weeks I have read a LOT of articles about resolutions and why they don’t work. I’m actually not sure I read anything that indicated they were worthwhile, which I do find a little disturbing. I do agree that for the most part I think we state wishes for the year ahead without putting in place specific milestones and plans to achieve the change we wish to create in our lives. At its core change is hard, not impossible mind you, but if it were easy everyone would be doing it.

Here is where my guilty pleasure and New Year’s resolutions seem to mesh this year. A resolution do over corresponding with the start of another new year. Friday, January 31st is the start of Lunar or Chinese New Year (second full moon after winter solstice). One month into the Gregorian calendar seems like a great time to take stock of our general wishes for the year and put some measurable goals in place to make them attainable realities. It may also be a good time to think about what may be holding you back from formulating more specific goals. And in some cases it is ok to throw out some of those items, because maybe they just are not resonating with you, in other cases change may be needed and HARD. Only true honesty with yourself can tell you which is true and then only hard work can help you navigate your milestones to find the results you seek.

There is no silver bullet to reach your truly great goals. However, with some planning and work, progress will happen to propel you forward.

  1. Choose 1 overarching goal. Change is hard, if your goal is to loose significant weight in 2014 and you have tried this before with less success than you were happy with, put a number to it and leave your overarching goals there. Piling on too many significant goals may split your focus and make real change in even one area seem impossible.
  2. Create Milestones to meet your overarching goal. Get out of your comfort zone here. If your overarching goal is to lose 50 pounds by December 31st and finishing a 5k seems a ridiculous goal, get one on the calendar and get out for a 1 mile walk today!
  3. Schedule your Milestones. Setting reminders to check in on your milestones with some regularity is key to ensuring ultimate goal reaching success. I do find having an accountability partner in different areas of my life to be a motivator for me to follow through and show up for myself as well as my buddy. Too often we will show up for others where we may not be as motivated to show up for ourselves. (This is topic for another day indeed.)
  4. Revisit the current state of your goal with scheduled regularity and adjust your milestones as needed. Maybe you are knocking all of your milestones out of the park with ease… perhaps you have not stretched enough out of your comfort zone to create some real change. In this case increase the challenge and try for a milestone that seems like a “reach”. Conversely, if you are somehow held back from meeting your current milestone, assess what is holding you back and reset your schedule or update your milestone to assist you in getting back on track. Maybe this milestone is too big of a reach and there is an additional mid-point milestone necessary to keep you moving forward with success. Course corrections are sometimes necessary to address old habits and find our best route to new found success.

High level, our resolution re-do might look like this:

  1. Overarching goal: Improve my fitness to lose weight and lower my cholesterol.
  2. Choose Milestones: Choose a cardio event to train for: Perhaps a fun reach event like the Disneyland 5k, 10k or half marathon in September or a Potomac River Running event or set of events close to home. Schedule cardio and cross training activities (happy to help you with this if this type of activity is on your list!) Remember cardio can be a brisk walk or a run-walk mix.
  3. Schedule your Milestone activities: Schedule all of these items on your calendar for a visual reminder. Delete them if you move them, add them in on alternate days if they switch or you do more. Keeping a log will increase your motivation to stick with it or show where you may need to make some changes to the plan because a certain day is consistently not working.
  4. Work with a buddy for some added accountability. It is always easier to get out for that walk or run if your friend is going to be waiting for you on the corner or at the trail! Or maybe just calling you to see how your training went that day.

So here is your mission if you choose to accept it, evaluate those New Year’s Resolutions and throw out those that are too broad or maybe too comfortable. 2014 is the year of the wooden horse in the Chinese calendar. “The Year of the Wood Horse, January 31, 2014 through February 18, 2015, is expansive and exuberant! It rewards honest opinions and disciplined thinking.” What a perfect time to reach for a goal and create some positive change in your world.

Post your revisited overarching goals in the comments. Can’t wait to see what you are reaching for in the year of wood horse!