Columnists Features

Keep New Year’s resolutions SMART

DOREEN NAWA, Lusaka
MANY people use the New Year as an opportunity to make large bucket lists or attempt extreme makeovers, whether personal or professional.
Self-improvement, or at least the desire for it, is a shared hobby worldwide.
This is why many people make New Year’s resolutions.
New Year’s resolutions are said to be goals individuals aspire for in a given period, in this case a year. Unfortunately, come December 31, only a small fraction of people can confirm achieving half of what they had put on the list of resolutions.
A number of reasons are given by many for their failure to achieve goals hoping to start over the following year.
While some fail to attain their goals, others succeed. So, what is the secret behind those who succeed?
According to Felix Banda, a renowned local motivational speaker, an average person fails to achieve their resolutions because of competing priorities.
Mr Banda, who is popularly known as Galamukani said this subsequently spells doom for an individual’s set resolutions.
“Prioritising your resolutions is a good start for any individual. Essentially, shooting for the moon can be so psychologically daunting, you end up failing to launch in the first place. Put up SMART resolutions and you will win,” Mr Banda says.
SMART, Mr Banda says is Specific Measurable Agreed-upon, Realistic Time-based resolutions.
Mr Banda, an author of a book titled, “We just don’t become” says lack of incooperating SMART in individuals’ resolutions is the reason for their failure to achieve the set-goals.
“A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. For example, if ones resolution is to get in shape in 2017, then that is a general resolution. But a specific goal would say, ‘Join a health club and workout 3 days a week.’
By so doing, that person will be able to measure the resolution because it is specific. The action you give towards the attainment of the resolution is a vital component in achieving the resolution,” Mr Banda said.
Mr Banda says making one’s resolutions tangible is equally important.
“Like a resolution to lose some weight, it is not an easy one to follow. But it is much easier to follow a plan that will help you to live a disciplined lifestyle.
To achieve this, one needs to cut down on potato chips, fries, or ice cream for a certain period of time. And that’s what we call specific, measurable and attainable resolution,” he says.
Mr Banda’s view is that if you cannot measure it, it is not good resolution because vague goals beget vague resolutions.
He says to achieve success in resolutions set, one needs to keep believing they can do it and keep believing in themselves.
“Believing in self, coupled with focus and actions towards the set goal are vital in attaining the goals. If you cannot believe in yourself, you will find that within weeks or months, people begin abandoning their resolutions as they hit bumps in the road that throw them off their stride,” he says.
Mr Banda says an emerging tactic is sharing your goals with your friends and family.
“Sharing goals with friends and family is another way to build accountability, especially in the Facebook era,” he says.
Mr Banda says successfully achieving the New Year’s Resolutions requires building a positive environment that supports the specific desired aims.
“It also requires the support of like-minded people; requires saying “no” to stuff that does not matter or saying “no” to stuff that distracts you from your main path,” he says.
Setting ambitious resolutions can be fun and inspiring, but the difficulty in achieving them means that your elation can quickly give way to frustration.
That is the reason goals should be bound by rational and achievable metrics.
For Kebby Ndawa a resident of Lusaka’s Avondale township, it is more sensible to set small, attainable resolutions throughout the year, rather than a singular, overwhelming goal that will be difficult to attain.
Mr Ndawa says it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognising that lifestyle change is important and working toward it, one step at a time.
“I have failed to meet the resolutions severally and from the failures, I have learned that people who fail to keep their resolutions blame their own lack of willpower. As a would-be resolver, I repeatedly told myself that if only I had more self-determination, I would have challenged the hurdles and achieved my goals,” Mr Ndawa says.
When your goal is tangible you have a better chance of making it specific and measurable and thus attainable.
That is why Thandiwe Chewe of Lusaka’s Kamwala township has opted to turn her resolutions into prayer requests.
“It has become a yearly ritual for me, I set ambitious goals for the New Year and tackle them through prayer. This has helped me a lot to remain focused and attain the goals set. By putting them in prayer request form, you will be more likely to stay motivated to reach your goal,” she says.
For every success, one needs a system in place and what is lacking mostly in the attainment of the resolutions is a system.
There is no doubt that it takes a little willpower to achieve your desired objectives. However, it has been proven for some people that willpower is a limited resource. Maybe that is why individuals fail to stick to the resolutions made each year at it for the long-haul.

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