By Whit Mitchell

At this time of year, there is no shortage of people telling us what to do to make the next year a success. I’m going to take a slightly different approach and tell you what not to do.

Don’t set goals that sound good.
Instead of shooting blindly ahead, now is a great time to look back on 2018. What worked well for you this year? What didn’t work so well? What could have gone better? And what can you change to see success? Don’t fall into the trap of setting lofty goals that look good on paper or sound good when you say them out loud. You may miss reaching them in if they aren’t realistic, or if you don’t have a passion for achieving them. Think SMART when setting goals, and make sure they are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.

Don’t set a yearly goal.
Instead set a dozen monthly incremental goals. A year is too long for progress on some goals, and can give you a false sense of having plenty of time to get there. Instead, break larger resolutions into monthly goals, then evaluate your progress and set a new one every 30 days.

Don’t be a copycat.
Most of us set our resolutions, only to fall short of our goals and never follow through on plans. Why is this? Because many of us set similar goals year after year. Take a look at what you want to accomplish in 2019. Are any of your resolutions similar or even identical to 2018? Things like “lose weight” or “exercise” or “eat better” tend to follow us from year to year. These are great resolutions if you actually do them. Examine what caused you to fail in the past and make sure that those obstacles are accounted for if you want to set a similar goal again. Once you’ve identified the obstacle, modify the goal so it is different and achievable.  

Don’t do it alone.
If you are going to make a commitment, you will have more success if you find an accountability partner or a peer coach to help keep you on track. I have had an accountability partner for years who is a friend and colleague of mine. Every week we talk on the phone and he asks me how I am coming along on nine commitments I have made (using nine questions I have written for him to ask me). Just knowing that I need to answer those questions each week keeps me moving forward on my goals. And I do the same for him.

Try these four “don’ts” in 2019, and see if your resolutions—and your results— change.