I love New Year’s because I love progress.

Over the weekend I wrote a full page list of goals I want to accomplish in 2012, personally and in ministry.  What scared me is that a few of my goals look eerily like some of my goals from early 2011.

Some of that is understandable: big goals don’t always get accomplished in 12 months.  But some was honestly just a lack of follow through.  But what I don’t want to do (and what I don’t think you want to do) is to make resolutionsonly  to break them or ignore them.

So what’s the secret to keeping the resolutions you make?

Writing them down? Nope.  I’ve not kept resolutions I’ve written down.

Commitment? No, I’m pretty committed to what I write down.

Developing a plan? I’ve had plans that I’ve not followed before either.

Discipline? I can be pretty disciplined in some areas but not in others.

So what is it?  Why do I keep some resolutions but not others?  I spend some time reflecting on that and realized that when I add two key ingredients into my new year’s resolution process, my accomplishment rate jumps significantly:

Specific Accountability. When I personally track with someone on my goals, I am far more likely to meet them.  Whether you join a club, hire a trainer, meet with a consultant or share the goals you have with mentors or a personal board of directors, creating specific accountability will help you fulfil far more of your goals.

Measuring the Cost of Non-Fulfilment. When I count the cost of not fulfilling a goal, I am more likely to fulfill it.  The tough part is that a lot of the consequences to not fulfilling your goals are far down the road.  Not losing 20 pounds probably won’t kill you this year, but it might in 20 years.  Financial irresponsibility may not bankrupt you in 2012, but it could expose you to real hardship three years from now.  Neglecting your relationship with God, your marriage or your parenting might not create any immediate crisis a year from now, but give it five years and you could end up divorced, estranged from your kids and feeling like God has lost all interest in you.

In addition to writing down my goals this year, I’m focusing in on specific accountability on each one of them with a couple of key people in my life.  In fact, last week I had a friend tell me to give him my list of goals and he was going to personally commit to helping me accomplish them this year.  What an incredible gift!  Even writing them knowing we were going to have a year long dialogue on every one of them made me realize that I’d better be serious about each of them.

I’m also going to pay more attention to what’s at stake if I miss any of them this year.  Again, the short term cost might be small, but the long term cost could be much higher.

How about you?  What do you find helpful in reaching your goals?



  1. Carey on January 3, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Great point Yvonne. Being specific is really important. Thank you!

  2. Yvonne on January 3, 2012 at 11:00 am

    I find to keep goals I have to make them very specific. To say something like “I am going to take better care of myself in 2012” is so vague that it is hard to measure whether you are really doing it or not. Ditto for saying “I am going to eat healthier and exercise more.” What really does that look like? It helps to break big goals like that into smaller, more measurable goals and then share them with someone to make sure you are doing them. For instance, to say, “I am going to drink 750 mL of water every day in the month of January,” is very measurable. You can get water bottles that size and commit to drinking that much each day. It’s then easy at the end of every day to see whether you’ve accomplished your goal or not. You can also have a partner to remind you or to ask you if you are drinking your water. Then next month, you add another goal that is in line with eating better and exercising more, one that is just as measurable. If you keep at it, you’ll have taken better care of yourself in 2012. It’s all about being very, very specific and asking yourself, “What would accomplishing my goal LOOK like?”

  3. Robert Singh on January 2, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Which begs the question, why can God not work as the one in which we are accountable?

    • Carey on January 2, 2012 at 11:30 pm

      That is a great point. I think ultimately God is absolutely the one we are accountable to. But for some reason he puts us in relationship with people. I sometimes find that people who insist their only accountability is to God often want to be accountable to no one (I totally know this isn’t your attitude at all Robert). I believe God uses people to keep us aligned with him. What do you think?

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