LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
When Voltaire penned the words “every man is guilty of all the good he didn't do,” chances are he was not talking about New Year’s resolutions.
However, you may be surprised how the quote, originally meant for political change in 17th century France, could also apply to a year-long personal, positive commitment that has an 80 percent chance of failing in less than two months, according to Business Insider.
But why would something faultless and "good" often fail so fast? Do we not seek to better ourselves and those we live around? Do we not strive for a higher standard of living, or do we enjoy the use of catchphrases and wishful thinking to substitute doing any work?
Fortunately for many who do fail, according to Don Lenmark, Airman and Family Readiness Center personal financial counselor, the reason is not the latter.
"You need to start with the big picture, but then whittle it down, streamline it, and get to that fine tip point to find out what you want,” said Lenmark. "What is realistic is to find out what is more important to you at the time, and then to plan accordingly to make it as specific as possible."
Often, setting an unrealistic goal is nearly as bad as not having set a goal at all. Adopting a more realistic, milestone-orientated goal helps you to not only keep it, but to also show more progress and set a strong foundation to establish longer term accomplishments.
"Goals, when they're really vague they sound cool," said Lenmark. "All those things are big picture goals, but to be specific we have to make them into smart goals."
To help you succeed, use the S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) goal process. This mnemonic guide, established by George Doran, was developed to create management and operational goals, but is widely versatile and can be adapted to any goal.
Once you come up with the S.M.A.R.T. plan, give yourself time to act on it. Breaks, or "cheat days," are completely okay as long as the days do not turn into multiple days or weeks. Also, realize that steady progress requires a lot of time and can make your efforts seem fruitless, even when they aren’t.
"It's easy to get side tracked because of the instant gratification of everything," said Lenmark. "By having the goal in the future be more important [than] the here and now, we dispel the negative chatter.”
Another good jump-start to your goal is to find resources to help get your feet wet. Along with self-help methods, Laughlin Air Force Base possesses many advisors, teachers and mentors to assist with anything from physical fitness to financial management.
“If you don’t have anyone to hold you accountable, that’s where I can come in as an A&FRC resource,” said Lenmark.
Whatever your goals are, there’s never been a better year than 2018 to get a head start on them. By implementing the S.M.A.R.T. method and seeking the appropriate resources to help you act on your goals properly, you can help ensure that this year’s resolution doesn’t become one of the 80 percent that fail in less than two months.
(Airman 1st Class Marco Gomez contributed to this story)