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10 Tips For Making New Year’s Resolutions Come True

10 Tips For Making New Year’s Resolutions Come True

New Year’s resolutions are a funny thing, aren’t they? Everyone gets together and promises that this year they’re going to do better. They’re going to achieve this, change that and ultimately be fulfilled by the end of the year. Then the booze and excitement of the night before wears off. Reality hits. That goal you just saw the New Year in with, that seemed feasible, now seems like an overwhelmingly large mountain to climb. Sure, you might try and stick to it. Maybe even keep it up for a couple of weeks. Then life has its way of taking over, and eventually you give up. “I’ll try again next year,” you comfort yourself with. Wouldn’t it be great if you could change that? If you could set a New Year’s resolution and actually stick to it? How incredible would it feel to set a goal, put in the work, and achieve it? You don’t have to wonder. You can do it.

This year can be your year of change. It can be the year that you actually achieve your resolutions. Want to know how? Of course you do, you wouldn’t be reading otherwise. So here it is, 10 tips you can use to set a goal and achieve it.

1. Tell People about Your Resolutions

By telling people about your resolutions, you are consciously committing to them. Just think about it: If you’ve told someone you’re going to do something, people are going to be expecting you to do it. You’ve not just made the commitment to you, you’ve made it to everyone you’ve told.

Another nice benefit of telling people about your resolutions is the support that comes with it. When the right people know about your resolution, they’ll stand behind you in achieving it. They’ll act as a support net, to spur you on even when you think you can’t do it. This may seem to contradict what some scientists including Derek Sivers say, but if you read this article from an inspiration expert, you will see that what Sivers and others meant actually correlates with this point.

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2. Clarify Your Resolutions

Ensure that your resolution can be actively tracked. Take, for example, a resolution of reading more. This is too vague. How will you know when you’ve achieved this goal? Will you be satisfied with reading a book once a month? A week? A day? The only way to know if you’ve achieved your resolution is by clarifying them so that they’re achievable.

If you want to read more, then you’re far better off setting a tangible and achievable goal — such as reading two books a month. You can track your progress, you’ll know if you’ve slacked on it, and you’ll know if you’ve achieved it! As thought-leader Michael Hyatt once explained, the clarification of goals makes them seem more feasible in your mind. You can find a very well-written post by him, on clarifying goals (in writing) here.

3. Make a Plan

Tying into point 2, about clarifying them. Once clarified, you can then create a plan to break down the clarified goal into smaller sub-goals that you can achieve daily. If you imagine your resolution as small, actionable steps, the achievement of the goal becomes a lot more feasible in your head.

Take the reading example. If you want to read 100 books a year, that could seem pretty overwhelming. If you break that down to reading one book every 4 days, it becomes a lot more realistic. This way you can also actively monitor your progress, and you’ll know whether or not you’re on target to meet it. You can find a great post explaining how setting goals helps, as well as how to adequately plan them, over at MindTools.

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4. Re-Frame Your Resolutions

Your resolution should not be putting you down. Don’t allow your resolution to become a passive way of saying, “I won’t be good enough until I achieve this.” This is a sure-fire way to become demotivated by the idea of achieving them, and can really get you down in the long-run. Take a new perspective on goals. Remind yourself that you’re good enough, each and every day and that your goals are just serving as a means to be better. You’re not doing it to be enough, you’re doing it to be MORE. That’s the kind of perspective that really begins to push your preconceived limits.

5.  Stop focusing on the end result

As Jeff Haden beautifully broke down in a post you can find here, when we commit to a goal, we really should commit to the process. The idea of the goals can often feel like we’re holding them at arms length. As though we should just achieve them and we’re done. When we commit to the process, the journey, of the goal, however, it’s a lot easier to make it an enjoyable experience.

The goal is in the distance, getting there is where our focus needs to be. You can’t constantly be looking at the map to see your end destination while driving, otherwise you’ll crash on the way there.

6. Know When to Take a Break

Burning out is a very real possibility when you’re not taking breaks. Find the time each day to let your mind relax. No goal or resolution should consume your mind from the moment of waking to the moment of sleep. Taking effective breaks has also been shown to increase our productivity.

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With that said, checking your social media accounts and watching TV are not breaks for the mind – they’re probably more stressful. Meditate, sing, take a walk, have a shower, do a small workout or something similar instead. If you want to know more about the advantages of taking breaks, but don’t want to sift through an academic paper, there’s a great post on FastCompany that broke it down. You can find it here.

7. Push Yourself

There’s a great quote by Bruce Lee, that says:

“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”

How this relates to reaching your resolutions is very simple: there will be plateaus in your progress towards achieving them. There will be points where you’re uncertain that you can really achieve what you’ve set out to do. Not just in your New Year’s resolutions but in life, in general. This is where you need to push yourself. You can’t accept “no” for an answer. Dig deep, find the will within to push past the plateau. Discouragement can become fuel when we allow it to be. Setbacks can become fuel when we allow them to be. You’ve simply got to keep pushing. You will achieve it. Tell yourself you’ll excel. You’ll be surprised how much more capable you really are.

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8. Reward yourself

Temptation bundling is a strangely, yet unsurprisingly, simple way to push yourself to achieve more. The premise is simple, tie what you want to achieve (but seem to be struggling to do so) with a reward, and get the reward each time you work towards the goal.

A good example, as demonstrated in this somewhat contradictory post, is your workout. If you really enjoy listening to audiobooks, but don’t like working out, and your resolution is to workout more frequently – limit your audiobook listening time to the gym. If you like your audiobooks enough, it’ll spur you on to actually go workout.

9. Don’t give in to the critic

You’re going to have doubters. They’re a part of life. So why not use them to motivate and encourage you? Now okay, it’s probably not best to be striving to achieve something out of spite, but as Collis Ta’eed outlines in his post about achieving more, people will try to bind you to their own self-set limitations. Take their criticism, and tell yourself that you’re not bound by what they’re bound to. Go out, make it happen, achieve it. Then, when all is said and done, go back to the critic and respectfully tell them of your achievement, and thank them for their help.

Not only will you have achieved something, but you have the potential to help another being evaluate why they’ve set such limits for themselves. It’s a win-win. (Plus you can be a little smug, but only a little.)

10. Celebrate Your Achievements

Forget what others think about it, if you’re happy about the progress you’re making, you have every right to celebrate it and shout it from the rooftops. It’ll only empower you to continue pursuing that goal. So there you have it, 10 tips for actually sticking to and achieving your New Year’s resolutions. If you liked this post, go ahead and share it or leave a comment.

Featured photo credit: resolutions via static.communitytable.com

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Last Updated on September 30, 2019

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

Minutes are a written record of a board, company, or organizational meeting. Meeting minutes are considered a legal document, so when writing them, strive for clarity and consistency of tone.

Because minutes are a permanent record of the meeting, be sure to proofread them well before sending. It is a good idea to run them by a supervisor or seasoned attendee to make sure statements and information are accurately captured.

The best meeting minutes takers are careful listeners, quick typists, and are adequately familiar with the meeting topics and attendees. The note taker must have a firm enough grasp of the subject matter to be able to separate the important points from the noise in what can be long, drawn-out discussions. And, importantly, the note taker should not simultaneously lead and take notes. (If you’re ever asked to do so, decline.)

Following, are some step-by-step hints to effectively write meeting minutes:

1. Develop an Agenda

Work with the Chairperson or Board President to develop a detailed agenda.

Meetings occur for a reason, and the issues to be addressed and decided upon need to be listed to alert attendees. Work with the convener to draft an agenda that assigns times to each topic to keep the meeting moving and to make sure the group has enough time to consider all items.

The agenda will serve as your outline for the meeting minutes. Keep the minutes’ headings consistent with the agenda topics for continuity.

2. Follow a Template from Former Minutes Taken

If you are new to a Board or organization, and are writing minutes for the first time, ask to see the past meeting minutes so that you can maintain the same format.

Generally, the organization name or the name of the group that is meeting goes at the top: “Meeting of the Board of Directors of XYZ,” with the date on the next line. After the date, include both the time the meeting came to order and the time the meeting ended.

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Most groups who meet do so regularly, with set agenda items at each meeting. Some groups include a Next Steps heading at the end of the minutes that lists projects to follow up on and assigns responsibility.

A template from a former meeting will also help determine whether or not the group records if a quorum was met, and other items specific to the organization’s meeting minutes.

3. Record Attendance

On most boards, the Board Secretary is the person responsible for taking the meeting minutes. In organizational meetings, the minutes taker may be a project coordinator or assistant to a manager or CEO. She or he should arrive a few minutes before the meeting begins and pass around an attendance sheet with all members’ names and contact information.

Meeting attendees will need to check off their names and make edits to any changes in their information. This will help as both a back-up document of attendees and ensure that information goes out to the most up-to-date email addresses.

All attendees’ names should be listed directly below the meeting name and date, under a subheading that says “Present.” List first and last names of all attendees, along with title or affiliation, separated by a comma or semi-colon.

If a member of the Board could not attend the meeting, cite his or her name after the phrase: “Copied To:” There may be other designations in the participants’ list. For example, if several of the meeting attendees are members of the staff while everyone else is a volunteer, you may want to write (Staff) after each staff member.

As a general rule, attendees are listed alphabetically by their last names. However, in some organizations, it’s a best practice to list the leadership of the Board first. In that case, the President or Co-Presidents would be listed first, followed by the Vice President, followed by the Secretary, and then by the Treasurer. Then all other names of attendees would be alphabetized by last name.

It is also common practice to note if a participant joined the meeting via conference call. This can be indicated by writing: “By Phone” and listing the participants who called in.

4. Naming Convention

Generally, the first time someone speaks in the meeting will include his or her name and often the title.

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For example, “President of the XYZ Board, Roger McGowan, called the meeting to order.” The next time Roger McGowan speaks, though, you can simply refer to him as “Roger.” If there are two Rogers in the meeting, use an initial for their last names to separate the two. “Roger M. called for a vote. Roger T. abstained.”

5. What, and What Not, to Include

Depending on the nature of the meeting, it could last from one to several hours. The attendees will be asked to review and then approve the meeting minutes. Therefore, you don’t want the minutes to extend into a lengthy document.

Capturing everything that people say verbatim is not only unnecessary, but annoying to reviewers.

For each agenda item, you ultimately want to summarize only the relevant points of the discussion along with any decisions made. After the meeting, cull through your notes, making sure to edit out any circular or repetitive arguments and only leave in the relevant points made.

6. Maintain a Neutral Tone

Minutes are a legal document. They are used to establish an organization’s historical record of activity. It is essential to maintain an even, professional tone. Never put inflammatory language in the minutes, even if the language of the meeting becomes heated.

You want to record the gist of the discussion objectively, which means mentioning the key points covered without assigning blame. For example, “The staff addressed board members’ questions regarding the vendor’s professionalism.”

Picture a lawyer ten years down the road reading the minutes to find evidence of potential wrongdoing. You wouldn’t want an embellishment in the form of a colorful adverb or a quip to cloud any account of what took place. Here’s a list of neutral sounding words to get started with.

7. Record Votes

The primary purpose of minutes is to record any votes a board or organization takes. Solid record-keeping requires mentioning which participant makes a motion — and what the motion states verbatim — and which participant seconds the motion.

For example, “Vice President Cindy Jacobsen made a motion to dedicate 50 percent, or $50,000, of the proceeds from the ZZZ Foundation gift to the CCC scholarship fund. President Roger McGowan seconded the motion.”

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This vote tabulation should be expressed in neutral language as well. “The Board voted unanimously to amend the charter in the following way,” or “The decision to provide $1,000 to the tree-planting effort passed 4 to 1, with Board President McGowan opposing.”

Most Boards try to get a vote passed unanimously. Sometimes in order to help the Board attain a more cohesive outcome, a Board member may abstain from voting. “The motion passed 17 to 1 with one absension.”

8. Pare down Notes Post-Meeting

Following the meeting, read through your notes while all the discussions remain fresh in your mind, and make any needed revisions. Then, pare the meeting minutes down to their essentials, providing a brief account of the discussion that summarizes arguments made for and against a decision.

People often speak colloquially or in idioms, as in: “This isn’t even in the ballpark” or “You’re beginning to sound like a broken record.” While you may be tempted to keep the exact language in the minutes to add color, resist.

Additionally, if any presentations are part of the meeting, do not include information from the Powerpoint in the minutes. However, you will want to record the key points from the post-presentation discussion.

9. Proofread with Care

Make sure that you spelled all names correctly, inserted the correct date of the meeting, and that your minutes read clearly.

Spell out acronyms the first time they’re used. Remember that the notes may be reviewed by others for whom the acronyms are unfamiliar. Stay consistent in headings, punctuation, and formatting. The minutes should be polished and professional.

10. Distribute Broadly

Once approved, email minutes to the full board — not just the attendees — for review. Your minutes will help keep those who were absent apprised of important actions and decisions.

At the start of the next meeting, call for the approval of the minutes. Note any revisions. Try to work out the agreed-upon changes in the meeting, so that you don’t spend a huge amount of time on revisions.

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Ask for a motion to approve the minutes with the agreed-upon changes. Once an attendee offers a motion, ask for another person in the meeting to “second” the motion. They say, “All approved.” Always ask if there is anyone who does not approve. Assuming not, then say: “The minutes from our last meeting are approved once the agreed-upon changes have been made.”

11. File Meticulously

Since minutes are a legal document, take care when filing them. Make sure the file name of the document is consistent with the file names of previously filed minutes.

Occasionally, members of the organization may want to review past minutes. Know where the minutes are filed!

One Caveat

In this day and age of high technology, you may ask yourself: Wouldn’t it be simpler to record the meeting? This depends on the protocols of the organization, but probably not.

Be sure to ask what the rules are at the organization where you are taking minutes. Remember that the minutes are a record of what was done at the meeting, not what was said at the meeting.

The minutes reflect decisions not discussions. In spite of their name, “minutes,” the minutes are not a minute-by-minute transcript.

Bottom Line

Becoming an expert minutes-taker requires a keen ear, a willingness to learn, and some practice, but by following these tips you will soon become proficient.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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