Pardon my bluntness, but New Years Resolutions are bullshit. Why so much hate you ask? Because most people make them out of feelings of societal obligation (something I abhor), not because they actually WANT to change something. Sure, most people really do want to lose weight, exercise more, save more money, give up (insert your biggest vice here). But there’s a big difference between wanting something to happen and actually putting in the work in to make it happen. If you REALLY want something, nothing stands between you and the Thing. (Sidebar, same goes for people who say they’re “too busy”. Bullshit. You’re not too busy, you’re just prioritizing other Things). Resolutions often fall short at the part of doing the Action. But why does this happen so often?
All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” -Walt Disney
At my job we have this program called Re-Think (I work at a highly creative architecture & design firm). The goal of a Re-Think project is to pick a problem (say, the issue of abandoned retail sites and shopping malls across the country), then do a brainstorming deep dive to create a solution by looking at the problem from new angles and approaches that haven’t been done before, i.e., “re-thinking it”.
“They can’t order me to stop dreaming.” – Cinderella
Last year I set about a full-on self-improvement journey at the beginning of the year and pondered this very question, errr…. problem: Why do Resolutions go unResolved? That’s when I realized, we need to Re-Think the New Years Resolution! I mean, it’s basically the abandoned shopping mall of life. After a deep-dive and some serious self-reflection I realized there were two reasons I had never been successful at keeping Resolutions in the past.
First, the traditional way of creating resolutions that frames your life as if there is something “wrong” that needs “fixing” is so negative! It’s a full-on Debbie Downer way to start an achievement! If you start out a task with a negative mindset, you are almost guaranteed to fail or give up! Any self-improvement venture framed from a mental perspective of being inadequate is like beginning a race a mile before the starting line. Eventually the negative thoughts are going to win and you throw in the barely-used towel.
Second, most people will make the resolutions but don’t actually make a plan to implement them! Ok, you’ve decided you want to lose 10 pounds. How are you actually going to do that – eating healthier? Exercise? How often? The plan is crucial to keeping you on track. Think of it as your “road map” so you don’t get off course
.“The difference in winning and losing is most often not quitting.” -Walt Disney
So, how can I make meaningful change in my life and still keep it up beyond February? Then I had the “ah-ha!” moment. I decided that I would tackle my personal life the same way I make progress in my professional life: Goal Setting. Most of us didn’t get to where we are in our careers (or are making our way to!) by just waiting for stuff to happen. We set goals, made a plan for achieving those goals, and made it a priority to do so! Approach your New Years
Resolutions Goals with this mindset and you have set yourself up for success!
“Even miracles take a little time.” -The Fairy Godmother
The first thing I do at the start of a new year is sit down and map out my goals for the next 12 months. Put on your cozy sweats and settle in on the sofa with a cup of coffee. Spend some time reflecting, not on your past year’s failures, but instead on what you want your future to look like. Visualize it. Define what you need to get there. Then – very important – write it down in a journal or a note-taking app. Doesn’t matter where it is as long as you won’t lose it and can pick it up from time to time to re-visit and track your progress. I like to set 2-4 goals each year, depending on how big they are and how they fit into my life at the time.
Here are my key ingredients to successful goal-setting:
- Set goals that are measurable and achievable. Measurable meaning, what defines success of this goal to you? What’s your end-game look like? Write it down and be as detailed as possible. And achievable, meaning, be honest with yourself! Are you really going to go to the gym 5 times a week? Does your schedule even permit that? Set goals that aren’t so aggressive they are daunting when you think about them. The key to finishing any big project is consistently taking baby steps so don’t let yourself feel like your goals aren’t big enough. A smaller goal that you completed is better than a huge one you gave up on.
- Make a PLAN for how you will achieve each goal. Break the plan down into bite-sized pieces. For example, if your dream is to save up a down payment for a house, you might plan to start by setting a goal to save $3,000 in one year. To do this, I would need to put away $250 a month or $125 from each paycheck. You see? Bite-sized steps.
- CHECK IN on your goals quarterly. See how you’re doing. Make notes in your journal or app about your progress. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not quite where you wanted to be! Remember, this is about looking at the positives and not the negatives! You have time to make up progress or course-correct if you check in with yourself a few times a year. Last year I didn’t even start one of my goals until October but that was enough to get where I wanted to be by December 31st. Put a recurring reminder in your phone so you won’t forget when life takes over again.
And there you have it. I hope this can be helpful to you guys. Remember, we are all a work in progress! I hope you can use this guide to make progress toward achieving your own goals and clearing the cobwebs out of the abandoned shopping malls in your life!
Last year, my own personal goals were to pay off half my debt (check!), start my blog (you’re reading it, aren’t you?) and begin learning French again (je fais de bon progrès)!
My 2019 goals are to get completely out of debt by July, make my home “smarter” with technology, and become conversational in French so that I can speak fluently on my next trip to Paris (possibly in September).
What do you want to achieve in 2019? Let me know in the comments what you guys are dreaming of for your year! Remember, “If you can dream it, you can do it!”
À bientôt !
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