Why do we make New Year’s resolutions? Because they work, right? If you laughed when you read that, you’re not alone. Just because we make a resolution on January 1st doesn’t automatically mean it will stick. In fact, more often than not those New Year’s resolutions tend to fall off some time around … well, February.
This year, instead of changing what you resolve, how about changing why you want to make a resolution in the first place and then set your goal around that.
Changing the way you make your resolution and turning it into an achievable goal can help make it stick, until February and beyond.
What is a Resolution?
At the end of the day, it’s a goal. A milestone, something you wish to reach or attain. It’s what you want.
What Makes a Successful Resolution?
Success is something different. It can be a feeling that comes when you’re working towards the reason why, the motivation, behind your resolution or goal.
It’s that feeling you get when you reach your goal, when you once and for all put your resolution to bed. The good news is that success can happen every day, on the road to reaching your goal. When you’ve got clarity on your motivation behind the goal and you make steps towards it, each step comes with the feeling of success.
Visualize what you want your life to look like at the end of 2019. As Olympian Jamie Komer says :
Now, how do you get there?
STEP 1: Get Real With Yourself
- Think of a goal you had set for yourself in the past, yet did not achieve.
- Why did you set this goal in the first place?
- At the time, how did not achieving the goal make you feel?
- Looking at the motivation behind your goal, were you intrinsically or extrinsically motivated?
Think of why you did not achieve your goal. Was this goal as important to you as you originally thought it was? Did something change in your motivation? Take full accountability for this answer (displacing blame on the situation, a person, or other outside circumstance will not allow us to take full ownership of this learning experience).
Was there anything you learned about yourself from not achieving this goal? For example, how you respond to failure or learning what makes you happy?
STEP 2 : Set it – Prepare To Create And Set New Goals
What gets you excited?
A goal usually begins with the idea to experience something new, pursue a passion, or accomplish something audacious. What ideas get you excited, nervous, or energized?
Once you have an idea, ask yourself what the motivation is behind your goal. Why do I want to pursue this goal? Is it inspired by intrinsic motivation, extrinsic or both? This requires honesty on your part. (i.e. I want to race in an Ironman 70.3 in Europe or New Zealand. I want to race to see the country from a new perspective, because I love to be active and outdoors and because I want to challenge myself).
Remember, it’s okay to have a goal that’s extrinsically motivated (e.g. money, winning, fame, family approval, avoiding punishment). It is, however, important to be aware of the difference between the two. You may start to recognize a pattern in the success of your goals and the motivation behind them.
STEP 3: Write it down
Pen to paper, old school, write it down.
A big goal might take years to accomplish. Goals are meant to be challenging to reach, this will show you how much you truly want it. Set the date you will accomplish it by. Let’s start with this date as the end point in mind and work our way back.
Make it quantifiable: Any wishy-washiness in the measurability of your goal allows you to be wishy-washy in accomplishing it. This is why I’ve secretly forbade the use of the word “someday”.
Be specific and current: Articulate the details of the event, circumstance, activity of the goal. Use present tense.
Keep it in the affirmative language: Utilize the power of positive language by stating your goals in affirmative manner.
Short and sweet: Use as few words as possible, get down to the nitty gritty of your goal.
STEP 4: Achieve it
Create a list of milestones on the road to your goal.
Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to achieve this goal?” Create a list with an order of events and dates in which you’ll achieve each item by. Quantify what you will need to give up in order to achieve your goal – realise nothing happens without sacrifice and hard work e.g. if you want to lose weight, but have a 6 doughnut a day habit .. I guess you understand what I mean by what do you have to sacrifice in order to achieve your goal?
Write each item in the same format as your initial goal.
STEP 5: Take action
Stay accountable and stay motivated.
Practice personal accountability. The choices you make in every second of every day can take you closer to a goal or farther from it. How do YOU hold yourself accountable every day? Remember, your goal – your work, your reward.
Share away. Put your goal up on the fridge, share it with a friend and shout it out on a mountain top (seriously, saying a goal out loud can go a long way, literally). Where can you recruit, enrol, or ask others to help you with your goals? Is there a way you can empower them at the same time?
Notice I’ve been saying goal, not goals. Get clear on what you want and why you want it, then set your sights on one resolution, one goal around it. Say your goal is to lose weight. Good start. Now here comes the not-so-easy part. Knowing why that’s your goal, I mean really knowing why, even if it feels selfish or vain. That’s the kicker – getting clear on your motivation will help you not only define it, but also will help you to achieve it.
Whether you want to lose weight for your health or if you just really want to fit into those jeans again (yeah, you know the ones) that’s all gravy. But simply saying you want to lose weight, picking an arbitrary number (5, 10, 15, 20 kgs) and no end date (except, presumably by December 31 2019) will not help you reach any type of resolution. There’s no motivation behind it. Without the why it’s hard to get clear on how to get there.
Now, if your real why is that you want to fit into those jeans and wear them on your upcoming vacation because it is part of the perfect outfit for that day on the boat. You can see that day in your mind. You can see yourself there, see your family around, feel the smile on your face and taste the sea air, you want that feeling. Wearing those jeans is all a part of that experience and your motivation is the experience of sharing that happy day with your family or friends, while looking and feeling your absolute best. That’s a goal you can get behind and take action on. Once you have that clear goal it’s time to break it down into small changes, small milestones, you can do over time to help you reach it.
Simple Solutions to Stick to It
If When (yes – when) you uncover the why, the motivation, behind your resolution know that you’ve already achieved so much. That’s a huge step in the right direction. The next step is to take action and keep taking action. Take small steps, every day, to reach that goal. Do it for you. I have found that once I set a goal, I can stick to it by following these five steps:
Come from a place of love
Open up to the idea of self-love, it’s not just for yoga retreats and empowerment workshops. It’s for every day, real life. Take your motivation from a place of loving yourself and you’ll reach those goals because you want to. Remember again, your goal / your reward. You want to experience that feeling of feeling good about reaching your goal. Only you can do that!
Break it down to small, attainable steps
Set small steps you can take each day and build on them weekly to reach your goal. If your goal is to wear those jeans – take it one day at a time. Like addicts do it, count the days e.g. 3 days since I made myself a promise to fit into those jeans. 3 Days since I haven’t had even 1 sugary, bad doughnut .. and so on.
Replace what your giving up, with something healthy and good for you. Pick something you like or like doing. This is not an exercise in making yourself miserable. It is a time to kick some bad habits and learning new, healthier ones, that also enrich or enhance your life.
Know that you can do it
Yes, you can. Repeat after me…
I got this. I can do it.
A little louder now.
I got this. I can do it.
One more time, louder, for the people in the cheap seats. Say it.
I got this. I can do it.
Yeah you do and, oh kale yeah, you can.
Use the above tips or create ways of your own to stay accountable to your goal. My favourite way is to tell a friend your goal and the steps you’re taking to reach it. Ask them to also chose a goal and have a weekly “checki-in session” with each other to see how each are progressing
Select someone for this that you know will support you when you lose sight of your goal, someone who will also be right there to make sure you get right back on track. No judgment and no enabling.
Celebrate those successes. Each step, each green smoothie is a reason to celebrate.
What does your resolution look like this year? I’d love to hear from you – leave a comment.