New Year, New Resolutions, New You, Oh My!!
A helpful 5 step guide to setting goals in the New Year!
I would like to dedicate this article to Dr. Aaron Benes, The Complete Coach! This article was written with him in mind and reflects his teachings and practices I have learned from him over the years. Without whom I wouldn’t have discovered who I truly am. Thank you for everything.
New year, new resolutions, new you, oh my!! It’s that time of year once more, where I come face to face with January 1st. A time where pure optimism flourishes and anything seems possible. For once, it looks like anyone and everyone is open and ready for change. Bring on the New Year’s Resolutions!
Let’s begin. January 1st comes and goes; you have your resolutions tentatively mapped out for 2020, you feel unstoppable! This, this will be the year you keep and complete those pesky resolutions! You have your eye on the prize. Week one, presented a few challenges, but nothing you can’t handle. Week two was surprisingly easier. Week three, a few bumps, but I think I might be creating some new habits. Yippee! Week four, ugh, fine. Week five, I’m busy. Week 6, just no. And there we have it, folks, by mid-February my resolutions have crashed and burned. But I’m not alone. Did you know that 80% of people fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions?
First, phew! Thank goodness, I’m not alone. Everyone fails at this, so it’s okay for me to fail too. There it is, that ever-famous herd mentality. Where we simultaneously give ourselves validation, and let ourselves off the hook for ‘doing’ or ‘not doing’ something based on the sheer fact that other people ‘did’ or ‘didn’t’ do it too. I have most definitely been privy to this phenomenon. Allowing myself to shrug off choices and actions I’ve made because I can find solace in knowing that other people have done it too.
What I’ve come to learn is that that kind of thinking is debilitating. In that, in doing so, I forfeit personal accountability. I stop asking myself the more serious questions, starting with, why? In this case, why did I fail to keep my resolutions?
So, if you’re still with me, I’d like to share some tips, tricks, and fun antidotes about setting, keeping, and accomplishing your goals! Now, do you see what I did there? I said, goals! Not resolutions!
Step 1: Replace the word resolution with goal.
Resolution. Such a strong, demanding word. Even the root of the word, resolve, makes it sound daunting. Like, “you must have a resolution in your life to succeed! You must resolve, control, and harness the very epicenter of your being this New Year!” I say to myself in the voice of a royal elder as they speak to the heir of the throne. And inner me is just staring fixedly at my coffee cup as anxiety builds, like “ahhh, whoa… okay… no… I don’t think so… I’m good.” So take the word resolution out of the equation. Take away the weight that that word presents and replace it with goal. It already seems less threatening and more manageable.
Step 2: Start small and be specific!
Don’t go crazy and try to reinvent the wheel! Or yourself for that matter. It’s easy to get carried away. Your mind starts racing with the thoughts of positive change and a new you conquering the world. But when we start making big, broad, bountiful goals or we try stacking too many goals at once, we become overwhelmed, we don’t know where to start, and then everything just seems hard and unmanageable. So stay focused, stay small, and stay specific. You can always add more later. When you set identifiable small goals and complete them, you feel good; it’s like a return on investment, and you realize you can do it!
Step 3: Make your goals personal, positive, and meaningful to you.
What’s the point of working hard and keeping a goal if it doesn’t mean anything to you? Let’s be real. If you set a goal that you don’t really care about or are just jumping on the goal bandwagon with your friends, you are 99.9% not going to be accomplishing that goal. Now, I just made up that statistic. Still, from experience, I can tell you if your goals aren’t personal and meaningful to you, you rarely ever genuinely commit to them and probably won’t put much effort into accomplishing them.
Make your goals yours. You are you for a reason, so throw out Debbie’s goals of wanting to “get in shape and travel more” and find your voice. Reflect on your life, what you’re interested in changing or getting better at, what you’ve always wanted to do and never done, what you want to accomplish. When you have a personal connection to a goal, you’re more likely to stay committed to it.
Lastly, try to stay away from ‘negative’ self-talk. Make sure that the goals you set are positive. Instead of saying something like, “I want to stop being messy” or “I want to stop eating sugar,” make your goal more positive by saying, “I will be more organized,” or even better, “I will use the last 15 minutes of my day to clean and organize my space.” There you have a positive, small, specific, and measurable goal.
For the other, replace “I want to stop eating sugar,” with “I will create a more balanced and healthy lifestyle.” The word stop implies that you have to stop yourself from doing something and thus use willpower to make a different choice. Knowing that willpower does not have an unlimited supply, saying “stop” can put you in a position in which you feel like you have to make the “right” choice all the time, and that can be draining. Don’t make things harder on yourself. Create goals that are about you becoming better and stronger, not about you trying to change something you don’t like about yourself.
Step 4: Write them down (and look at them!)
Our brains are magical and are home to a plethora of information, but as amazing as the mind is, it can get bogged down, tired, and just plain forgetful, especially as life picks up and gets busy. This one has my name written all over it. I love my brain. I rely on my brain so much that I hate writing things down! And to me, I figure, my brain’s sharp. It retains stuff! I don’t need no paper to tell me my goals!
Well, I do… and here’s where the self-accountability comes into play. In previous years, I never blamed myself for not completing a goal. I run through all the excuses: I was swamped! Well, at least I did x, y, z. I got way further than so-and-so. No one else stuck with it, and yadda yadda. But the truth is, I wasn’t holding myself accountable, I wasn’t making my goals a priority, and I didn’t set myself up for success.
One of the easiest things you can do to set yourself up to succeed is to write your goals down and then actually look at them! There’s something about writing them down that makes them more real. Write it out on index cards and tape it to your mirror, put it in your car, in your bathroom, on your front door, anywhere you look regularly. Surround yourself with your goal. When you see it, stop and really read it with confidence and determination.
Step 5: Don’t discount the process.
A process is a series of steps and actions you take to complete something–in this case, your goal. Accomplishing your goal will be a process. Part of the process is what we’ve talked about, setting a small, specific, and measurable goal. Once you’ve identified your goal, writing it down and integrating it into your life. Not only does writing it down include the goal itself, but also thinking through and writing out the steps you need to take to accomplish your goal. Understanding and acknowledging why this goal is important to you and what it will be like when you achieve it are all necessary components in making your goal a reality.
And lastly, it goes back to not reinventing the wheel. Research and don’t be afraid to ask or look for help! You are not alone. You have resources at your fingertips—the internet, family, friends, mentors, autobiographies, TED Talks, and forums are just some of the many resources at your disposal where you can gain valuable insight about how to accomplish your own goal. Learn about the process that others went through and how you can integrate that into your own to succeed. There is no clear-cut process that works for everyone, so don’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole. Yes, it takes time, but find a process that is your own, that works for you, and be patient and kind to yourself. You will get there. I know it.
We’ve talked about setting goals and accomplishing them. Now it’s time to put it all into practice. I will also be doing this myself. I have already established a few goals, and if I may share, they are to refocus my energies on educational enrichment and read 6 books in 2020. To declutter and keep my physical spaces clean and organized. And lastly, to perform at an open mic night.
If there’s one piece of advice I’d like you to take away from this, it’s that there’s no straight path to success. Life is a bumpy road, full of twists and turns, ups and downs, and experiences that shape who you are. Don’t discount the journey or process something takes in your life. Hold yourself accountable, forgive often (that includes yourself!), and believe this, there is no such thing as failure, only opportunities for growth. If you embody that, anything is possible.
Happy goal setting!
Once again a huge shoutout to Dr. Aaron Benes, The Complete Coach. Aaron is not only someone I hold very dear to my heart, a true friend; he is also my physical training coach, life coach, business coach, emotional, mental and spiritual coach and mentor, as well as someone I look up to with the utmost respect.
I have been working with Aaron for years, and still do, both in physical training and transformational life coaching. And let me tell you my life has not been the same since I started working with him. My life has transformed into the life of my dreams. Aaron has helped me grow, evolve, and become the person I always wished I was, and now I am.
If you are looking to elevate yourself, take your life to the next level, and be your best! Call Dr. Aaron. He will open you to discoveries you never thought possible and help you become, and be your best in every way.