3…2…1…Happy New Year! For some people this may be a fearful, uncertain time, but for most people this time of year symbolizes hope and a fresh start. People look forward to what the new year will bring and start making plans for all that they will accomplish which is usually done by making resolutions. We all know how this goes. January 1 rolls around and everyone is getting fit, saving money, eating less, kicking bad habits, starting good ones, blah, blah, blah. By February 1 most of these resolutions have been forgotten and old habits have kicked back in. Now I’m not being judgmental or facetioius because I, too, have been guilty of making lofty goals year after year, only to declare that the next year will be different, that I will reach all of my goals, and nothing’s going to get in my way. I am eager, enthusiastic, fearless, and hopeful. I can do anything!
We all know how this ends.
I’m not saying that it’s a bad idea to make goals or resolutions for the new year; actually, I think it’s a brilliant idea. But just like the luster of any new thing can wear off after a while, so does the appeal of your goals once you have to put the work in to maintaining them. Just think of the excitement you felt when you got your first job and all you had to do was use your paycheck on whatever you wanted to buy at the mall or some junk food you could grab on the way home from school. Do you still feel the same way about your job now? Probably not.
What I’ve discovered this past year is that in order to stick with your resolutions you need to have a bit of a mind shift with how you approach the entire task. This year (2017) has been the best for me with sticking to and achieving the goals that I set out for myself, and I plan to duplicate this for the new year. I thought I’d share with you what worked for me in hopes that it can inspire you to make and achieve your own goals. Here are the steps that I took.
- Change your perspective from making resolutions to creating a vision for your future. This past year when I sat down to make my plans I changed from just making a bunch of separate resolutions to actually thinking about who I wanted to be by the end of the year. What changes did I want to make? What did I want to maintain? What new things did I want to try? I must admit that when I went into this I was unhappy with a few areas in my life and was seeking to change how I felt, so I think this really helped me to look at how I made my resolutions a lot differently. I really wanted to spark a change in my life. I think this approach worked even better, and I will be asking myself again, “Who will 2018 Michelle be? What will be her story? What will she accomplish and how will she do this?” Think of the bigger picture for your future and figure out how this year will fit into that complete picture. How will this year’s goals make you the man or woman you want to be overall?
- Find a great accountability partner or two or three. This. This right here. This has got to be one of the MOST important things that I did. Going it alone will not work. Although there are some people who are extremely motivated by themselves, I believe all people benefit from having a person whom they can bounce ideas off, who will give them good advice, who will give them a good kick in the you know what when it’s needed. For me, that came in the form of my friend, Catheline. We held each other accountable throughout the year; not only did we sit down and create our visions for the year together, we also scheduled regular check-ins, in person and over the phone, to help keep each other focused on our goals. Knowing that I had to give an account to someone else about what I was doing pushed me to work harder and stay on track. Find that person (or people) for yourself and then be that same type of person for someone else.
- Create goals that make sense for your life, not based on what others are doing or want you to do. I will admit that a couple of goals that I started off working towards at the beginning of this year came more from what I saw and loved about other people’s lives rather than things that would work for me. They were highly successful at what they were doing and I figured that I could emulate what they were doing, and I would be just as happy. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. The goals that went well for me were those that truly focused on my strengths and interests. When I applied what others were doing that helped them to be successful to what mattered to me, the results were fantastic. Try to apply this to your own goals. For example, if you want to get in shape and you look to your friend who runs miles every day to stay in shape as motivation but the idea of running is as appealing to you as getting a colonoscopy, don’t do it. Find the exercise that works for you. So what if people scrunch their noses up when you tell them your new tight buns and thighs come from that pole dancing class you take three times a week? If it works for you, do it. Live your dream, not anyone else’s. Set goals that speak to your soul even if it others can’t understand your vision.
- This should be obvious, but it needs to be said: Be realistic with your goals. Although it is possible, you probably won’t become a millionaire this year or pay off your $100,000 credit card debt or marry Prince Charming with a fairy tale wedding. It’s good to make goals; it’s bad to set yourself up for failure by making unrealistic ones. You can probably set out to make more money than you did last year or put a dent in your credit card balance and raise your credit score or even commit to signing up on a dating website so that you can meet more people. This year I made my plans with a yearlong timeline in my head. What did I think I could accomplish in 365 days? Some of my goals dealt with a long-term vision for my life, but when I wrote down my resolutions, I focused on what I could accomplish within that year. That’s it. Believe me, it’s lot less scary that way. Make goals like teachers are told to teach their lessons: break things down into digestible bites. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
- Create action steps or checkpoints for each goal. Make this visual and put it somewhere you can see it every day. You’ll never really know if you’re on track if you’re not tracking your progress. For each goal, I tried to have mini-goals or actions that I needed to take to make that happen. For example, I wanted to lose weight, but just saying I’m going to lose weight and actually having a plan for how I was going to achieve this were two different things. I knew I had to exercise 3-4 times a week, decrease my carb intake, and drink more water. I also gave myself a realistic goal weight because again saying I want to lose weight and I want to lose 10 pounds are two different things. Writing this all down made reaching my goals even easier, and this was my favorite part of the entire process. Some people make checklists; others create vision boards. My friend and I decided that we needed something tangible that we could carry around with us as a reminder of our goals. We decided to create Vision or Dream Books instead of vision boards. I love my Vision Book because it’s small, portable, and I can write in it, add information, change ideas, take notes, and reflect on my progress. (I will post details about my Vision Book in my next blog post). However you decide to do it, write down your goals, steps to get to that goal, and dates for reaching those steps and achieving your goals. Post it by your bedside, on your desk, on a mirror, or carry it in a Vision Book like I do. Just make sure you have a way to track your progress that you can easily see every day.
My prayer for myself this year is for 2018 to be just as good as 2017 was (or even better).
I also pray that you will create attainable goals for yourself based on the vision you have for your life and that you will have a beautiful, fruitful, and prosperous 2018! Happy New Year!
I look forward to hearing your goals for this year and how you plan to achieve them! Feel free to comment below!