I wrote this article for Signal Speakers, my agents, and thought I’d share it with you. I hope you enjoy!
With the arrival of every new year comes the possibility for each of us to make changes for the upcoming year. Most of us want to better our lives so this is that time when we sit down and figure out what we want to do differently. We resolve to lose weight, find a better job, a girlfriend, boyfriend, or maybe even a husband or a wife. Sometimes our list of resolutions is as long as our Christmas shopping list. We approach these resolutions with determination and passion until…
…the dreaded after the holiday slump begins. When the excitement of presents and parties has fizzled, and the decorations have all been packed up and put away, the passion we have for those resolutions also fades. Then, for many, it’s just dreary, cold, and well, meh. Often by the time January 15th rolls around, the iron-clad determination that we started with is all but gone.
It’s important to remember that we don’t need New Years as an excuse to change everything in our lives all at once. Rather use this as a time to review unhealthy behaviors and so you can begin to make healthier lifestyle changes. Instead of feel-good yet empty resolutions, how about some measured, strategic plotting for the year ahead?
What is the secret to staying on course? The best way is to set goals and make them realistic. In other words, keep them achievable! Not very many of us could look like a supermodel by summer if we aren’t regularly working out already. Studies have shown that roughly 92% of New Year’s resolutions fail because they were unrealistic. By putting our faith in these ‘out there’ ideas, it can create a false hope that doesn’t line up with our internal view of ourselves. That is disaster.
Many of us throw ourselves headlong into our new resolutions only to feel overwhelmed, exhausted and defeated by month’s end. The reality is that we aren’t ready for wide, sweeping changes or we didn’t get the results fast enough. When these huge changes don’t bring us instant results, we revert back to old behaviors. In truth, it’s easier to slide back into the old behaviors (even if they’re unhealthy!) because we are comfortable with them. We know them.
So how do we set reasonable goals? Here are a few quick ways to turn this year into your best year yet:
Reflect on Last Year
A good place to start setting goals for the year ahead is to look back on what happened last year. The key here is balance. Write down the good things that happened but also the things you could have done differently. You’re the only person who is going to read this, so be honest, but don’t be hard on yourself. This is not a time to get bogged down in all the negative things that occurred, or beat yourself up for some of your behaviors. Learn from those things so you don’t have to repeat them! Look objectively at shortcomings and brainstorm about way to address them in the new year.
Write Them Down!
Did you know that your brain process information differently when your resolution or goal is on paper? Yes, you can put it on the computer, but paper helps cement it in our brains. Writing it down takes the goal out of the realm of ideas and makes it real. Writing it down gives it weight. There are several ways you can do this. You can use a calendar, day planner, spreadsheet, or a sticky note. In fact, write it down several places. The act of writing it down helps our brain remember it. Just make sure you put it in a place where you can see it every day. Trust me, this will help!
Start Small and be Specific
Your goals need to be manageable. If you can’t easily achieve steps toward the goal, you’ll lose motivation very quickly. So, if your goal is to exercise more, start small. If you aren’t regularly exercising now, maybe start with one day a week. Or you could schedule two or three days a week at the gym. But if you do no exercising now and you jump straight to trying to do it every single day, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. If you want to improve your diet, start with small changes there too. Maybe replace your dessert or snack with something like yogurt or fruit. This increases the likelihood of sticking with your goals rather than them turning into a punishment for you.
Perfection is impossible. Setbacks and missteps are completely normal. Don’t give up just because you had a piece of chocolate cake last night. (Confession: I did!) Or because you skipped the gym a couple days this week. Life sometimes gets in the way and generates ups and downs. Just resolve that you’ll learn from them and move on. The key here is not to let the speed bumps get you off course!
As we wrap up, just remember to give yourself grace, learn from your mistakes, and continue moving forward. Remember, it doesn’t take a new year or a holiday. Each new day is another chance to improve your life.
Oh, and anything worth achieving is worth the time it takes to accomplish it. Spread your resolutions out instead of cramming all of them into January. Phil Mickelson did not become a great golfer overnight. He made small changes every day to reach his goal of becoming one of the best golfers in the world. Making small deliberate changes every day is the key to lasting change.
If you would like to have me come and speak at one of your events, contact Signal Speakers at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in Life Coaching, email email@example.com for more information.