The first month of the New Year is almost over. Statistically, this is also the time people start to fail to follow through on their New Year resolutions. It is said that 80% of people fail at their resolutions by mid February. It is also stated on average just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s Resolutions.
Now I don’t want that statistic to make you question why bother setting them at all, because just taking the time to think about what you want and writing it down (important step) increases your chance of completing it.
If you are interested in increasing your success rate in achieving your New Year’s resolutions and goals here are some ideas to help you do that.
Step 1: Conduct an Annual Review
When resetting yourself for the New Year, it’s especially important to take time to review and reflect on the year before. Taking time to process and think about where you are helps you not only decide where you choose to be in the future but gives you a place to record where you are so you can see the progress you have made moving forward.
Being able to see progress in what gets accomplished keeps people motivated and is an important part of success. Knowing you have this ritual of reviewing yourself every year motivates you even more to achieve the resolutions and goals you set for yourself.
Here are some ideas for conducting your own annual review:
It’s important to set up a process of reviewing the same things regularly in a system that works best for you. Scheduling your review as a recurring event in your calendar each year is one way to help insure success.
When setting a system, you want to customize it so it works the way you work best. Personally I’m a digital person (mainly because I can’t read my own handwriting) so I like to use google forms. I can set my questions in the form, fill out the answers, and everything gets tracked in a spreadsheet making it really easy to review.
Questions you could ask yourself at the end of the year:
If you are someone who prefers a planning and review system that is already set up for you and you just have to follow along, I highly recommend the Artist of Life Workbook by Aileen Xu who runs the highly inspirational YouTube channel Lavandaire as well as a podcast called The Lavendaire Lifestyle. This workbook will not only walk you through a review of your previous year but also help you create your vision, break down goals for the different areas of your life, design your habits and so much more to help you set your year up for success. It comes in both a hardcopy version and a digital version that can either be printed or filled out electronically.
Step 2: Choose what Goals or New Year’s Resolutions you’d like to Set
Are you someone who completes a high percentage of the goals and resolutions you set for yourself? Or are you someone who sets them but in the back of your mind almost already knows that you are probably not going to follow through?
To that I would say you probably need to change the way you look at them and set them. You may even want to change what you call them to give them a fresh light in your subconscious mind.
Instead of calling them resolutions, you could call them intentions and/or commitments. If you are not fond of the term “goals,” you could call them targets and/or desired outcomes.
I like to set intentions for everything I would like to do in the year and commitments for the most important things I choose to do and/or change in the year. You can set as many intentions as you want, but do not over-set your commitments. Those should be saved for the most important things that you know would have the biggest positive impact on your life once you achieve them.
Another way I use these terms is by setting targets for all the things I would like to get done in a year that I have control over as well as desired outcomes I would like to see that I don’t have the same amount of control over.
For example, let’s say you want to lose weight. You could set a target for working out 5x a week 30 minutes a day which you have complete control over then set a desired outcome to lose 15 pounds. You do not have complete control over whether or not you lose the weight but if you hit your targets it is probable that you will.
Another example, if you are a sales person that wants to double their income this month you could set the target to double the amount of people you reach out to every day (something you control) and set the desired outcome for the exact amount of money you intend to make.
If at the end of the year you hit your targets but did not get your desired outcome, you can then reevaluate and tweak your targets but still feel proud of yourself because you did what you said you were going to do and followed through. Instead of feeling bad about yourself for the things that were not completely in your control.
Step 3: Know What, Why, and How
You may already be familiar with setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, which commonly stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
That’s a great start, but in addition I like to break down my Goals (or whatever you choose to call them) from the perspective of What (Desired Outcome), Why and How (Targets/Strategies).
Using the same example of losing weight, because I know that ends up on most people’s New Year’s resolutions list, I will show you here a way to break it down.
Desired Outcome (What): Lose 15 lbs by December 31st 2018.
Why: Because I know losing this weight and the actions I take to lose it will keep me healthy and help me avoid future health problems. Losing this amount of weight will improve my confidence, I will feel proud of myself for accomplishing this, and I will have integrated new healthy habits that have the potential to last me a lifetime of staying fit and healthy. Not to mention how great I will look and how good I will feel.
How: My primary target to lose weight is to exercise 5x a week for 30 minutes a day.
Strategies: Create list of healthy meal and snack ideas that I can reference, create weekly meal plan and meal prep every Sunday, cut out soda, limit takeout to 1x a week, get workout equipment needed or join a gym, create workout schedule so I know what I am doing and when I am doing it, keep healthy snacks in my purse.
As you can see in this example the desired outcome is set and still hits the S.M.A.R.T goal criteria. Knowing why is such an important and often-missed step in the goal setting process. And it is probably the most important step in keeping you motivated and on track! It’s not enough to just set a goal, it is also important to set targets and strategies to how you will achieve it. Even if it is a large goal where you are not sure of all the steps needed yet, start by listing out some small steps you can take that will move you in the right direction. It is a good idea if you set commitments to break them down in this format as well but instead of calling it a desired outcome call it a commitment. Commitments should be things you have complete control over.
Step 4: Review Regularly
Taking the time to set resolutions, goals, or whatever you choose to call them and breaking down the why, what and how is pretty much useless if you are not consistently reviewing them.
You need to set a routine where not only are you reviewing things annually, but that you’re also reviewing and tracking certain things on a daily, weekly, and quarterly basis.
Set a system that works best for you. Daily is best but you may not want to review everything daily, just what is most important to you. Then, set time each week. I like to do this on Sunday mornings, where I go over everything I did that week, review all the targets and strategies I set for myself and use those to plan the week ahead. Every quarter, do the same thing but on a larger scale where you set smaller targets and desired outcomes that will help you reach your larger goals.
When you are reviewing your desired outcomes it is important to visualize your success and feel how you would feel once accomplished. Doing so is programing your brain to help make it a reality.
Step 5: Track your Progress
Tracking your progress can be a big motivating factor for you to follow through. We tend to put a lot more effort into tangible things we can see the results in as opposed to things we can’t.
By tracking what you do, you are much more likely to actually do it.
Create a system that works best for you in terms of tracking the things that are important to you.
I like to create a spreadsheet. Running down the left-hand side I have the activities and habits I choose to do daily and across the top I have the days of the week. I then go through my day, giving myself points as things get completed. At the end of the week I enter my points into a spreadsheet so I can keep score. There are also apps that track things for you that you can use, or you can mark things down in your journal and planner. Use whatever method works best for you.
Some highly rated apps that offer free versions are: Habit Bull available for IOS and Android. Habitica which is also on IOS, Andriod and Web turns habit building into a game. HabitHub is another highly rated one available on Android and Productive is a highly rated one for iPhones.
In addition to tracking my daily habits, at the end of each day I like to ask myself three quick questions and write down the answers. What I accomplished that day, what I experienced that day, and how am I feeling that day. These help me when doing my weekly and quarterly reviews to remember everything that I did.
I really hope that these steps and strategies help you in setting goals and New Year’s resolutions that stick!
To truly live your life to the fullest it’s important to spend some time planning and the rest of the time living!
“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” – Alan Lakein
Please remember you don’t need a fresh start to a year to make changes and create the life of your dreams. If you are not happy where you are use any excuse and any day to start over. The important thing is when you do get off track, ask yourself why, forgive yourself, build some new strategies to help in the future and get back on!
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