Do your New Years resolutions sometimes play out looking like this?
There is always next year, right?
Nor is there tomorrow or the next few minutes. But living your life too closely to this reality may backfire and it can be… rather, depressing!
Well, you are here NOW. And even within the realm of our impermanent state of being, one can (and I really hope does!) have dreams, create visions, explore possibilities, and design a life full of experiences that bring purpose, meaning and fulfillment.
So here comes January 1st again. Another New Year. Another “This year, I’m going to do it!” sometimes followed up later (often by March) to, “Well that didn’t happen”, which can lead to unpleasant thoughts and feelings of failure and disappointment towards self, often accompanied by some form of self-justification, “Well things came up”.
Why do this to yourself year after year?
It really doesn’t have to be this way. As a Life Coach, our role is to partner with you in helping you get from where you are now to where you want to be by identifying, establishing and implementing goals. I wanted to take some approaches and strategies to goal setting that I have observed and share with you 10 tips that I hope can help you set up your New Year’s resolutions (or any goal at any point in your life!) so your resolutions look more like this:
- Make them SMART: And I want to emphasize REALISTIC: Got a list of 10? Sure, maybe you’ll get to them, if they are realistic, timely, with a solid action and accountability plan. I notice however that all too often a list of 10 goals is created and none of them are reached as they are not realistic (too big or vague, untimely, not possible in the time allotted, etc.). Then there is the risk of giving up, not because it is not possible to carry out all 10 goals but because it’s just…. not SMART. I suggest brainstorming as many goals as you would like and then choose 2 to focus on. Those 2 need to align with your priorities, which are driven by your values. Choose wisely. Once you reach 1 goal, that measure of progress and feeling of success will ignite motivation, contributing to the outcome of meeting your other goals.
- Acknowledge ALL wins: There is no action too small to go unnoticed, unless you choose to minimize or neglect your effort. This can lead to discouragement. Take a moment everyday to reflect and ask yourself, “what is one thing I did today that contributes towards my goal?” Go ahead. Give yourself permission to acknowledge and validate your effort and dedication! And you can goo further by sharing this with someone too😊 (external recognition and acknowledge is important too!)
- Give yourself a chance. A REAL chance. When you feel like giving up on your goal, ask yourself, have I really given myself a genuine chance? Is there perhaps more strength inside me, that if I reach in, I can pull out and use? If a friend of yours was working towards the same goal and told you they wanted to quit, what would you say to them?
- Focus on progress, not perfection. Progress fuels motivation, which then fuels more progress and so forth and so forth. Ok, so maybe you didn’t quite reach your target when you wanted, or how you wanted, but did you measure your progress?
- Reframe stepping back: A step back is a step forward. You are stepping back from somewhere, so you were obviously on your way. Stepping back is proof of trying to carry out your intentions.
- Check your Habits: In order to reach a goal, you need to have supportive habits in place. This can be challenging as habits are often automatic behaviours and thoughts, so we don’t even realize we are doing them. Ask yourself, what habits do I have in place that are supporting my goal? Which ones are not supporting my goal? What new habits may need to be established and what old ones need to be change?
- Address procrastination: Procrastination is not about avoiding the task-its about avoiding the negative feelings and emotions associated with the task. Get to the route cause of why you may be putting something off-is it fear…of successful? anxiety? Self-doubt? This leads into the next tip of making sure to get help to address any underlying issues and areas in your life that may be getting in the way of your goals.
- GET support. Rarely do people ever reach their goal and say “yeah, it was all me!”. Look around you. What support do you need in place to help you reach your goal? Then ask for it and go get it.
- Be FLEXIBLE: Know when to let go. So maybe you set a goal and as you work towards it realize that it is something that does not mean that much to you (is it someone else’s goal for you? Does it align with your values?) or that it is unrealistic or untimely. Goals can and should be continuously looked at, examined, re-assessed and re-designed as you go along.
- Always go back to your WHY. Check in with yourself from time to time, whether you are well on your way too reaching your goal or not and ask, “why did I start this in the first place?”
You can always also re-examine your concept of a New Year. Why not use everyday as a new start? Every day, every moment that goes by, well, it’s potential opportunity. An opportunity to learn, to grow, to take one step forward. And it’s a moment you will never get back, so use it wisely.
It can be dangerous to use New Years as the only time to really set goals. There are 365 opportunities ahead (unless it’s a Leap year), and then some!
Or…. you could just start your goals all over again on another individuals New Year like the Chinese New Year, Iranian New Year, and so forth. January 1st is just A New Year but not THE New Year.
Now let’s Reflect, Learn and Act!
Reading this, how might you approach your goals differently this year?
What is ONE takeaway from this article that you feel may be a useful strategy to try out in your goal setting?
What has been a strategy YOU have used in the past that has helped you reach your goal?
If you were to create Tip #11, what would it be?
Happy Goal Setting!