The first month of 2017 is almost over, and the signs of a new year are all around us. Lattes are replaced with green smoothies, early morning exercise classes are full to capacity and the comfort food of the holidays, has been replaced with fish, salad and fruit-infused water.
But let’s address new year’s resolutions. Although, I now lean more towards ongoing goal setting over that jolt that most get, to make change at the first of the year. My reasoning? I prefer ongoing progress to temporary optimism and hard-to-maintain resolve.
If you’re consistently making progress, there’s no need to succumb to the thinking that January is magical and that anything you start at the first of the year, will surely be a success. You’re not going to lose the weight any differently or pay off debt any quicker, because you waited for the new year.
a firm decision to do or not to do something.
Translation: A resolution is a firm decision, YOUR decision, to do or not do something.
Because we associate the act of making a resolution with being firmly committed to a decision, when we don’t follow through, there are negative consequences. It effects our moral, our excitement and our commitment. When we resolved to not do something we feel guilt, when we fall off the wagon, and with those feelings comes embarrassment and eventually the whole resolution is down the tubes.
Setting attainable goals though, now that’s a different story. I’ve learned that I mentally (and emotionally) handle my progress towards goal achievement, much differently than I do sticking to annual resolutions. It’s because goals are the desired end result. It doesn’t always matter how I get there or if I stumble along the way. They’re amiable to my not-so-perfect plans and sometimes flawed process. Because of that, even when I get off track, or things aren’t going the way that I thought they would, it’s okay. I can just adjust my approach, revise the strategy and get back to it!
Ready to give up those resolutions and start setting goals… I’m giving you my top tips for making it happen!
1. Write them down… yes, ALL of them
You know how you normally set 3-5 new year’s resolutions? Not this year! Goals are different, you can set as many goals as you like: life goals, business goals, health goals, relationship goals. Write down as many goals as come to mind. This should not be a short list. Because you’re used to practicing restraint, when coming up with new year’s resolutions, this part of the process may be a little overwhelming for you. You may even start to think that you’re setting yourself up for failure. Don’t worry, that’s not what’s going on here. This exercise should cause you to dig deep. To really uncover the things that you want to change or accomplish for yourself.
Don’t allow yourself to get bogged down with the type of goals that you’re listing either. Not all goals are major life milestones. This is more of a practical bucket list. Think of the books that you’ve wanted to read, but haven’t. Think of that dance class that you’ve been wanting to take, but you keep telling yourself that you’re too old. Think of the places that you want to travel to. And when you’re done with that list, take it a little further. Get specific. Sure, I want to travel to Arizona. But I want to go to Sedona; specifically, because I want to scatter my mother’s ashes there, at the energy vortex. I want to go to back to Orange County,with my husband, because we didn’t get to spend near enough time on the beautiful Lagoona Beach, the last time that we were there. I plan to spend a new years eve in Paris… because it’s something that I’ve wanted to do for years.
The point is to not limit yourself. At all. Start writing, and really get into your dreams – the things that you really want out of life.
2. Save the date
When you’ve completed your goal list, consider when, at what point in your life, you could actually achieve them and attach a date to them. It’s great that I want to write 6 books this year, but if I don’t have deadlines and a solid date in place (for each one) it won’t happen. Or that I want to take a painting class, without a date, someday becomes never. An easy way to break down your goals is to categorize them by years. Section them by 1, 3, and 5 year goals. Then, list them accordingly, starting with your 1 year goals.
3. Set yourself up for accountability
Getting goals out of your head and on to paper (with deadlines), is a feat in itself. However, things really get fun – and very real – when you share them with people. Declaring your intentions to others, will actually motivate you to get started. It also means that you’ll have their support and that they’ll hold you accountable, to those achieving your goals. On that day, when you’re sore and are thinking about giving up your dance class, your best friend will know to ask how well it’s going. Or when you’re drooling at the thought of your mom’s peach cobbler for Thanksgiving, she’ll remember to replace it with grilled peaches instead, because you told her that you wanted to stop eating processed sugar, and carbs, as one of your 1 year goals.
4. Nothing is set in stone
Give yourself room for flexibility. If I planned to take up Spanish as my second language, but I find that I actually love learning French, guess what? It’s ok, just revise your goals. If you wanted to lose 60 pounds, but when you got to 40, you actually loved your new body… guess what? It’s okay. Change that 60 to 40 on your list, and cross that bad boy off!
Side note: Don’t use this example to get out of staying committed to your goals. Don’t short change yourself, go all the way. This not the time to use a loophole to take it easy on yourself or lower your expectations!
5. Get Clear
Set aside some time, a few weeks after you’ve completed your goal list, to review what you’ve written down. Ask yourself ‘why’ you want to accomplish each one. Do a gut check if your motive isn’t right; like, wanting to buy a BMW to show up your sister, who bought a new car. These goals should be meaningful for you, based on things that you don’t want to miss out on, in your life, and not because you’re in competition with others.
I love to explore new things and experience new places, so a large portion of my goals will center around travel. It’s fulfilling for me to venture into unchartered territory, even more fulfilling than buying an expensive piece of jewelry or eating lobster for dinner. You have to tap into what makes your heart race. That thing that gets you excited, just at the thought of it. You may find that other goals are birthed out of your desire to follow your heart.
Don’t limit yourself.
Give yourself permission to dream extravagantly. Allow those dreams to create the goals that you set for yourself and soon your dream life, will become your real life.