Happy New Year! It’s that time again. It’s the season for vision boards, desire maps, and visualizing your future successes. Gym memberships will see a huge spike (per usual), as will various addiction-themed groups, and the forgive/forget/organize/improve/live/love vagueness is at an all time high.
Unfortunately, statistics show that only 8% of the population is successful at keeping their resolution. How can you revamp your resolutions so that you’re part of that 8%? By taking the following actions…
1. Start with a review of your previous year.
Don’t rush right into making resolutions without taking stock of the previous year. Make a list of accomplishments from 2014. What kind of person did you have to be in order to accomplish those feats? What worked for you and what didn’t? What obstacles did you face in implementing your resolutions? Reviewing the previous year helps you to better understand what you need to focus on and improve and perhaps what you need ditch.
Implement a cyclical review for 2015. Take a look at your calendar and mark times to review your progress—be it monthly, quarterly, or maybe centered around some big events you have planned during the year. Waiting a full year to review is too long. You want to make sure you have up-to-date data and a fresh memory so you can continually improve.
2. Get specific and get real.
Many people aren’t successful with their resolutions because the resolution is vague. What’s your actual accomplishment? How will you know you achieved the goal? Don’t be afraid to articulate a specific goal, even if you’re afraid you won’t achieve it. And notice I said real, not “realistic.” I think it’s important to get real with yourself, and set goals that align with what you actually want, instead of what you feel like you’re supposed to want or that you can “realistically” achieve.
Vague resolutions may seem easier to accomplish, as they give wiggle room. Specificity sets a target in our minds and feels more restrictive. However, as Parkinson’s Law points out, a task expands to fill the time allotted for completion. For example, one of my resolutions last year was to “research how to make a blog.” Does that mean spend one minute on the Internet? Do a little research everyday? How was I supposed to know if I accomplished the goal? I wouldn’t, so I amended it to “start a blog by the end of the year.” Then I noticed myself dragging my feet because I knew I had until the end of the year. I amended it to, “start a blog by March 31st.” I launched the first week of March.
3. Give yourself the power.
I think this is the most important step. Most goals depend upon or are based on other people’s actions and decisions, or something outside of your control. However, to be successful at accomplishing your goals, you have to rely on yourself.
Instead of saying “I want to get 100 paying customers by the end of the first quarter,” change it to, “I will reach out to 100 customers by the end of the first quarter.” If you’re in the sales or service industries, you have customers. And you want to make your customers/clients/etc. happy. So you want to make goals that revolve around them. But you are doing yourself a disservice by setting a goal over which you have no control. Focus on upholding your end of the deal and see the magic that ensues.
4. Identify your WHY.
Dig a little deeper: Why do you want to achieve this goal? What will it mean to you? You may have to ask why several times to get to the bottom of the matter. Your “why” will be your motivation on the not-so-good days. Most people focus much of their energy on HOW they will accomplish a goal. But understanding your “why” will not only inspire and motivate you to persevere, it will also give your goal meaning and clarify if it’s really what you say you want.
5. Plan ahead.
At some point during the year, you will not feel like doing what you promised yourself. If you know that will happen, why not plan for it? Since you’ve done your review for 2014, you know what you want to avoid. You’ll understand your triggers. But you’ll also know how to react to a funk and how to get out of one. During your scheduled reviews, it’s OK to amend your resolution based on what you know about yourself and what has happened. In addition, be gentle, be nice, and be kind to yourself.
6. Set up a support network.
We all need people encourage, support, and hold us accountable. As part of planning ahead, you’ll need help along the way. Identify certain people you can count on to motivate you, be your drill sergeant, or offer words of comfort. Let them know ahead of time you’ll be counting on them. They can be anyone—spouse, family member, close friends, or co-workers. You may also choose to hire someone, like a life coach, nutritionist, or personal trainer. Whoever it is, make sure you can really trust them. And also, don’t forget that you must still hold yourself accountable. You’re your own first go-to in your support network.
Remember: resolutions are supposed to focus on the positive. By anticipating the reality that you will have a few bad days or weeks (which is inevitable), you can proactively combat the obstacles and struggles you may face. Figure out how to work through feeling less than 100%. What baby steps or progress can you make even when you’re tired? And don’t be afraid to ask others for help! While you’re in control and self-accountability matters, the more people you get on board to root for you, the merrier!
Stephanie is the founder and life coach of Cultivated Sense, a movement that promotes ordinary ways to live extraordinarily and encourages people to stop settling in life and love. She’s also the Director of Logistics for the Paul C. Brunson Matchmaking Agency, an award-winning boutique matchmaking and lifestyle coaching agency. She loves helping people through life transitions and empowering them to cultivate their own sense of how to manage their daily lives. You can find more about Stephanie at www.cultivatedsense.com or on Twitter: @CultivatedSense.