Happy New Year!
New Year is a time of rebirth and growing, of starting anew. It also comes with its own share of trials and things to dread. Setting up goals for the coming 12 months helps to focus the mind positively and promote wellbeing.
That said, working out a good plan for your resolutions will prevent the stress and guilt that comes with breaking them early. Here, we’ve collected a few tips to give you a more stable set of promises to keep in 2016.
1. Set achievable goals
The absolute worst thing you can do for yourself is make an impossible goal for improving yourself, fail to achieve it, and then feel guilty whenever it’s brought up.
The first mistake people make when they make a New Year’s resolution is reaching for the sky. By all means, challenge yourself to be a better you, but be reasonable! Allow yourself time for unforeseen events and to easily fit things into your daily schedule.
Instead of setting yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic goals (e.g. “I want to be a size 3 by June!”), set yourself actionable goals on a shorter term basis (e.g. “I want to lose 3kg a month by eating healthily and exercising daily”).
Notice how the latter is simpler, more achievable, and even has a way by which you can reach the goal. Leaving yourself a big, looming overhead is a good way to never get started on a daunting task. Leaving yourself a plan of action gets your mind working on the day-to-day tasks to achieve the goal instead.
2. Quantify your progress
Draw up a plan. Do it now if you’d like (but you should probably finish reading the rest of the article first).
Divvy up your resolution into bite-sized chunks. If you have a promise that’s easy to translate into numbers, like taking more trips with your family, make a log of how often you do it so that you know when you’re sticking to the goal.
If your resolution is a bit harder to get a numerical value on, like spending more time with the kids, just mark off every so often whether you’re holding your ground, and whether you feel stronger in that promise (and in what you’re trying to achieve by spending more time with them) every so often.
Getting a feel for the success of your plan is important. It gives you a little moment of pride and motivation in sticking to the plan, or a little moment of panic if you haven’t stuck to it, which may help you try to achieve your goals better.
3. Make one of your goals a healthy lifestyle
On top of the goals you’ve chosen, I want you to do a little something extra. Make a promise to yourself: little by little, each year, allow yourself to live a more healthy and holistic lifestyle.
Eat just a little less junk food, exercise a little bit more, switch up your diet to have a little less cholesterol. A tiny, tiny change at the start of each year will pile up over the course of your life. One less serving of junk food a month won’t start cravings, but it’ll certainly help you to start cutting down in the long-term.
4. Make your goals something you can control
This is important.
Don’t make your promises anything that you can’t directly control.
You can’t be responsible for things outside of your sphere of influence. This ties in with your making your resolutions achievable; don’t make them something that the world has influence on rather than yourself.
A personal goal, such as weight loss, self improvement, adopting a new healthy habit, or stopping yourself from doing something unhealthy, is miles better than, say, promising to yourself that your company will grow by 12% this year.
Even the biggest wolf on Wall Street can’t directly control how the stock market will rise and fall, how much consumers want to spend, and ultimately how much growth there is to go around. If you’re going for a resolution in your business life, try and make it something about you. Think more along the lines of “I’ll have the best sales technique in the office” than “I’ll make 20% more sales”. Work on the former and the latter will follow.
In the same way, you can’t change other people. The only time you should make a plan that involves other people (“I want me and my partner to both start cycling!” is when you’ve consulted them and made the resolution together.
There’s nothing worse than not being able to make your goal because someone else isn’t trying for their own, or if it wasn’t something they wanted in the first place.
5. Reward yourself!
Now I’m not saying that in celebration of giving up sugar for a month you should pig out on all the lollies you can grab, but when you succeed you should give yourself a resounding pat on the back.
This back pat can take the form of just about anything you want. Get a relaxing massage, treat yourself to a meal, or maybe even take a stealthy bite of someone’s chocolate (don’t go mad now) for a job well done.
A New Year’s resolution can have the potential to get bogged down on meeting your goals, slogging it through hardship, and can overall just focus too much on the negatives.
When you reach a goal, celebrate the positives! After all, you surpassed your expectations. You deserve a little reward.
Don’t get too distracted if you miss next month’s goals. Use your moment of pleasure as a catalyst; enjoy yourself and you’ll be looking forward to meeting your goals again next month.