Create New Years Resolutions That Don't Suck and are Mega Fail-Proof |
I, like most of us, have messy mixed feelings about New Year's Resolutions and goal-setting. The cynic in me always has to acknowledge that we can set a goal or enact a resolution any old time.
Why hang our hat on New Year's, huh? Using this arbitrary date as a globally-imposed jumping off point for FINALLY GETTING TO THE GYM or TURBO-CHARGING THAT JOB SEARCH or CHANGING MY SHEETS ON A REGULAR ADULT BASIS feels like a fake-out.
Cause how many of us set grand intentions for the year ahead only to lose momentum three weeks in and revert back to last year's boring habits that never got us anywhere? This stuff is daunting, dammit.
But having had loads of experience overcoming resolution-resistance and coaching others in goal-slaying, I've developed some pretty baller New Year's Resolution Hacks. So if you have a hard time seeing your goals past January 18th, keep reading.
1) Who are you kidding; set no more than two (maaaybe three).
Typical New Years Resolution list:
- Lose 15 lbs.
- Increase income to $55k.
- Write the book.
- Drink less.
- Love myself more.
- Learn to ski.
- Learn to cook.
- Speak more Italian.
Wow, this list is great. This list is beautiful! What remarkably thoughtful, specific intentions to set for the year ahead.
Here's the issue: I'm already overwhelmed.
You're just a person with 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. I imagine you already have a life that's pretty busy with work you need to do, loved ones to check in with, friends, hobbies, bills you need to pay, yadda yadda what-have-you.
If looking at your list of resolutions is already stressing you out, there's no way you'll be able to accomplish all you intend to.
You're better off choosing two (maybe three!) important things you'd love to tackle, tops. This isn't lazy or half-assy, it's smart.
Focus on slaying those few goals with grace, precision, and tenacity. Avoid (at all costs) flailing around in frustration as you attempt to focus on 6-8 different things, only to get super disappointed because you couldn't make it happen. No, we must not succumb to NYE Resolution Hangovers. Not on my watch, anyway.
2) Focus on mastery, not achievement.
This one sounds kinda fancy and complicated but it's actually pretty simple. Let's re-frame any big, daunting, nasty goals into something more palatable, shall we?
Achievement-based goals sound like:
- Lose 15 lbs.
- Increase income to $55k.
- Write the book.
You know you've created an achievement-based goal when you can imagine a little box next to it that remains un-checked. Eventually you hope to cross it off in extra thick sharpie. "I hit 55k! CHECK! Dunzo, bitches!!!"
But come on, life is never done. Goals are never done. There will always be more you are wanting to do/be/have/etc.
People who consistently succeed in setting high marks for themselves (and hitting them) are more interested in self-development and mastering something new than checking a boring old box. So I introduce to you mastery-based goals. These sound like:
- Make healthy choices every day.
- Budget and spend smarter.
- Create space and time for creative output every week.
Mastery-based goals can be monitored in-process, not solely at the end. Did you do what you said you would do today to help you reach your longer-term goal?
Cause if you make healthy choices every day, there's a good chance you're on your way to losing that 15 lbs. If you start lovingly monitoring your saving and spending, you're going to get closer to $55k. And setting aside non-negotiable time to write and create is the only way books get written, period, end of story.
It's important that goals feel easy and actionable (think: BABY STEPS), vs. overwhelming and impossible. Another brilliant way of doing this is by framing goals as "Identity-Based Habits", via James Clear. I use this resource with clients a lot.
3) Plan to fall off the horse. And plan how to get your ass back in the saddle.
Here's the thing about attempting to enact a new habit or hit a thrilling new goal: You are going to fail.
What?! NO! That's super fucked up!
No it's not, it's true. At some point in the process, you will fail on following through.
There will be days you stray from your ideal intentions. You'll order nachos and frozen margaritas when you swore you'd get a salad and be in bed by ten. You'll way over-spend on shoes you don't need. Weeks will go by where you don't type a single word in that blessed book.
PLAN FOR THE MOMENTS WHEN YOU WILL FALL CLEAN OFF THAT STUPID HORSE.
If you anticipate falling off it won't shock or shame you, and you'll have a much easier time getting back on track.
Make a pact with yourself now to resume habits even after (potentially long) periods of horse-falling. Don't naively expect to hit the gym January 2nd and every single day after that, no problem, no questions asked, forever and ever. That's insanely unrealistic, and won't get you anywhere. Give yourself permission to fail, and you're 10x more likely to succeed. MATH!
4) Assemble a team in your rad, bad corner.
I just saw the movie "Creed" featuring "Rocky" icon Sylvester Stallone and (DROOL I AM NOT WORTHY) Michael B. Jordan. It illustrates this point so perfectly.
Sexy-as-fuck Michael B. Jordan wants to be a boxing champion, so he works his ass off training, fighting (in Tijuana - ow ow!) and studying the greats to improve his skills.
The problem is that at a certain point, Michael B. Jordan has done everything he can do on his own. Michael B. Jordan needs help. Michael B. Jordan needs support, motivation, outside expertise, and other people to push him and hold him accountable, so he seeks out a team.
MICHAEL B. JORDAN IS SO SMART. MICHAEL B. JORDAN IS BOUND TO SUCCEED.
Because study after study on goal-setting 'n getting indicates that social accountability is one of the biggest determining factors for success.
In laymen's terms: if you surround yourself with people who support you and hold you accountable, you're going to get farther, faster.
Just this past week I was avoiding hitting a deadline I had set for myself. When I casually mentioned it to my boyfriend Tony he replied, "Well the day isn't over yet, you could still do it."
BOOM. Social accountability. He challenged me, and guess what? I got it done.
Bonus round material: don't expect everyone to be everything to you in this category. If your Mom sucks at pushing you, count on her solely for support. If your group of friends aren't the "hit the gym" types, don't look to them for motivation. Do make efforts to find friends, peers, teachers, mentors, coaches, trainers, clubs, online support, that will motivate and encourage you.
And hell - why do you think coaching is so popular and pervasive right now? Cause it works. Cause it pushes people. Cause it holds you accountable. This shit ain't rocket science, it's actually pretty simple.
5) Get real nerdy and visualize, baby.
One of my favorite ways to goal-set is to put aside quiet time and imagine myself six months to a year from now...hmm, what am I doing? Where do I see myself? How do I look and feel? I really let myself go there and visualize it. Heck, if I close my eyes right now...
I see myself sitting in an apartment with rich hardwood floors. There's a tea kettle on the stove and sunlight pouring through swaths of white-curtained windows. I'm on the phone with someone (an agent or publisher, perhaps?) talking business. I'm looking at a calendar on the wall and there's a week crossed off where I'll be on vacation. We're attempting to figure out dates for something...
What the hell? What does that mean? Does it even matter?
I dunno, but it provides some insight on where I see myself going. Apparently I want to have enough money and freedom to take a trip. I'd like to have some more players on my team to help with business and life-organizing. I'm in my own beautiful space and I still love tea, dammit!
Visualizing provides insight that our logical, sensible, "DON'T DREAM TOO BIG, NOW!" brainy brains can't.
This vision for my future has more subconscious knowledge about what I really want than I can access on a surface level. Visualization is a powerful tool.
If you haven't used your imagination in awhile, this will feel kinda silly and/or impossible. But I encourage you to TRY IT OUT ANYWAY because you might surprise yourself.
Maybe you'll see yourself working with baby animals (huh, but you're in law school?) or driving home on a quiet country road (but you live in the big, bad city!). Something might get unearthed that you didn't know was missing. Pay attention to it. What's that about?
No matter what goals you set for yourself in the year ahead, please, please let compassion be your co-pilot. You don't have to do anything perfectly. You don't have to get it right the first time; you can let the process guide you. And if you need more help and guidance in this department, there's plenty more where this came from.