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I hope you’ve already broken your resolutions.
In fact, I hope you didn’t make any.
Now we can get on with reality and making lasting change.
It takes an average of 66 days to establish a new habit or break an old one (studies show that it’s not the 21 days we’ve been hearing about for years). That said, let’s take a look at the most common New Year’s resolutions:
- Lose Weight
- Getting Organized
- Spend Less, Save More
- Enjoy Life to the Fullest
- Staying Fit and Healthy
- Learn Something Exciting
- Quit Smoking
- Help Others in Their Dreams
- Fall in Love
- Spend More Time with Family
Let’s just look at losing weight and quitting smoking. Two of the hardest things a person can do. This requires a sometimes minute by minute struggle for smokers. Couple that with needing to lose weight, and for good measure throw in “enjoy life to the fullest”.These are great resolutions. But unless you’re committed to some serious changes,they’re never going to happen.
First of all – what is “enjoy life to the fullest”? It means something different to everyone, and it’s too abstract to be a resolution. Additionally, “quit smoking” and “lose weight” need a plan behind them, and they shouldn’t be tackled in unison.
Setting Goals Instead
To break and start a new habit, it’s best to tackle just one. Choose just one thing that you’re going to devote the next two months to, and get really good at that.
Something that has worked well for me the last several years is making New Year’s Goals, rather than resolutions. This way, I can put an action plan behind it. I break my goals down into actionable steps, small things that establish routine and habit.
For example, do you want to run a half marathon this year? Find a training plan that breaks down what your daily workouts need to look like and how many weeks it will take to be ready for a race. This is a lot less overwhelming than mentally trying to “train for a half marathon” without knowing what that truly entails.
Once you’ve achieved a goal, or feel like you have your routine and habit in place, then move on to another one.
Resolutions like “enjoy life to the fullest” and “learn something exciting” are good, but they’re thin and abstract. You have to have a clear definition of what your “full life” looks like, and what types of things are “exciting” for you to learn. Then, put a plan in place, just like you would for something a little more tangible or concrete.
For example, if “enjoying life to the fullest” means something like more international travel, sit down and look at your travel budget, then look at dates you want to travel and request those off from work, and then choose a destination that has been on your wish list, and start planning immediately. This will start to turn “enjoying life to the fullest” into something real.
Give yourself some breathing room when you’re staring down an entire calendar year of one really long, tedious, time-consuming, less-than-glamorous goal like “lose 100 pounds” or “write a book”. These goals are probably going to take more than 66 days.
Write down your goals in the same way, but in little tangible increments. Write down your meal plans for the week, as well as your exercise schedule. Even the smallest things. Even if it’s “walk .5 miles today” or “write 500 words today”. Once it’s written down it’s part of your day, and you’re more likely to keep the commitment.
I mentioned this above, but clearly defining what something means is critical to achieving a goal. To say “fall in love” sounds wonderful, but it’s a little vague. We can assume “fall in love” means romantically. That’s well and good, except that you can only control half of that equation.
Define your reasons for wanting to fall in love first. Then, decide what it means to be a loving person. What qualities do you possess that make you more lovable? Are you attracting the right types of people into your life? Why or why not? What needs to change?
“Falling in love” as a goal may become clearer for you as you break down what it is you feel is missing in your life, and the personal changes you need to make.
Don’t be afraid to go full-on nerd if you need to. Create spreadsheets, make checklists, download apps; do whatever it takes to get organized. For example, each year I set a goal for how many books I want to read each month. At the start of the year, I set up a spreadsheet that helps me track the book titles per month, as well as a spreadsheet of books I want to read. This keeps me on track with how I’m progressing, as well as keeping me motivated with new titles I’m excited to tackle.
I truly hope that 2017 is a spectacular year for you. Let me know what goals you’re taking on, I’d love to hear from you!