So you don’t believe in setting firm New Year’s resolutions – cool. Neither do I. I have a firm belief that intentions (followed by actions) beat setting recycled resolutions at the start of every new year. But let’s be real, intentions alone will not take you far and I’m pretty sure I still use the two interchangeably anyway. Tomayto, Tomahto.
We’re 49 days into the new year! Approximately 13% of your year out the window already. Can you confidently account for the time that has passed? If the answer is no, then you’ve got some thinking to do. Perhaps it’s time for some self-reflection and surveying the remainder of your year.
Research shows that one-third of our new year’s resolutions are abandoned within the first month, and less than half actually make it to the six-month mark simply due to our failure/inability to plan.
Is this your year to do big things? Strengthen your health? Go back to school? Acquire a new skill or habit? Change jobs? Write a book? Start a blog? Whatever it is …. what’s stopping you!?
You may have had a rocky start to the year but that shouldn’t mean defeat. Besides, it’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish. Let’s look at some ways to tackle goal planning and setting intentions head on.
BE SMARTER ABOUT HOW YOU CREATE YOUR RESOLUTIONS.
- Making sure that the goals you’re setting are being set for the right reasons is one thing, making sure they are SMART is another. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Rewarding and Timely. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how hard or how easy your goals are, you’re probably not going to commit yourself fully to achieving results without some sort of emotionally attachment. Whether it’s losing those last few pounds (preaching to myself here) or enhancing your professional development, the results won’t show if the motivation isn’t coming from within.
FORM NEW HABITS.
- For most people (including me), resolutions fall apart easily because we try to do too much at once. We bite off more than we can chew and go after too many difficult goals at the same time. Time will teach you to Slow Down. You may think that the success of goal setting lies in your willpower and self-control, which prove true at times, but it’s much deeper than that. Success lies in our habits. Yep, that’s right! That also means you will have to form new ones.
- The idea here is to focus not just on your goals, but also on the habits that lead you toward your goals. Start with your behaviours. What are some things that you do daily that impede growth in areas of your life that require change? For me, it’s getting up on time and out of bed in the morning – I love my sleep. Address these behaviours and think of ways to begin changing them. This won’t happen overnight, so don’t beat yourself up if you miss the mark from time to time. A lot of time and effort is required. Implementing small changes in your behaviours daily will make it more easier to transform your newly learned behaviours into newly formed habits. To do big things, you have to start with small ones. Start small and work your way up.
PLAN! THEN PLAN SOME MORE.
- Planning goes beyond buying that cute little planner from your favorite book/online store, taking a picture of it (aesthetics, duh!) and posting it for the ‘gram. You have to be intentional about your plans and find ways to become accountable to yourself. It’s the only way to keep the cycle going.
Some strategic methods of planning that have been useful for me include the following:
Using a calendar
Calendars are great time trackers and serve as a multipurpose motivational tool. I mark my calendar every time I hit a goal. Seeing a string of marked days on a calendar has been a great way to build confidence and a sense of accomplishment. It’s also a gentle reminder to get your *ish together because you still have so much to do and ground to cover! I use the calendar app on my iPhone (so clutch) religiously and MS Outlook. You can find great suggestions for other calendar apps here.
Creating Checklists and Reminders
Creating checklists and reminders is actually a bit therapeutic for me. It helps me clear my head and get things that need to get done out of my head and down on paper (sometimes literally). This exercise is a great way to develop accountability for yourself and it keeps you organized. It’s also fulfilling when you get to cross things off of a list which in turn, gives you a great sense of accomplishment. Understandably, we’re imperfect beings and heavily flawed ant times, so it’s natural to write things down and forget to follow up with them. This is where setting reminders for yourself proves beneficial. Again, my iPhone is convenient and serves as my personal assistant most of the time. I use the Reminder app interchangeably with the Notes and Calendar app. There are tons of options out there when it comes to finding useful applications – just google it.
Did someone says moodboard!?!
I’m a serial screenshotting/Pinterest saving/insta archiving hobbit. I DO NOT PLAY *insert ratchet clapping here* when it comes to my motivational and inspirational quotes/images. If it speaks to my soul in any way, shape or form… I’m adding it to my archive. Simple.
Setting up rewards
Treat yourself. A lot of hard work went into this process and it doesn’t hurt to set some incentives for yourself when you’re met with success at the end of the finish line.
For me, planning and goal setting happens on a quarterly basis. I like to set realistic goals and targets for myself to ensure they’re attainable. Every 3 months, I revisit what I wrote down and conduct a health check on my progress. This helps with goal alignment and provides me with the flexibility needed to change or refocus my goals during the year. I also use this opportunity to identify things that I did well over the quarter and things that I could have done better or need to improve on.