It’s that time of the year! We reflect upon our past year and think forward to our future with a goal of living in the present. Ushering in the new year calls on us to connect the whole time continuum, evidently. In an effort to deflate the stress and maintain the excitement of your annual clean slate, here is the Lucky 7: New Year Resolutions edition. And for the haters who think resolutions are stupid and we should “resolve to live every day like it’s a new year, maaaan”– you can relax. They’re really just goal setting tips.
1) Consider Your Whole Self: Don’t get tricked by thinking a goal only pertains to one specific part of your physical, mental, or emotional self because it tends to draw on one specific part of you. By trying to better your physical, mental, or emotional self, you’re calling on all three of these planes to participate. If you have a demanding fitness related goal set to better your physical self, do you have the time to prepare healthy meals and get your butt to the gym? Conversely, if you’re gunning for a promotion at work, is sacrificing the work out routine that sets up your day worth the early office hours? If you’re looking to be more a socialite, will you make time to give gratitude if you’re on the bar stool until last call? To move the needle of any sect in your life in a positive direction requires an investment from your whole self.
2) Be SMART: That is to make your goals Specific, Measurable, Realistic And Time-bound.
Specific: Defines the mission and makes it concrete. Specificity helps make things action-oriented instead of floating in a sea of abstraction and grey.
Good: I will commit myself to daily meditation and one random act of kindness a week. (Specific)
Bad: I want to be, nicer, happier, and more positive than I was this year. (Nonspecific)
Really Bad: I want to be happy. (Very nonspecific and a ton of pressure)
Measurable: Allows you to properly evaluate your success and track how much of your goal you’ve accomplished.
Good: I want to increase my business’s Facebook fans by 20%. (Specific and measurable)
Bad: I want to increase my business’s Facebook fans by an arbitrary amount until it feels like I did a good job. (Specific and unmeasurable)
Really Bad: I want my business’s social media to be better. (Nonspecific and unmeasurable)
Realistic: Setting a goal should have a visible finish line. Making sure that your expectations are realistic means that you’re finding a happy medium between ambitious and accomplishable. If they aren’t ambitious, you’re doing something entirely too possible, which isn’t setting a goal. If they’re not accomplishable, you’re avoiding the fear of failure.
Good: I want to lose 4 inches off of my waistline. (Specific, measurable, and realistic)
Bad: I want to lose 20 inches off of my waistline. (Specific, measurable, unrealistic)
REALLY Bad: I’M GOING TO LOSE ALL THE WEIGHT! (Non-specific, unmeasurable, and definitely-a-body-image-issue-unrealsitic)
Time-bound: Helps create mental markers that avoid procrastination pitfalls or “holy-crap-it’s-December-I-better-bribe-my-boss-for-a-promotion” mentality.
Good: I’m going to learn to play three songs on the piano by May 15th.
Bad: I’m going to learn to play piano this year at some point or whatever. (Non-specific, unmeasurable, only kind of realistic, vaguely time-bound)
REALLY Bad: I’m going to instruments! (Non-specific, unmeasurable, unrealistic, not time-bound, not even a sentence)
3) Create Checkpoints: I was never very good at video games, so when my perpetually level one self finally does reach a milestone, I appreciate the checkpoint safety being in place for when I inevitably die 17 seconds later from excessive celebration. Year long goals need checkpoints, too. Before you can increase sales by 15%, you have to close one deal. Before you can lose 20 pounds, you have to lose one. Checkpoints are a good way to ensure that you’ve made some progress toward your goal rather than getting sucked into the mesmerizing all-or-nothing gusto of the new year. Your boss would be happier with a 10% spike that flatlining, wouldn’t he? Checkpoints are also a sobering reality check for whether your goals are actually in the ballpark. If you’re way behind come June, reign them in a bit so that you still feel the bait of accomplishment. If you’re way ahead come March, don’t ease up! Go higher. How many times do we set “year long” goals and forget about them two months later? Or worse, remember them a month before the year is up? The good news is these checkpoints will actually aid you in reaching your goals while Mario and I will continue to only dream of meeting Princess Peach on the other side of the flagpole.
5) Make Your Goals About You: Anyone who knows me knows how much I want to vomit when someone makes “finding their soul mate” a personal goal. If they’re you believe in soul mates, you should believe in the universe enough that you won’t have to hunt them down. Similarly, you shouldn’t make it your resolution to get promoted, or “get” anything that is outside of your direct efforts You should be optimistic that these things will happen, and you should definitely be open to love and work toward opportunities that could come into your path, but goals should be entirely in your control. If it’s not about you, you don’t have control over there success. That is an unnecessary invitation for failure.
6) Set Yourself Up For Success: Now that you’ve set your goals, it’s important to set yourself up for success. You should make sure that you’re armed with everything you need. If you’re goal is to run a 5K, do you have running sneakers? The couch25k app? Coconut water? If you’re learning to cook, should you take a class? Need recipe books? The right olive oil? How about the right support for when the going gets tough. Do you need an accountability partner? Pinterest encouragement? What about inspirational blogs or extra guidance for those times when your bed seems cozier than the real world? You need the right environment to match the mindset. Otherwise these holes in your plan will quickly manifest into excuses.
7) Just Do It: Ain’t just a Nike slogan, you guys. Just do it. If you aren’t doing it, consciously ask yourself why. Will you really do it later? Do you really not have the time? Are you too tired, or are you just kind of tired? Sometimes, there are valid reasons for missing your commitment. If it throws the rest of your life out of whack, it’s not something that will make you feel better. But, remember that it is important enough to you that you declared it as a marker of your upcoming year. Don’t give up! Readjust to something that gets along with the rest of your life. Or get out of your own way. Stay honest with yourself and you’ll reveal a lot more than you expected.