Reframing New Year’s Resolutions and New beginnings
With the New Year, we often make resolutions. It’s not a surprise to know that most people don’t follow through for more than a week or two, if they take any action at all. I don’t know about you, but I have sat with my glass of champagne thinking “Oh yeah, I should make a New Year’s resolution”. The usual suspects come to mind, such as getting more exercise, eating healthier, setting up a better savings plan, being more patient with ____, getting to work on time...
But why are New Year’s resolutions so, well let’s say it, useless! They are just a passing thought. They don’t have planning behind them or a real action plan. They don’t strategize for the ups and downs that you will inevitably face. But don’t despair. We can take those New Year’s resolutions and make them useful.
1. Write it down. Statistically, you are far more likely to succeed if you write down your goal.
2. SMART Goals Turn that resolution or vague goal into a SMART goal. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and with a Timeline. I know, you’ve heard about the pros and cons of SMART goals, but bear with me for a minute. SMART goals are said to sometimes squash the bigger, harder to achieve goals, but I think that is a cop out. You can have a BHAG -Big Hairy Audacious Goal- too. For me, SMART goals are the smaller steps that get you to the BHAGs. Your BHAG might be to own a Caribbean Island. Right now, is that attainable? Probably not. But someday, maybe. So, let’s look at the smaller goals that will make it at least possible. Maybe we need to look at some financial goals and some health goals, so you can enjoy the island once you have it. (This last month I wrote about SMART goals for different areas of your life. You can go to my Advent Calendar and look at December 9 for Financial goals, December 10 for Health goals, December 16 for Career/Business, Dec 17 for Relationship Goals, December 23 for personal & recreational goals, December 24 for Contribution Goals and December 30th for BHAGs.)
3. Brainstorm Now you have a SMART goal (or several), let’s brainstorm action steps. Write the goal in the middle of a piece of paper. Or cut out a picture that represents it. You can copy a picture from the internet. Now start thinking of the little things that you need to do to achieve that goal. Draw lines out from the centre with circles for all the things that form part of this goal. From each of those parts you can draw more circles and break down the parts and steps to achieving the goal. (See AdventCalendar December 29th for more on brainstorming)
4. Create a strategy document Ok, this might be overkill for some goals, but others may involve many steps that need to be done in a particular order. If it is a complex goal with lots of steps, you can use a project management software, or a spreadsheet or maybe just get a white board and draw out the flow of what needs to happen
5. Dates! Give action steps a date to be done. Take your timeline and start adding the actions into your calendar. Don’t make the mistake of putting too many things in one day. I’m guilty of getting really excited in the planning stages and wanting to do everything now. Then when the day is done, and you haven’t done all your actions for the day, you are disappointed and may drop the project and goal all together. Be very realistic. Add them to your calendar. If there are tools you need, things to buy or pick up to take that action, be sure to schedule that in the days before.
6. Daily list of 3-5 Before bed, look at the next days schedule. Write a list of 3-5 things you must do the next day. This will include the action you scheduled to help you with your goal. There may be other things that are important related to your family or work. This list is the 3 to 5 things that you must do no matter what. Cooking dinner is not on the list. You probably should cook dinner, but you could order out if time is short and you don’t have the things on your list done. That is, unless cooking at home is an aspect of your goal to be healthier or to spend more time with family to improve your relationships. Then by all means put cook dinner on the list. Make this list your priority and make it things that move you towards your goal.
7. Daily review At the end of the day look at what you didn’t get done. Again, we are being realistic, and we are human. We get sick or we have an off day. You could get down on yourself, but that doesn’t help. Look at the list and reschedule those things you didn’t do today.
8. Weekly review At the end of the week, look at your lists of 3-5 things each day you were supposed to do. If there are several things you didn’t do, look at why? Is there something you are avoiding? Are you being unrealistic and need to schedule less in a day? Is there a pattern that you can see? Are things scheduled for a particular time of day being missed? Maybe you need to re-think when you do them. Did you get everything done? If yes, celebrate! Did you get more done than you would have without the lists and scheduling? If yes, celebrate! The goal is not to perfectly schedule everything, but rather to help you do more to reach your goals.
9. Monthly review Now we get down to the big patterns. Is there a day of the week where you consistently don’t get things done? Look at that day and decide maybe not to schedule things for that day. I don’t schedule anything for Friday evenings because I know that me and my family are usually tired and just like to wind down after a busy week. If we do have lots of energy-Bonus! We do something fun and spontaneous! This is also the time to go back to and review your brainstorming or strategy document and tweak anything that may need to be changed based on the last month’s experience. Don’t give up. Go back, review, plan and keep taking action.
10. Schedule it Add dates for new actions that come up. Sometimes you know the steps to a goal, but not exactly how long certain things will take, so your dates for secondary actions may have just been a month. Now you look at month 2 items and schedule them in on a specific date.
New Year’s is a new beginning for many people. It is like rebooting or restarting your computer. You start with a fresh screen. Just remember like a computer with a virus causing problems, rebooting your own life on New Year’s Eve won’t get rid of the underlying issues. You need to look a little deeper and evaluate what works and what doesn’t work, then make goals and follow through with the above steps to make real change.
Send me a note with your goals at Stacey@Richconnections.ca. I would love to hear your goals! If you need help with this process, let me help.