New Year is a time for reflection. You may be feeling remorse after too much indulgence over Christmas. You may want to put 2018 well and truly behind you. You are probably thinking about New Year resolutions to improve your life, set goals or achieve an aspiration. Here are 10 steps to turning those resolutions into reality.
Set aside time (a decent amount of time), make a cuppa, grab a pen and pad… and plan. New Year resolutions are no good if they are simply a wishlist: lose weight, have a better work/life balance, drink less, eat better. It’s crucial to put thought, emotion and planning into your objectives.
Jumble your ideas down, revise and reshape them, then write down specific goals (we suggest three) and how you are going to, in detail, execute them. It is crucial that you have your goals written down with your masterplan on how to achieve them, in a form and a place that you can refer to them. No one’s saying you will keep to them to the letter, but you stand so much more chance of achieving them if you’ve planned in detail – and you just slip back one step on the way to the top of your ladder, or miss merely one part of the jigsaw that makes up the big picture of your masterplan.
1.Begin by asking yourself why
- How important is this goal to you? Give yourself a score out of 10 and if it’s below 5, then this probably isn’t a top resolution for you.
- How convinced are you that you will achieve it? Again a score out of 10, and if it’s below 5, then be honest with yourself – you ain’t going to achieve it.
- Why are you doing it?
- What will the consequences be of achieving it?
- How will you know you’ve been successful?
- How will you celebrate your success?
2. Give yourself a reason
Set goals that make you want to jump out of bed of a morning! It can help to find a reason to really motivate you. Research shows that people wanting to lose weight who have tried every diet known to man manage it when they attach an emotional motivation to it: like…
- I want to be a good role model for my children
- I want to inspire my friends and family
- I want to make a difference to those who are struggling
- I want to have the energy and health to play with my children and grandchildren and see them grow up
- I want to look after myself in the best way I can
3. Use the power of three
Set no more than three goals at a time. Research shows the human brain can only really focus on three things at once. There’s a symmetry about three: morning, afternoon and night: faith, hope and charity: gold, silver, bronze: Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Powerful speakers always talk in threesomes… like Winston Churchill: ‘Never give up, never ever give up, don’t ever give up’. Advertising trades on the fact that the human brain assimilates three choices or threesomes best: like the Kellogg’s slogan for Rice Krispies, Snap, Crackle and Pop, that’s run and run since the 1930s. A triangle is the most stable shape in geometry, which is why bridges and buildings that must carry a lot of weight have structural elements based on triangles.
So use the power of three to your advantage in achieving your goals.
4. Break it down into steps
Set yourself a time by which you want to achieve your resolution. Then plan, plan, plan.
Break the goal down into small steps. If you want to lose 10kg then set targets on the way, week by week, month by month. If your goal is to lose weight and you’ve got a 5km run to enable that, don’t set out to run three times a week straight off. Start with a few lunchtime walks, plus one walk or run a week, and build from there.
Start slowly – changes in lifestyle often begin slowly, with small actions that eventually become healthy habits. There was never a winner who wasn’t a beginner. The road to success will be paved with mini-achievements, but make these steps SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely.
List tasks to do, actions you can take, resources you can call upon to strengthen your resolve to achieve your goal, and/or make the mini-steps on the way happen. Then prioritise which of these you will do when.
Timetable your steps, and make those dates a commitment – a weekly class that is sacrosanct, a weekend away that is booked, an arrangement with the family that everyone knows they have to keep to.
Telling a friend or friends always helps make the goal real – the more you say it out loud the more real it will become, and the more people you tell the more you’ll have supporters around you who can encourage you and help you celebrate the mini-achievements on the way. Better still, see if you can rope a friend into booking an event or doing a regular class with you. It’s always good to have a partner in crime and it is human nature not to want to let anyone down!
6. Foresee your obstacles
What may hold you back from achieving your New Year resolutions? What blocks or obstacles could stand in your way? Be honest, we all self-sabotage – but being aware of the blockers, barriers and obstacles that you inflict on yourself will help you break them down.
So… how might you overcome these blocks?
7. Say no
You’ve set your goals. So now decision making is easy: just say no to anything that doesn’t help you achieve that goal, that doesn’t serve your purpose. Take a leaf out of the book of career high-flyers, who operate singlemindedly, just doing what they set out to each day and not frittering their energy on the rest. That means you go out to the exercise class you’ve timetabled rather than hoovering or clearing the washing. The cleaning and washing will get done all the more quickly if you’re geed up after you’ve done something you want.
8. Get rid of the energy vampires
Spend your time around people who support you and love you without judgement and question. Stay away from the vampires who suck the life-blood out of you, make demands on you or manipulate you into doing things you’d prefer not to. They weaken your foundation and make you lose energy and commitment. Don’t let anyone keep you from being who you want to be!
9. Recruit help
This may be in the form of motivational blogs or books, or people who can help you. Perhaps start with an event to galvanise you? Maybe find an expert who can steer you? Is there book a course to give you more knowledge? It is always easier to achieve if you have someone, be it a coach or mentor or friend, on your side to keep you motivated and on target.
Another way you can definitely help yourself is by making affirmations. Research shows that people who make positive affirmations not only have more self-belief, they are also more likely to achieve their objectives. Over the years we tend to get into unhelpful patterns of thinking, and think negatively about ourselves and situations, generally due to our experiences. Using positive self-statements can help us develop a new attitude to ourselves and our situations.
Choose a statement, beginning with I and in the present tense, and repeat, repeat, repeat throughout the day, every day, of every week, of every month. Anything from ‘I am determined and successful’ to ‘I am a unique and special person’ to ‘I have strength’. It may help to write your positive affirmation on a card and carry it around with you. We like the book Ordering from the Cosmic Kitchen which enables you to make fully fledged affirmations specific to you and what you want from life.
10. Clear mess, clear mess, clear mess
Eyes forward, you want to achieve your goals. So it’s crucial to clear mess. Do it today, again tomorrow, and again the next day and the next. Just as energy vampires suck your confidence, mess saps your energy. We all spend time, emotions and energy dealing with mess. That may be stacks of paper on your dining table, clothes that don’t fit or serve any more, cupboards too full of stuff, the scissors that are always upstairs when you most often need them downstairs, the paperwork that is not properly filed so you take ages finding it when you need it next. This includes mental clutter too: when is your MOT due? Which day of the month does the credit card bill need to be paid? Does your phone properly sync to your other devices to save you time looking things up? New Year is a good opportunity to streamline life and clear messes.
Finally, start a success log… TODAY!
No one is expecting you to achieve your New Year resolutions exactly as you envisaged – don’t put that pressure on yourself! But if you have set yourself goals you believe in passionately, with reasons behind them that really make you want to achieve them, and you’ve planned your path to success, then you’ll have invested the energy into your resolutions that will make a few setbacks merely small irksome pebbles on a well-trodden path.
It’s important to start a success log to chart this path. Have you done something in alignment with your goal today/this week? Pat yourself on the back, timetable treats at regular intervals. Write down a victory daily.
And never ever forget how much you achieve each day, every single day.
Happy New Year… and happy New Year’s resolutions!
Sue Leach, owner