7 Steps To Accomplish Your New Year's Resolutions
Updated: Jul 19, 2019
Happy New Year! I hope these words find you well and optimistic about all of the mysteries and possibilities that a new year brings. I just love the start of a new year. I love setting and meeting goals and ticking things off my to-do list. Despite my excitement and optimism about all of the opportunities ahead, I still experience challenges when it comes to setting and accomplishing goals.
Most people struggle with making changes in their lives whether as a result of a New Year’s Resolution, or wanting to break a bad habit or form a new one. It takes willpower, time, and strategy to be able to successfully change your behavior.
Goal setting is a process and there are many books and articles that offer a wide variety of techniques to choose from. Over the years I’ve discovered tricks for working through my own challenges and in my Goal Setting Workshops I teach the following 7-step method.
Step 1: Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want.
Phrasing your goal in a positive way will help you feel optimistic and, in turn, help you stick to your goal with more ease. Let’s say you want to lose some weight. Set your goal as eating healthy, achieving your ideal weight, and getting into your skinny jeans rather than dieting, “being good” or giving up certain foods. By framing things in a positive way, you’ll feel less deprived and the changes you make will feel like a choice instead of a punishment.
Step 2: Fake it til’ you make it.
Use your imagination and get really specific with what the goal’s achievement will look like so that you can experience the feeling of already having what you want. I do this with playing the guitar. When I’m practicing, I take a few minutes to visualize how I’ll play when I’ve reached my next playing goal (wild solos and all.) Then I go back to my practice feeling inspired.
Step 3: Give yourself a leg up.
Take stock of what you already have to get you started on your goal. What do you need to succeed? How can you help yourself? Write down some strategies that will help you get off the ground more easily. If you want to get in shape maybe you need some comfy gym clothes? A new water bottle might help you remember to stay hydrated. Give yourself whatever extra push you can think of to build your momentum at the start of things.
Step 4: Take small, manageable steps.
A big change can feel overwhelming and be easy to give up on when it seems impossible to achieve. Breaking things up into small “turtle steps” makes your goal less daunting. Here’s an example of the use of turtle steps: I want to redecorate my office. One turtle step I could take would be to look at paint swatches and decide on colors for the walls. I could also box up items in the office at the rate of one box per night during the week. Both of these actions get me closer to my ultimate goal without forcing me to do the redecoration in a huge overhaul. They are also measurable which means I will be able to see progress as I go.
Step 5: Know your weaknesses.
If you have been trying to achieve a goal and you’re stalling out, make sure you take a look at what might be holding you back. Are you a procrastinator? Do you get easily distracted? Do you give up when things get too hard? Assess your own shortcomings and devise a strategy for overcoming them. Do you need a buddy (or a life coach!) to hold you accountable? Can you set up reminders on your phone or work calendar? Plan for slip-ups so you don’t give up!
Step 6: Try, try again.
It’s natural to slip up when you’re making changes in your behavior. We are creatures of habit and a habit is hard to break. The real trick with achieving goals is to keep trying. If you ate the cupcake and feel bad about it, give yourself a break and make a different choice tomorrow. If you get discouraged, write down all of the things that you have done and check them off as you go. Sometimes you need to take a break if you’re working hard. When you do, give yourself credit for what you have done and then continue moving ahead. The real breakdown happens when you slip up and use that as reason to give up. Just keep trying and you will move forward little by little. As one of my favorite heroines Anne of Green Gables would say “Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it... Yet.” (Montgomery, 1908)
Step 7: Nailed it!
If something doesn’t work and you feel frustrated the last thing you want to do (well, probably the first thing!) is throw in the towel. This is the stickiest time when you’re trying to achieve your goal. If you experience a “failure”, examine what didn’t work and use that as fuel to revamp your next steps. The key to achieving goals is to learn from your mistakes and improve your strategy.
Well there you have it! Check that off the list! Some simple tips to help you keep those resolutions and ring in your best year yet!