I’m going to tell you a dirty little secret, New Year’s resolutions don’t last. Oh wait, everyone already knows that hence the plentitude of jokes about them. But just because your vague goal of “getting in shape” or your overly ambitious undertaking to “never eat sugar again” probably won’t work out for you, doesn’t mean January 1st isn’t a great time to make change. Habits and goal setting are a much more effective way to set you up for a successful 2017 and if you aren’t sure where to start just keep reading.
Why are habits and goals more powerful than resolutions?
Resolutions tend to be too big or broad to actually take action and they overwhelm us before we even begin. Many people resolve to get in shape for the new year but what does that really mean? Eating more vegetables, working out more, getting better rest, all of these? When we break resolutions down into smaller, clear goals it gives us direction and clarity. When we break clear goals down even further into accomplishable habits, we can build incredible momentum towards our largest goals with little effort on our part.
Habits are practices that are so ingrained we don’t even think about them. Habits help us build the lives we want day by day without any major effort on our part. You probably have many habits that are so ingrained it might be hard for you to realize they are in-fact habits. For example; drinking coffee every morning, checking your phone when you wake up, driving the same route to work everyday, showering every evening. Once a habit in created, it is done with little or not effort. But choosing, creating, and sustaining a habit that helps us reach our ultimate goals can be challenging at the beginning. So I have broken down the process below.
“I should make one healthy choice, and then stop choosing.”
― Gretchen Rubin, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives
Know What You Want
Take time to sit down and imagine what you want, 10 years from now, 5 years from now, and/or 1 year from now. You can choose to focus on a particular aspect of life like health, career, relationship, or about all of the above. Fill in the details of your future life. Where are you? What do you value? What have you accomplished? What does your day-to-day routine look like? Give yourself 20 minutes to just imagine. If you can do it now, do it! If you are reading this at work (yes, I know you do that) then schedule time later and commit to doing this practice.
Example: I wake up every day at sunrise to practice yoga on the beach. Then I pick fresh fruit from my yard for my morning smoothie. I begin working on my blog by 9:00am while sipping freshly ground coffee. I spend time interacting with my many followers and responding to brand requests for collaborations. Then I write for a few hours on my porch while my dogs sleep in the sun. After I am done writing I go to meet my boyfriend for lunch in town, we laugh and eat slowly while enjoying each others company. Later that evening friends stop by our home and we share a bottle of wine while a record spins on our player, creating a warm atmosphere for our conversation. I drift off to sleep feeling fulfilled and loved.
Break it down
Looking at the above example there are many things I would have to do to make this vision possible. I can then break these things down into actionable steps.
Example: In my vision I say my blog has many followers and I respond to brands daily. Since this is not my current reality I know that I need to grow my blog to make the imagined future possible.
Possible ways to grow my blog:
Increase posting consistency.
Grow social media channels.
Collaborate with other bloggers.
Try doing this with your own vision (which you have because you took those 20 minutes, right? Right.)
Break it down again
Choosing one example from my list above I can break the goals down even more until I am focusing on an action small enough that I could accomplish it every day.
Example: Increase Posting Consistency
Ways to increase consistency:
Write every day.
Schedule posts in advance.
Create a content calendar every month.
Pick one thing
I now choose one of the options form the list above and create a daily or weekly practice around it. As I consistently practice this single option, over time it will become a habit. In order to help me as I build the habit, I create structures and reminders to reinforce the routine until it becomes ingrained and I no longer have to think about it. It is best to choose one habit to work with at a time, otherwise we risk overwhelm and ineffectiveness.
Example: Write every day
Schedule a time every day to write.
Put an alarm on my phone when it is time to write.
Ask a friend to check in on me one a week to reinforce my habit.
After one month of writing daily reward myself with a new notebook.
I’m curious how you feel about goal-setting. Is it something you practice regularly? However you choose to move forward into the new year I am wishing you a wonderful 2017!
Love and light,