According to research we are 10 times more likely to make a positive and sustainable lifestyle change if we make a ‘Resolution’ about it around New Year. What’s your New Year Resolution? How to keep your New Year’s Resolutions and reach your goals? And how to make the journey of making your New Year’s Resolutions a reality joyful, simple and successful?
The Start, the Finish and the Journey
In ideal life we make a wish…for something we really really want…then translate our wish into a ‘resolution’ setting a SMART goal while being in a great space. New Year is a natural and excellent time for making wishes and setting goals.
Then we keep the whole show on the road with joy and ease having good working systems.
Finally, we reach the finish line, having mastered a desired skill or acquired a great new habit or made a positive lifestyle change. And it all feels like a win.
In real life, statistically, a couple of weeks into the New Year most people start giving up on their resolutions 🙁 How to avoid this frustration? How to make a success of your New Year Resolutions?
If we ‘fail’ to keep our New Year Resolutions we either have a goal problem or a system problem – or sometimes it could be a start problem. The whole process of making New Year Resolutions to become a joy and success can be looked at as 3 major steps:
- Start=‘Power’ Moment
- Finish=Goal achieved
- Journey=Right ‘Systems’, working smoothly
Typical New Year Resolutions
New Year Resolutions often involve a lifestyle change leading to:
- happier life (Soul feeding hobbies, social connections, stable mental health)
- healthier life (more exercise, better food choices)
- more exciting life (travel, adventure)
- more productive life (better aligned profession)
- more financially successful life (typically a combination of frugal life and savings)
- more balanced life (life work balance; giving receiving balance; better interaction with the family)
- more socially responsible life (conscious, sustainable choices).
These New resolutions are so universal that we when we think we made ours it’s a good idea to check against all these categories, as individually we tend to focus more on our current pain points and might miss something which is equally or more important – but doesn’t seem that urgent.
Isn’t it amazing how as humans we all need/want very similar things??
Not Typical New Year Resolutions
Here comes the whole array of our individual wishes…These can be our wishes and intents we might not so readily share with others. They can be too close to our heart or against the trend or ‘common sense’ – like planning an early retirement or choosing a ‘slow life’ when everybody else in our circle is planning for a ‘work hard play hard’ lifestyle. This category is probably most important of all..
Oh, and here is a separate and intriguing topic of repeat resolutions…to make or not to make?
Some people insist we need to fulfil our resolutions from the previous years before making any new; from my experience when we truly want something and write it down every year not able to fulfil it and not willing to drop, there will come a year when it becomes possible and conditions are right to make it happen.
Giving up on our dream completely just because we ‘fail’ to make it a reality in earlier years is worse in my opinion than making it happen a year or two later.
Let’s start with the end in mind as per classic. We have a New Year Resolution or a sets of New Year Resolutions. Probably the most common problem is that in order to become a reality our resolution (a wish) needs to dress up as a smart goal. While we usually know what it means (SMART goals term is used in business or coaching) we might now apply this to our personal goals. And, we might not know what we (‘really really’) want.
A ‘goal problem’ is usually the first suspect when our New Year Resolutions fail.
- Not realistic goals: we want to get a degree, a partner, get ‘in shape’, start a business and move to the Moon (OK to a new house) all in one year. Too easy goals can be a problem too but unrealistic goals are way more common.
- Not inspiring goals: making our diet healthier is truly boring (though totally correct) if our goal is to drop weight for health reasons and it becomes totally different if you visualise yourself in that dress..
- Not spoken goals: private, secret resolutions are difficult to keep because nobody keeps us accountable. Some of our goals are likely to be private but then we need to somehow be accountable to ourselves. Stream Writing can be of help here.
- Not SMART goals. A goal of ‘get back to my natural body weight this year’ might be unrealistic and unsustainable; converted into a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound) such lose 4 pounds body weight every 2 month by creating in calorie deficit of 300 calories choosing mainly plant based diet with some fish; same with ’30 min family reading every night’; daily screen time 30 min less over 1 month; learn 1 song on piano every month’ etc.
Missing the day
Missing the day/week/event is a dangerous zone where we may be tempted to drop our great new habit. If the goal is still valid this shouldn’t matter. Foresee periodic slipping up… and at times missing your day at gym/your weekly post/your monthly song.
What is important is to praise yourself for doing great at other times and get back on track – or review your system so it doesn’t happen often (I found, same as many people, that the closer to late afternoon you practice your new habit the worse it tend to turn out…so sometimes just shifting a new habit away from natural tiredness time helps).
Missing the day=not a problem
Missing the point
This is a version of denial when we make our resolution for anything other than our actual problem, a core problem. For somebody already on track with their profession aiming for bold career development while cutting down family or Self time might be an escape from a real conflict which can only be resolved by choosing the exact opposite. Or indeed for a stay at home Mum whose kids are long independent a goal of baking even better cakes instead of picking up a long waited dream of starting a business or going back to college could be a little outdated…and constricting both for her and her family.
Missing the point=big problem
Reaching your goals
Making a previous New Year’s Resolutions a reality can feel absolutely exhilarating when you don’t need to put it on this year’s list anymore! It’s live, it’s working and those habits which felt totally foreign and daunting just a year back now feel a second nature. This is a great cause for celebration 🙂
Dropping your goals
Some repeat goals can reflect safe sabotage but some may be just a little incorrect – instead of ‘to quit my day job’ it might be ‘to build a portfolio career’ especially in current climate. When quitting day job creates more stress than joy and is not even essential than it was more an emotional resolution. Acknowledge emotion, correct the goal, plan better, move on.
A lot of research and advice around New Year Resolutions focuses of motivation but it’s systems that keep the whole show on the road.
Will power fluctuates.
Having made a nice and fresh New Year Resolution, without good systems in place we start oscillating between what we want to be (on a good day) and what we used to be (on a bad day).
But we can easily set up facilitations, practice self-awareness and detached observation, Self reflection, focus on the Key Habit, create a container for our goals, be present in the process and stay accountable.
- Focus on the process not just the finish line: motivation is still a key ingredient to change one little thing at a time which makes the process a little less hard and more enjoyable
- Self Reflection: this can be as simple as writing your main goal for the year every day in your stream of conscious writing journal. If you are moving towards your goals, great, highlight it! If this is not quite happening, reflect: ‘My goal is….but this is not happening today BECAUSE….’.
- Small goals and small wins: aim for humble incremental improvements starting small and working your way up: wake up at 6am not 4am; do 10-20 min daily exercise not 1hr.
- Facilitation, not motivation: schedule weekly activities and events, ditch tempting food, get your running gear out, stock on veg.
- Pick up a Key habit: key habit is that One Thing, which creates a domino effect and makes all other actions ‘either easy or unnecessary’. Resolving to go to gym 5 days/week we are getting 1) fitter, 2) slimmer, 3) healthier); write a blog post every week we can 1) offer value to people, 2) connect on SM, 3) develop our voice; create a cut off time for work and free up 1 hr in the evening for the family we can 1) talk, 2) read, 3) dance, 4) watch movies etc.
- Drop other habits: research shows that a cognitive load makes us fail our resolutions and give in to temptation simply going back to our default mode so easing our cognitive load in general and by dropping the need to acquire secondary new habits in particular can help us to get started and establish the Key habit leading to success and joy.
Make yourself accountable…. to your child (or employee or a patient)
To explain the process to my Home Educated teenager, a first timer to New Year Resolutions in January 2020 I quickly researched the professionals and found a great little video mentioning facilitation as a key to sticking to New Year Resolutions. Last year we made our New Year Resolutions together first time, so this January was a reality check….some didn’t happen while a lot did (note to myself: plan better!)
Makes me wonder – do they teach making New Year Resolutions in school?? Certainly it wasn’t the case in my school times…
Accountability is vital but who you are accountable to matters. If your accountability buddy is your best friend you might tend to cut yourself some slack. If this is your child whom you wish to acquire this great habit or somebody who you want to see you in a positive light only it’s a different matter 🙂 It’s a Win Win: now you are really smart with your goals, you don’t want to fail any of them and you will be kept on your toes.
Also, joining our Cafe Self is a nice ways to be accountable for practicing any new habits which are meant to feed your Soul, for your New Year Resolutions and beyond!
Creating a container
Alarm clock on your mobile phone and your Calendar are simplest and best containers to house your new habits-in-the-making. Until our dream dresses up as a SMART goal and makes it to our repeat alarm on the mobile phone, calendar or both it is likely stay in the dream space.
Putting a quarterly review in your calendar is great for tracking your goals.
Most of all…enjoy the ride
According to research people who enjoyed the tasks, the process and not just the outcome, the external reward, did best in keeping up their New Year Resolutions.
Science says most people think of some sort of New Year Resolutions during a natural dip in work related activities between Christmas and New Year. We tend to stop, think, reflect, and be. And people who make them are a 10 times more successful at keeping them 6 months later in comparison with setting goals at other times of the year.
Catching High power moment
The 1st of January seems to be a universal high power moment – you are motivated, rested, happy, the year is fresh and you naturally contemplate the year ahead. Then…life goes back to normal fully on the 2nd and if some people practice new habits for some time then their motivation often starts to dip at some point. So, how to ‘use high power moment to feed low power moments?’. What do you have to have by the time when that low moment comes in order not to forget all your good intentions and keeping sticking to your choices?
We found that for a start the following might help:
- Printed list of resolutions
- Printed list on facilitations to them
- Scheduling new habits (calendar and phone)
- Enlisting help and regular accountability from other family members
Extending High Power moment
Failing the 1st of January the whole month is about setting the tone and a general desired theme for the year so the time is now! Cultivating a somewhat contemplative frame of mind all January long helps in tuning into our deep wishes.
The month of January is named after the Roman god of doors, Janus, the two-faced god, because this month is the door into the new year. Representing all beginnings Janus can see both into the past and into the future.
How cool is that? We have an entire month of January to contemplate, connect the past with the future and make our life better in the now.
And the contemplation theme is so in line with TCM stating that in Water element we must rest and preserve our energy. It’s time to cocoon inside, practice hygge, dream and make better plans for the future.
Missing High Power moment
Failing January it’s about creating a Power moment and any time of year is a good time.
How to create a High Energy Moment (if you missed January the 1st, all the month of January or had a cognitive overload back then)?
What is your happy space? Where/when/how do you feel most at home with yourself: solo? with a partner? in a good company? indoor or outdoor? Choose your happiest setting to set your goals!
If you are somebody who loves the outdoors and fresh winter air walks might work for you but if you hate cold and need an enclosed space to think and feel then stay at home.
Habits of business people and life coaches
According to most organised people, you make your New Year Resolutions in mid-November of the previous year straight after year reflections. And the 1st of January or shortly before still seems a somewhat magical moment even if you have a full list mid November.
If you used mid November as a starting point chances are come January your core resolutions for the better future will be there already deeply thought about and January the 1st will be all about fun and celebration of new everything, including some whimsical and wonderful brand new goals.
Tracking your New Year Resolutions
In terms of tracking the New Year Resolutions we found really helpful a mid-way review – Midsummer New Year Resolutions – it’s a real eye opener, much less popular (unless you run a business) and I really liked it in June 🙂 It’s good to schedule that now as this planned point in time will serve as accountability with yourself.
A quarterly plan sounds like a good idea – the premise here is that 90 days plan is usually a good estimate of both ambition and capacity. We also need to create a happy space here as this is a Start in a way.
Keeping show on the road: Implementation
We can all feel motivated to ‘change our life’ right now, this year, but where to start? We do seem to get some new energy with each New Year for a week or two but then what we used to be/do start to clash with what we want to be/do and if the systems are not in place or goals are not exactly aligned with us it starts to show.
If this happens and your goals are good, reassess your systems; if systems are good re-define your goals. Or re-do the start.
Subscribe to our Newsletter to receive a helpful worksheet ‘Facilitations to your New Year Resolutions’ a really easy guide to brainstorm and choose your goals and best facilitations. This we believe is the key to make things happen as clarity, facilitation and action is still a more difficult part that creating a high energy moment.
- Which habits you started in 2020 that you are going to keep in 2021?
- Which habits did you start earlier as a result of your resolutions and which now are a part of your daily reality?
Join us at Cafe Self where we do a lot about facilitation to make things easier, done – and fun, taking thing deep and making them practical at the same time.
Best of luck and greatest of fun to you playing with our Questions to the Soul ‘Goals-Facilitations’ list for the 2021 🙂
This is an updated post originally published on the 9/01/20