Happy New Year! I have found that New Year’s resolutions seem to be like mayonnaise, olives, and mac computers, you either love them or hate them. New Year’s resolutions have gotten a negative reputation for being ineffective, and I’m here to save the resolution from its demise. The problem isn’t with resolutions themselves but with how we often set them up. Resolutions are typically aspirational but they often are not specific, measurable, or time-bound. I have experimented with a number of ways to set up resolutions effectively so they stick. The New Year is the perfect time to dream big and plan what you want to do or who you want to be intentionally. Don’t fall into the trap of throwing resolutions out as being ineffective, simply sharpen your process with these steps:
Reflect on your past year and celebrate!
Write down all of your accomplishments, successes, wins, memorable moments, or things that you are proud of from the past year. We often move so quickly to the next thing that we don’t give ourselves time to celebrate the good things. Think through all areas of your life: Career, family, home, health and wellness, financial, relationships, hobbies, adventure, community, etc.
Write down the pain points or challenges that you experienced from the past year.
What distracted you from what you wanted to do or where you wanted to spend your time this year? Did something happen that was unexpected? What did you struggle with? Again, think through all areas of your life. This could range from: I spent too much time on social media to I didn’t make enough time for friends or I didn’t prioritize sleep.
Brainstorm words, phrases, and ideas for things you would like to see in 2023.
Re-read your list of accomplishments and pain points and let them all sink in. Highlight the items that jump out to you. Write down your thoughts and ideas – no judgements. This could be items from your accomplishments that you would like to see more of. Or you could include items from your challenges that you want to work on. Don’t judge, just write it. This is a word and idea dump for all that can come to be in 2023!
Write your answer to What does success look like at the end of the year?
It’s easy for the days, months, and even years to go by without actualizing our hopes and dreams. This exercise will help crystalize your goals and priorities. Maybe it’s: Completing a triathlon; taking my parents on a vacation; writing a children’s book; having monthly 1:1s with my team at work; reading 24 books; etc. This will help you see what you want to work towards throughout the year.
Determine your priorities for the year.
Pinpoint the two or three areas you want to focus on for the year. Where do you want to focus your energies? Ideally, these priorities rose to the top when you were brainstorming around your prior year. Examples of some of my past priorities include writing, relationship with my kids, adventures, health, career, and home improvements.
Develop a theme for the year.
Everyone needs a good theme! This is your mantra and your rally cry when things get tough. It’s the word or phrase that centers you and refocuses you when you are challenged. Examples of some of my past themes include: Life’s Little Adventures; Level Up; Making Moments Matter; and Nurturing Mind, Body, and Spirit. This year is Be Fierce and Flourish.
Write SMART MONTHLY goals.
Now that you have your theme and your priorities, you are ready to set SMART goals around your priorities for January. These are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound. This breaks your annual goal into smaller bites. And it’s more fun! If your goal is to complete a triathlon this year, in January you set the goal to choose your race and start a 16-week training plan. Each month, you set and tackle new goals and get invigorated. This is the real secret to creating resolutions that last.
Build in accountability.
Share your strategy and goals with a friend or two or three! Keep your goals in a visible place and track them. Life happens. You get busy and all of a sudden your big aspirations are long forgotten. Build in the systems to keep them top-of-mind.
Remember your WHY and stick with it.
Maybe you forget to set March goals but jump right back in for April. You are going to slip up or forget or procrastinate. Here’s the deal, we often throw in the towel way too soon. Think of the long game and your overall values and priorities for the year. Even when you have a setback, you are further along than when you started. Stay the course. Just do it. And enjoy the journey.