The ball has dropped, the confetti has been tossed and hopefully you're recovering from the holiday fog. After weeks of celebrations and festivities, we come to that time of the season when we all start fresh…the new year. And with the new year comes resolutions. Did you make some new year's resolutions? More and more Americans are choosing to NOT set resolutions. Why? Because you and I both know that the sooner we make them, the sooner we are bound to give up on them. Don't believe me? Just look at the gym on January 2nd and 3rd compared to January 22nd and 23rd.
I've been there….I've done it too! You come out of the gate ready to take on the world, only to find yourself clutching the remote and binge watching Netflix. When it comes to meeting and keeping resolutions, there are some proven reasons why you lose steam and ambition to cross the finish line. Let's take a look at a few:
- You've bitten off more than you can chew - I have done this more times than I can count. I tend to overestimate what I can do and the time frame in which I can do it in. I get lots of great ideas and I am easily tempted to chase each one of them down. I believe I can do it all. However, no matter how hard I try, there is still just 24 hours in my day. It's great to want to shoot for the moon, but it's also better to know that you have a clear, executable plan to get there and back. Instead of just running ahead on each idea or goal, break that goal into action steps you would need to take. Identify how much time is needed for each action step and literally block that out on the calendar. Is this a realistic timeline? Do you really have the hours to devote to it? If not, don't scrap the idea completely. Determine if there is a paired down version you can start with or if there is a way to baby-step into it, something that is more conducive with your schedule.
- This isn't looking like what you wanted - Your plan for action and the goal you want to hit looks great on day one. But 4 or 5 weeks into it, things are not shaping out the way you had envisioned. Maybe the path is taking you to an end result you don't really like. Maybe what you thought you wanted then isn't what you want now. Maybe life came along and realigned your priorities or desires. All of this is natural — you are entitled to change your mind. Just a word of warning: Don't try to believe something has lost it's appeal for other reasons when in reality you want to quit because it's hard. Don't flake out or settle for something less just because the going gets tough. However, if you feel you are headed for a finish line that doesn't satisfy, it's OK to course correct. Remember, in all things be true to yourself.
- Your measuring stick is warped — Tracking and measuring your resolution path is an important part of the journey, after all, you need to know if you are on track to finish how and when you want. But when you measure your success against others' end result or even the pace they are running, you can put yourself through a beating. Don't judge yourself against other people. Their journey is theirs… yours is yours. I tell myself, “Don't celebrate the pace, celebrate the direction.” Take a good look at your progress and the direction you're heading. If you can see that you are running, walking or even crawling in the right direction… that is something to feel good about. Keep going. Don't fall into the trap that your success should look like everyone else's. You'll chart your own course and arrive right on schedule if you keep to your plan.
- You've lost steam because you have no fire — Small goals that don't push us rarely keep us sustained. We tend to tap out of goals that just don't get the blood pumping. You want a goal that sets your heart on fire, that makes it beat just a bit faster, that comes with the emotion of great desire. If you set the bar too low, your fire burns out and there's no steam where there's no heat. If there's not enough of a challenge to hold your interest, it's time to push yourself for just a bit more. Ask someone close to you to help you dream a little bit bigger. Often times we don't shoot for more because we are afraid to miss the mark. It's OK. Fear is a totally normal emotion in this scenario. The trick is to channel your fear into activity that gets you moving. Fight back that fear knowing your plan, when fully executed, will lead you to success.
- You've boarded the excuse train and it's left the station — Excuses are a no-go. If you're giving yourself a pass, you're not doing yourself any favors. It's easy to blame an upset in your routine, a planned activity that didn't get off the ground, a well-thought out set of action steps that got put on hold due to a kid being sick or some other “life” happening. But in those instances, don't stop. Don't let those become excuses. Find ways to do it anyway or if nothing else, a revamped version of your plan that day or week. Even a little progress is better than none, so jump off the excuse train and pitch a tent in the town of persistence… keep working, keep doing, keep going.
- Your goal and you are estranged — When you don't revisit your goal regularly, it's easy to lose sight of what you're working for. Yes, you may be chugging away at the action steps, but sitting down and spending time with your goal will refuel the passion you had at the beginning and keep you motivated to work. Siting down means grabbing your journal, vision board, dream poster — or whatever you've used to create a visual picture and reminder of what it is you're working for. It means sitting still for a moment to imagine living in the space where that goal has been accomplished. What will it mean to you? What will it feel like? Why is it important? This brief moment, spent regularly (I suggest weekly) will keep the emotional fire stoked in your gut and you motivated to keep pushing to the end.
- You've kept your goal a secret — You've gotta get vocal about the goal you're working on! Others need to know what it is you are shooting for. Do you know someone who has already achieved the goal you want to achieve? Reach out to them for their advice and feedback — after checking in with yourself about how you can improve, why not get an expert opinion on how to get where you want to go? You can show them your plan, ask them questions about their experience, and learn from their wisdom and mistakes. Sometimes bringing a second set of eyes is just the thing to bring your plan to perfection. And… when you share your goal, you are sure to get some accountability to help you make it across the finish line.
I highly recommend blocking out some time soon to do a little goal setting for the new year if you haven't already. You don't have to do it all in one day… you can take a few hours here and there. But, don't wait for next year's ball to drop to decide you want to create some goals. Start on it now so you have time to make the most of 2019!