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What I’ve Learned About Setting New Year’s Resolutions That Actually Stick

 

Wow, it’s almost 2017!! In a few days’ time we will be saying goodbye to 2016, and stepping into a new year!
I love this time of the year not only because it’s a time we all get together and spend time with our loved family and friends, eating lots of delicious food, but also because it’s a time of rest, reflection, planning and goal setting. It’s a time filled with new hope, dreams, a time when we look at the new year as a new leaf in the books of our life story.

We’ve all been there – set inspired resolutions and goals, finally ready and determined to achieve them, but despite the enthusiasm we had when setting them, they didn’t end up lasting past the first couple of weeks into the new year. Sound familiar?

I know I’ve been there. Many times, many years…

I’m addicted to self-development, I love setting ambitious goals, and am the first one to beat myself up when I don’t achieve them all. But after guilting myself for years and never really feeling enough or that I’ve done enough, I’ve learned better and as a result, I’ve been a ton happier, and have actually been able to accomplish more.

So I want to share with you what I’ve learned about making resolutions and setting goals, and how to give yourself the best chances at actually accomplishing them.

1. Set only a couple of goals, and focus on the ones that will make the most positive and desired impact on your life.

Don’t get overwhelmed with dozens and hundreds of goals. Depending on how big or small they are, you can have as many as you want and they can all be achievable in a year. Just make sure you don’t set impossible expectations, and you prioritize – at the end of the day you can only focus on a couple at a time. Choose the goals that will make the biggest difference to your life, and focus on those first.

2. Write down the initial 3-5 action steps you will need to take in order to accomplish each goal.

Setting goals is no good if you don’t actually consider what actions you have to start taking in order to get there… It’s not about seeing the whole ladder, but only the first steps. Doing this will actually dramatically increase the likelihood of accomplishing what you set to. Start thinking of the first steps that you can take to get you closer to that goal, write them down, and check them off as soon as possible. As small and as obvious as they are, write them down. This is the start of your map.

3. Take those steps as soon as you can.

The hardest part is getting started… just like Newton’s inertia principle states: an object in motion stays in motion, an object at rest stays at rest. Get started, and don’t worry if you aren’t sure yet about the next step.

4. The only time is NOW.

Yes, plan ahead and if you intend to start on 1st January, or Monday, that’s great. But make sure you actually take the action as you said you would. The time will never be perfect, and the only time that exists is the present moment. Many successful people have repeatedly stated that you need to start BEFORE you’re ready. You will never feel ready enough – there will always be more to learn, do and be.

5. Plan your failure.

The truth is that it’s unlikely that you’ll accomplish the goal without any difficulty and resistance along the way. The part of our brains that’s designed to keep us alive, is the same part that comes up with all sorts of resistance to change, and will do anything to keep you in your “comfort zone” (even if it’s not so comfortable!) – the known, which it perceives as safe.

Visualize the obstacles that might come up. Visualize how you will deal with them. Visualize the temptations that will come up – and plan how you will deal with them. Also, more likely than not, you will fail at least once…

6. And when you fail, dust yourself off and try again.

Seriously. Too often I’ve seen people go all in or nothing. They start an exercise regime, a new eating plan, and then one day they don’t stick to the plan, they have that forbidden cookie or they feel like sitting on the sofa and watching a movie instead of going to the gym as usual. This is followed by immense guilt, regret, and completely giving up on the goal.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Life is not perfect, and neither are you, so expect to fail. And you shouldn’t feel bad or guilty for it… you are not designed to be perfect so stop setting unrealistic expectations of yourself and putting so much pressure on.

It’s okay to have an unhealthy treat if you were tempted. It’s okay if you skipped one day of working out. Allow yourself the space to step outside of your own rules once in a while. And then just get back on track the next day.

Each day, each moment, is a new blank canvas and only you decide if the picture on it will be the same as the one of the past.

Taking that approach ensures you stay focused on the longer-term picture and have a chance at achieving those bigger picture goals, and not getting discouraged by the small short-term “failures”.

So whatever you dream of achieving this year, just remember that you can – you can do or be anything, no matter what anyone else says. Just write it down, make the commitment, feel as if it’s already done, and take the action steps necessary NOW. I really hope that this helps you to make 2017 the year your goals become reality. Just please promise me you’ll take it easy on yourself – you’re awesome either way! 🙂

 

If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it with your friends and family – it might make a huge difference to how 2017 goes for them!

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