At the beginning of each new year most of us make resolutions that we believe will improve our lives and lead us to become better human beings. It’s a fresh start, a brand new year with infinite possibilities. It’s finally our chance to step up to the plate and get things done without the baggage of the previous 364 days weighing us down. The problem is, out of the ~60% of Americans that usually make new year’s resolutions, only 8% are successful in achieving them. This is a pretty depressing statistic, but here’s the flip side: People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t.
So assuming that you’re looking to make some changes for the better in 2015, here are some tips for making your new year’s resolutions more meaningful and improving your chances of accomplishing them.
Step 1: Reflect. Be grateful.
The first step is also the most important – before you begin making lists of ways you want to improve in the upcoming year, take some time to appreciate what you already have. Make a gratitude list highlighting the people, experiences and things in your life that you’re thankful for. Giving thanks makes you a happier person, and that effect resonates throughout your life. Really dig in and push yourself to come up with as many things as you can. It is not often that we take a moment to appreciate our ability to breathe fresh air in almost every moment of our existence. Reflect on your strengths, your passions, your successes.
Step 2: Love thyself. You are complete.
Now that you’ve reflected upon all that you have to be grateful for, take a moment to realize that you are a complete human.
No change in finances, weight, ability or relationship status will make you any more or less complete than you feel now.
There is no external ‘thing’ that can make you whole, no change you can make – it only comes from within and you already have it. Love who you are now and build upon that foundation to grow in the ways you see fit – you got this.
Step 3: Do it for the passion. Forget the numbers.
When you’re formulating your goals for 2015, don’t you dare put ‘lose 20 pounds’ because although you may think that is what you want to accomplish, it’s not. Another terrible goal is ‘save $2,000’. Why? It’s focusing on meaningless numbers that don’t stand for anything in their own right. To make it stick, refocus your goal around the lifestyle that will create the end result that you want.
If money is your goal, you’ll never feel like you have enough.
The question that you must ask is: For what? I’ve made it no secret that I hate going to a gym to work out. I don’t enjoy pushing a bar up and down to build muscle and I end up getting bored and stopping. In order to solve this problem, in August, 2014 I started rock climbing at Vertical Endeavors. It has drastically changed the way I view exercise, because 2-3x per week I go there and physically ‘play’ like a kid would. I’ve lost 10% of my bodyweight since then, but only as the result of finding a passion for climbing, not because I was trying to lose weight. Any motivation I do have to lose weight comes from the fact that lifting myself up a wall gets a lot easier the less I weigh. My resolutions are focused on how many pullups I can do and what level of wall I’ll be able to climb by the end of 2015. Focus on finding a passion and design your lifestyle goals around it.
Step 4: Make it actionable. Make it real.
Using basic organizational development practices, your goals should be: Specific, measurable, time-sensitive, attainable, and focused on a result. Below the specific goal, list what will be necessary for you to accomplish this goal. Based on the rock climbing example, this is what one of my resolutions might look like:
Do 10 full pull ups without putting my feet down at all, by March, 2015.
– Do three sets of max rep pull-ups every time I’m at the climbing gym
– Go to the climbing gym a minimum of 2 times per week
– Drink a protein shake immediately after climbing to help build strength
The exact example may not apply to your goals, but this shows an appropriate resolution that breaks down what is needed to achieve.
Step 5: Start now. Start small.
If you’re reading this before January 1st, there is no better way to make your 2015 resolutions happen than starting on them right now. This is urgent – we only have this present moment and it does not matter what you did yesterday and it does not matter what you plan to do tomorrow. Do something RIGHT NOW that will get you towards one of your goals even if it’s seemingly small. Want to exercise more? Get up and do 10 air squats RIGHT NOW. Don’t let false first step syndrome prevent you from accomplishing your goals.
Done? Alright now comes the party.
Step 6: Celebrate success. Big and small.
We really don’t celebrate enough, do we? When you have a victory either big or small, celebrate it. Take time to appreciate the success you’ve made and get some endorphins flowing. When you celebrate the accomplishments that you make, the positive behaviors that caused the success to happen become reinforced. Did you do the 10 air squats? If you did, celebrate it by doing a sweet dance move or listening to a song that will totally get you amped up.
Step 7: Stay Positive. If you fall, get back up.
If you messed up yesterday or failed to make progress to your goal, always stay positive. I cannot reiterate enough that there is only this moment. Do what you can right now to work towards your goals and you will effectively rock 2015 to the fullest.