Year after year, millions of Americans set New Year’s Resolutions, but most of them do not stick. By setting ourselves up for failure, we create traditional goal-oriented resolutions that don’t help us get clear on who we want to be or shine light on how we want to show up for others in our life, our career, and for ourselves. By focusing on the person we want to be at the end of 2017 and achievable weekly steps, we can finally design New Year’s Resolutions with ease and embody them on a daily basis.
I found this out three years ago when I first started setting New Year’s Resolutions. I designed goals for multiple areas of my life including my career, my relationships, and my self-care. Despite my efforts, I quickly learned that goal-oriented resolutions set us up for failure, self-judgement, and frustration. My resolutions became obstacles to my growth and a regular source for my inner critic to feed off of.
Rather than starting at a goal of getting a certain raise at work, for example, successful resolutions come from being clear on who we want to be and how we want to show up in our everyday interactions. Once I got clear on who I wanted to be, I was able to uncover what I truly wanted to create in my life. Here’s how you can start designing New Year’s resolutions that will stick:
1. Start With How You Want To Feel In 2017
The book The Desire Map, by author and inspirational speaker Danielle La Porte and based on the teachings of Abraham-Hicks, was a game-changer for me. She emphasizes the importance of understanding how you want to feel in your life. By focusing on how I want to feel each year, I get clear on what I really want.
To do this, take out a journal to write, or close your eyes and follow your imagination through meditation. Imagine that December 31, 2017 is going to be your best day of your best year to date. Reflect on the following question:
How do I want to feel on this best day? Energized? Inspired? Thoughtful?
Keep asking yourself the question for some time to connect with the feeling and listen to what you hear yourself say. Write down the first feelings that come up. Looking at your list, circle the ones that feel most true to you.
2. Imagine Who You Would Need To Be
One of the keys to completing resolutions is to understand the kind of person you need to be to follow through. This is more than not procrastinating or keeping good time management, for example. Traditional productivity practices fall short because they merely manage goals rather than bring them to life. In order to follow through on resolutions, we must know the experience of the achievement.
With your mind in December 31, 2017, again through writing in a journal or by closing your eyes in meditation, imagine who would you need to be if you felt these feelings? For example, if you want to feel energized, what qualities would you leave behind in a room if people were asked to describe you? Would you go running several times a week to stoke your energy? Eat differently? Pick up that childhood hobby you dropped 10 years ago? Who would you need to be to feel what you want to feel at the end of 2017? Write down a list of what comes to your mind.
3. Choose 1-3 Goals To Create This Feeling
By focusing on just 1-3 annual goals, you will set yourself up for success. With goals connected to who you want to be at the end of 2017, you’ll feel motivated to follow through with a clear understanding of how your goals that will help you become the person you want to be. Taking what you wrote down from the first two steps, complete a brain-dump for the goals you would need to fulfill.
Set a timer for 10 minutes and write down every goal that comes to your mind. Take a five minute break and step away from your list. Return and set a timer for 10 minutes again. Ask yourself the question: what 1-3 goals are game-changers and would have the most impact to create the December 31, 2017 I imagined? Circle these goals.
4. Identify Small Steps To Take On A Weekly Basis
To ensure your goals do not become a someday in the future concept, identify small steps you can take now. Limit yourself to the span of the next seven days and then repeat this reflection each week. Small consistent steps build momentum for huge change. And because your resolutions are now oriented around who you want to be at the end of 2017, you will slowly modify your mindset and behavior.
Looking at the goals that you circled, consider what 1-3 steps you can do in the next seven days that take less than 30 minutes to complete. It’s important to create realistic, achievable goals. Putting a limit on the number of steps to complete, and the time to complete them will set you up for success. Put the steps you identified in your weekly to-do list/calendar and schedule. Repeat this practice on a weekly basis to build incremental success.
5. Acknowledge Your Success
Our minds are trained to look for problems. While this problem-solving mindset can be helpful under certain circumstances, it often stops us from following through on our goals. This creates a scarcity mindset, as our minds focus on what we have yet to accomplish, or what went wrong in our follow-through.
By acknowledging what you have completed, you gather momentum to keep going. Acknowledgement fuels your ability to keep positive commitments. So take five minutes at the end of each day or week to acknowledge what you have done. What actions did you take? What feelings did you honor? You can reflect on these mentally or write them down.