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A new year is a fresh start and a very welcomed fresh start after the year 2020. I made so many goals for myself for 2020 and wasn't able to reach any of them. Not a single one. I couldn't help but feel like a failure last year for not hitting those achievements. Some of them were travel-related and canceled because, um, hello 2020, but I missed the others because I didn't make them a priority. I'm giving myself extreme grace for not having the year I expected last year, and you should, too. We were all thrown a major life curveball, and surviving that is a vast accomplishment alone. All that being said, I couldn't help but feel a little nervous about making goals or resolutions for 2021 because I didn't want to set myself up to fail again. We don't know what this year has in store, but I'm going to set myself up for success when creating and sticking to my goals this year.
1. Make Goals - But Also Plans To Hit Those Goals
I think everyone gets so caught up in making the perfect resolution that they forget about the execution. The execution of HOW you're going to hit that goal is just as important if not MORE important than the goal itself. If you want to lose 25 pounds, you need to plan the steps. It could look like:
-drink more water
-cut out fast food
-go to the gym 3-5 times a week
These small, incremental goals can be implemented each week as a step closer to your overall goal. Systems mapping can be applied to any goal: starting a business, buying a rental property, paying off your car, making more friends, etc. Prioritize how you’re going to get there.
2. Make Realistic Goals - Not Overly Easy Goals
There is a lot of pressure to become "your best self" every year and make these huge resolutions to accomplish that. I would rather hit 10 smaller, attainable goals than never hit 1 huge resolution. When we look at tasks that are too big, we get overwhelmed and never begin. If you're in $20,000 worth of credit card debt, your best resolution is to pay off the debt, not to buy a house. If you're single, your best goal is to find a significant other, not get married by the end of the year. Pick goals that are still challenging but make sense for you. Don't compare your goals to anyone else's because everyone is in a different spot in life.
3. Just Start - Seriously
Perfect is the enemy of good. Finished is better than perfect. However you want to phrase it, just begin! Starting is always the hardest part. The thought of going to the gym is much worse than actually working out. We just need that spark of motivation or discipline to get us going. Once you get to the gym, you'll find you want to finish that workout because you carved that time out of your day, and you might as well finish because you are already there. Once you find your rhythm, it's easier to stay a little longer.
4. Start Small - Think Forward Progress
This is a marathon here, not a sprint. Rome wasn't built in a day, and you're not going to change anything overnight. If you go full force initially, you are more likely to get burnt out and quit altogether. If your goal is to write a book by the end of the year, start with a paragraph a day. Anyone can sit down and write a paragraph, work out for 10 minutes, cold call 2 people, etc. Once you've mastered the basics, work your way up. Write a page a day, work out for 30 minutes, cold call 8 people. You get the picture.
5. Work Smarter, Not Harder
Bettering yourself doesn't have to be torture. It should be a little uncomfortable. When you're uncomfortable, change comes. When it's torture, you quit. If you want to save $5,000 this year and think you need to give up your beloved Starbucks obsession to get there, you're mistaken. Do you have to cut back somewhere in your budget? Yes. But don't think quitting Starbucks cold turkey is the only way to get there. You could pack your lunch instead of eating out during the workweek, cancel those subscriptions you never use, stop using food delivery services because of the fees, find cheaper rent, etc. There is more than one way to accomplish a goal, and make sure it doesn't make you miserable.
6. Out of Sight Out of Mind
Most of the time, resolutions are centered around obtaining a certain metric, but sometimes goals are centered around quitting a certain behavior. If your goal is to give up smoking, stop wasting time on social media, eating fast food, etc., you need to make sure these things are not easily accessible. Put time limits on your apps, stop buying cigarettes, or keep healthy food stocked at the house. Humans are naturally going to pick the easiest behaviors, and if we make them a little more difficult, they become a little less desirable. If there are sweets in the house, I will think about them so much until I cave and eat them. If they were never any candy in the house to begin with, I wouldn't make a special trip to the store just for candy. Sometimes, all you need is to trick your brain.
When it comes to making and sticking to New Year's resolutions, it's really about quality over quantity. Write them down and refer to them often. Revise your systems to reach those goals if you find it necessary. Scrap a goal and make a new one. Use your resolutions as a guideline for your year. They aren't written in stone, so make them work for you. When you find yourself straying from your plan, ask yourself, "does this behavior support or hinder my New Year's resolutions?" You've got this!