When it comes to living the life of your dreams there’s only one way to do it. Set new goals and create new habits. Sticking to New Year resolutions – big and small may come easy to some people, but not most of us. Most of us need some sort of a system, and here’s the one that works for me.
One goal at a time
Want to know a surefire way to fail? Set too many goals. I cannot overstate this. I get it, we get excited around the new year about all the ways we could improve our lives: “I’ll wake up early, eat healthy, read a book a week, and start a blog!” but really, this just leads to overwhelm and scatters your focus.
I’m actually guilty of this myself – I have a lot going on in various areas of my life, but even I take a step back and focus on one goal at a time. Remember, you can always add focus to your other goals once the first becomes a habit.
If you’re still feeling overzealous, I guess you can start with three – just make sure that they don’t take away from one another.
My first resolution
If you’ve been following me, you know I have quite a few new year resolutions. The one I’m focusing on first – finally have an organized home. We’ll use this as the guiding example, but the steps I outline will work for any resolution. (In fact, next week I’ll show how I used this to completely quit sugar.)
First of all, although this technically is a goal, really, it’s a wish. What we need to resolve and commit to are habits.
For me, the habits I’m creating are to tidy daily and to dedicate weekly time to get through those “dedicated mess zones.”
If your goal is to lose weight, your habits may be to eat healthier and to exercise. But let’s get even more specific here. Let’s say you’ll go to three fitness classes per week and have a plant-based meal for every lunch and dinner. Now that’s specific.
Whatever your goal is – think of the specific habits that will take it from wish to reality.
What we need to resolve and commit to are habits… Think of the specific habits that will take it from wish to reality.
Get super clear on your WHY
The WHY is such a popular topic that we started throwing it around without fully thinking it through. However, it could be what makes or breaks your success. Your WHY will be your guiding light when things get uncomfortable and you start to question yourself. Your WHY will energize you when you’re feeling sorry for yourself after falling off track.
Get super clear on what outcomes you want and why you want them. How will it make you feel when all’s said and done? Why is it important to you?
For me, in terms of having an organized home, I want to feel at ease as I’m roaming through the house. I want to be proud of my home when someone comes over. I want to set a good example for my young kids, and I want that feeling of accomplishment.
Don’t kid yourself about your WHY. Be selfish if you need to. If you’re vague or you list a reason that you think just “sounds right” it won’t really motivate you.
As another example, if someone wants to lose weight, the WHY could be different for different people. One person may choose to lose weight so they feel better about chasing their kids, and another person may choose it so they can feel better in their jeans. One person may want it to prevent diabetes and another may want it to prove their naysayers wrong.
Some of these reasons may seem vain and some may seem righteous. But that’s exactly the type of thinking that keeps us stuck. Be honest about WHY your goal is important to you. If it seems selfish or vain, so be it. It’s not for anyone else to judge.
Some of these reasons may seem vain and some may seem righteous. But that’s exactly the type of thinking that keeps us stuck.
Commit to a week
That’s right. Just one week. This isn’t a “for the rest of my life” thing yet. Super short-term goals and habit changes are actually the secret to all of my success. Everytime I commit to more than a week or two, I barely even get around to it. Here’s how to make it work:
Ask yourself a question: “I wonder what would change if I stuck to this habit for a week” or even “I wonder if I CAN commit to this for a week.”
Everyone can commit to something for just one week. (If you truly don’t think you can, then commit for three days. As long as you try it.) At the end, take stock of how you feel about yourself for sticking to this habit, and ask yourself if you can commit for another week or two until it becomes a way of being.
This gives you an endpoint to look forward to. If at the end of this “challenge” you decide that it wasn’t for you, you can adjust your course or back out gracefully.
Lastly – celebrate that small win. That’s the key. Tell yourself you’ll give yourself a reward – even if it’s a guilt-free Netflix binge on a Saturday – and look forward to it, and praise yourself for sticking with it. Then rinse and repeat.
(My reward for a full week of daily tidying is a lunch date out. The ultimate in self-indulgence.)
Everyone can commit to something for just one week.
Plan for hiccups
Sure, we’re all motivated now, but what’s going to happen on the day that your toddler throws three tantrums every fifteen minutes? Hypothetical question. There will be days when you want to give up. Days when you’re sick or come home late from work. What are going to do then?
Anticipate for these days in two ways.
Designate guilt-free off-days.
Firstly, know which days can be your off days and then be off guilt-free. If one day the whole family is sick and you just want to order a pizza and eat it in bed – it’s okay. Do it, and actually enjoy it. The key is to plan your exceptions in advance. There’s a difference between saying “I planned to have a break on a day like today” and “Well I guess I failed now.”
Take a small action to keep your momentum.
Secondly, plan ahead or do something small. On days when I’m totally exhausted and can barely expend the energy to think, I plan to do a quick five-minute tidy while listening to a funny podcast. That makes me feel like I’m still taking action and won’t hurt my momentum.
What about you? If health and fitness is your goal, maybe just do a five minute stretch from Youtube and buy a pre-packaged salad. It’s not exactly a life-changing habit but it will let you say you stuck to your goal.
Don’t beat yourself up (and don’t give up)
If you fall off-track you have two options. The first is to say “Well there’s another thing I failed” and the other is “what can I do to make up for this and to prevent it from happening again?” If you were talking to your best friend, what would you say? Now say that to yourself.
If you were talking to your best friend, what would you say? Now say that to yourself.
Get re-centered on your WHY, reflect on what trigger caused your lapse, and devise a plan to go again.
You’ve probably seen the motivational poster “progress is better than perfect” and it applies to reaching your goals. Seriously. Even the act of setting and achieving goals is a work in progress.
Forgive yourself and hit the reset.
That’s it! What new year resolutions are you working on and how will you plan for your hiccups? Leave us a comment below or on Instagram. @marsandstarsbaby
(And check in next week where I show how I used this framework to quit sugar)