by Tris Thorp: If you’ve ever listed New Year’s resolutions only to find that they wither away moments after the New Year has sprung…
there could be an issue with your approach to setting your goals. No, it probably isn’t a matter of your having an inherent inability to achieve the things you want.
The end of the calendar year marks the time of bringing one year to an end while simultaneously ramping up to make the coming year your best yet. Emotionally speaking, it can be a challenging time, as you reflect on all that you set out to do while also taking into account all the things that occurred during the year. You had such high hopes back in January that this was going to be “your year,” but you may not have hit your goals—in part because life happens and in part because you didn’t stay focused on accomplishing what you’d set out to do.
Your Resolution Strategy
Year after year, you dream of becoming, achieving, and receiving that which your heart desires. Yet you land in a heap, feeling disheartened and resentful toward yourself and the world when you fail to succeed in such endeavors? Perhaps the answer lies in your strategy for how you approach setting goals in the first place.
To start, you must first remember that if one person has accomplished the same feat you’re setting out for, then it’s possible for you to accomplish the same. Statistical probability confirms this. The next thing to consider is that you often set your aim high—which is exactly what you should do—yet you take on too much too soon and it becomes overwhelming FAST!
Stick with the Simple
You may have all but forgotten the power of simplicity. You’re conditioned to chase more success, advanced technologies, and rapid evolution that doesn’t require sitting in meditation or expressing gratitude. You may fail to remember that the ancient teachings guided you to do one thing at a time until you mastered it. Only then were you permitted to move to the next lesson. Today’s world, on the other hand, has you multitasking and sprinting about to such a degree you’re not able to keep up and, instead of reaching enlightenment, you’re circling the drain.
The problem with going hard and fast right out of the gate is that you’re unable to sustain the energy necessary to maintain the momentum; you crash hard. Within a short time, you’re on the couch with a pint of Häagen-Dazs watching Netflix to “recharge” before resigning yourself back to the worn-out routine you entrenched yourself in the previous year. Not to mention, you fall into a funk because you find yourself back where you were last year and the year before. This does a number on your mindset, emotions, and, eventually, your physical body.
Aim Big, but Be Realistic
When setting goals for the new year—and any other time—it’s important to go big and aim high. There is no question about that. If you woke up today, there is a reason for it, and that reason is because you’re needed in this world. You have a purpose and your contribution is constantly being woven into the history of humanity. So YES!—go big with your dreams and aspirations.
What you want to do, however, is set up a realistic action plan for how you’re going to create steady, consistent momentum to get there. Not a random list of all the stuff you want to accomplish in no particular order or without knowing why, specifically, you’re setting out to achieve it. (“Just because” isn’t a good enough reason.) So, let’s break this down—one thing at a time—in an effort to get you rolling in the right direction.
What Is Your Inspiration? Why?
First, take a close look at something you want to do in the new year. Start with one thing. Now, begin to explore your initial inspiration (FYI, the word inspiration comes from the Latin word inspirata, which is said to be the aspect of your soul) for this thing.
- Will it help you to evolve in your relationships?
- Will it grant you social status?
- Is it on your bucket list because you feel excitement when you travel?
- Do you enjoy your creative outlets because they connect you to a deeper part of yourself?
What is your inspiration? What is your why? Knowing where the initial spark came from and why it’s meaningful to you will be the driving force behind you getting there. It’s going to be the fuel in your tank, so to speak.
Check Your Mindset
For this to work, your head needs to be in the right place. Your mindset and beliefs will have a direct impact on you sustaining your initial motivation to move on this goal. You must carry within you the belief the result is possible. You must believe, in your heart and soul, that you are destined to achieve this thing you desire so much so that your mental efforts will result in acceptable performance and action, and that the performance and action will lead to your desired result or reward.
Visual rehearsal of seeing yourself having crossed the finish line can be a worthwhile practice to work into your daily routine. What you focus your energy and attention on grows stronger. Be sure that your focus is 100 percent positive!
Line Up the Dominoes
Now that you know where you’re headed, you have a clear understanding of what motivates and inspires you to get there, and your mindset is polished and prepared, it’s time to create an action plan—a realistic one! The idea is to get you working on one thing at a time to build a steady climb. Aesop’s fable The Tortoise and the Hare tells you who wins the race—and why.
Here is where you set your milestones, which are critical benchmarks that indicate you’ve made progress and you’re tracking toward your desired outcome. Milestones are specific targets you hit along the way. To make them more fun, consider setting up a reward system for yourself so that when you reach a milestone you’re able to celebrate in some way. Never underestimate the value of reward. Make the reward a good one!
This is the big moment where you’ve set your target, you’ve identified your benchmarks, and how you will celebrate as you get closer. It’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. This is where people often fall off because you’ve gotten lazy or complacent and are already in the habit of saying “I’ll do it later.” That, or you’ve piled on too much at once. While looking at your milestones, identify one action, practice, or support structure you can put in place that will slowly condition you to build strength, stamina, focus, and momentum. Do this while keeping your dreams and aspirations in clear view in front of you. Then DO it!
Additional Tips for Keeping the Fire Going
Some additional tips to help light the proverbial fire include:
- Picking up the book The Slight Edge by entrepreneur Jeff Olson and reading a chapter each week. It will help you stay motivated to do the small things every day to keep you moving forward.
- Keeping your inspiration—your WHY—someplace where you can see it every single day. Read it every morning and affirm to yourself that you’re committed to taking action on one thing each day.
- Having a coach or an accountability buddy you can check in with daily or weekly.
Remember that it will always serve you in the long run to keep things simple. Go back to the basics and be sure your foundation is rock solid beneath you. Then, once you’ve successfully woven one or two things into your daily routine and you feel you can take on something new, add something new in. If it helps, buy a hard copy of The Tortoise and the Hare and prop it up in your office where you can see it and feel inspired to move slowly and with focused intention.