ALREADY FAILED ON YOUR NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION? HERE'S WHY IT DOESN'T ACTUALLY MATTER...
Jan 13, 2021
Well, here we are halfway through the first month of the new year...how many of us have already failed at those New Year's resolutions we set a week and a half ago? In my early 20s, I worked in a chocolate shop, and I remember our business would go way down in the new year as people cut chocolate (of all things!) out of their lives, but it would steadily build back up as customers returned, sometimes with slightly guilty looks on their faces as they strayed away from their resolutions. Today, I'll share why a New Year's resolution was never actually the way to achieve your goal and what you can do instead.
Let me tell you a secret...
This may come as a surprise (but I know you're a smart cookie, so it probably won't), but there's nothing magic about January 1st that makes it easier to set and stick to a goal. Sure, it feels like magic and goal-achieving pixie dust is in the air, especially when you scroll through social media and see all of the posts about people spending a full day planning out their ideal year, sharing all the lessons they learned last year, and getting hyped up their goals to make this year the *best one yet.* I was there too, scrolling all those same posts, and I found myself cringing at all of the "I'm going to _______ every single day this year" that I saw.
The reality is, sometimes we set these new year goals just because they sound good and not because we actually value and prioritize them. And then, we over-commit ourselves to them by promising we'll go from doing them, well, ZERO days of the week to doing them every single day for 365 days in a row. What could go wrong?
Let's talk today about how to set a goal you'll actually commit to -- anytime of the year.
To start with, you need to get honest with yourself about what you really want. Don't get swept up into setting goals just because everyone else is doing it. If you set a goal, whether it's a fitness goal, a financial goal, a relationship goal, or any other kind of goal, and you don't actually care about creating that outcome in your life, what do you think the odds are that you'll attain it? Instead, think about what goal would make the biggest difference to you. What would you feel proudest of looking back on it a year from now? What has the biggest potential to change your life? It doesn't matter if it isn't what everyone else is talking (or Instagramming) about. As long as you are being honest with yourself, that's your goal to focus on.
Next, it's time to brainstorm. Get specific about all of the little things you can do to achieve that goal. If you want to read more, maybe that means reading while you brush your teeth. If it's exercise, maybe you can do a few yoga poses while your coffee is brewing. If it's connecting more with your loved ones, maybe it's texting someone while you're in the bathroom — we all know you already had your phone with you in there. Look for opportunities to add this goal to the activities that are already part of your daily routine. It will more naturally become a new part of your routine, and it's a gentler transition than immediately expecting yourself to set aside hours at a time.
Take one (small) action
Now, let's get practical. Actually do one of those little things that you wrote down today. Five minutes today is better than the promise of an hour tomorrow. After you do that, write another one of those little steps on your to-do list or calendar for tomorrow, and commit to prioritizing it. There's no need to get too intense at this point, adding the action in as a recurring task every single day for the rest of your life -- unless that excites you! The point of all of this is to not overwhelm yourself, to learn to keep your commitments that you make to yourself, and to listen to what motivates and excites you as you learn what you're capable of.
Aim for embodiment, not perfection
Don't aim for perfection, but aim to make this habit or goal a valued part of your life. Speaking from personal experience, I've (eventually) failed at everything that I've tracked obsessively. You may know the apps that I'm referring to, the ones that keep track of streaks of how many days in a row you use the app (yes, I'm looking at you, overly bossy Duolingo owl). Those streaks can be highly motivating...until you break them and have to start over again from zero. I've seen 90 day streaks, 150 day streaks disappear simply because I was feeling under the weather, traveling, or just had an off day. And do you think I picked the app up again the next day to start the streak all over again? Well, if I was motivated by the streak, then no way! Starting over again from zero would feel terrible. So what is the solution? Instead, embody the identity that you are aiming for. For me, that means that whether I have a streak in an app or not, I know deeply that I AM someone who is learning Turkish. And I AM someone who values meditation. I don't need an app or a perfect record to remind me of that. And the same is true for you. You ARE ________, whether you do it every single day or not. Step into that new identity and claim it for yourself.