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It’s January, so if your social media looks anything like mine, you have seen about 35 gazillion blog articles telling you that 2020 means “new year, new you.” The pressure is on to set our New Year resolutions, and the usual suspects keep cropping up: go to the gym 3 times a week, eat a healthy breakfast every day, read 12 books before the end of the year, etc. Those are all great ideas and, sure, we should all do them. But for many of us, those goals just ring hollow, and by the time February rolls around, we simply burn out and move on.
Are you looking to make some resolutions that actually stick? Maybe it’s time to rethink the way that we choose them. Here are some steps any of us can take to knock 2020 (and beyond!) out of the park:
Visualize who you want to be
Do you ever just let yourself dream about who you will be in a year? In three years? In five? In the last few months, have you been able to make space to simply visualize yourself happy and fulfilled and living a life you like? If not, take some time to do that. Try not to get hung up on how you will get there, or when, or if it even really feels possible right now. Just dream about your future for a second with no restrictions. Who is that person? What are they doing that brings them so much joy? Where do they live and work? Who are the people around them? Hold onto that image for a moment.
Look for the deeper why
Now that you have this image of your future self, figure out why it matters to you. What do you feel when you see yourself this way? Which of your personal values does this vision satisfy? For example, if you see yourself owning your own home, maybe it makes you feel comfortable or secure. Maybe it’s the sense of financial stability or predictability in at least one area of your life that feels right to you. You may value these things more than you realized. Spending time understanding why something feels important or valuable to you will give your vision more teeth.
Make an action plan
Only once you’ve given yourself enough time to just sit with your vision, enough time to internalize it and just enjoy the way it makes you feel, should you begin to think about how you’ll accomplish it. This is where you will really create your New Year’s resolutions. Start with your vision and think of incremental steps toward making it real. Let’s say you visualize yourself starting your own company in three years. What are some things you can do in 2020 to get started? Should you take some business classes to round out your knowledge? Should you test your product or idea with people in your community? Should you network with people who would be a good support system as you get started? Choose a few immediate things you can do to feel like you are making progress toward your long-term vision for yourself and always keep in mind your deeper why for pursuing it.
Track your progress & celebrate wins
The nice thing about New Year’s resolutions like “only dine out once a week” is that they are easily measured, nicely contained goals. But, if you don’t have a deeper why behind them, if you don’t have a long term goal reinforcing the resolution, it just ends up feeling a bit meaningless to you. It becomes incredibly easy to quit. As you get started on your action plan for your long-term vision, it will be very important to track your progress in measurable ways. Break off chunks of tasks within your resolution and make a plan for when you expect to complete them. Not only will this show you that you’re on track, but you’ll also be able to give yourself some much-deserved celebrations along the way.
So what does this really look like? Here’s an example of a resolution you might make in this way:
Vision: I want to run a 5k by the end of the year, and then run in a 5k event once a month from then on.
Deeper why: I want to be healthy and fit so I can live longer and be more engaged with my children and grandchildren. I really value my family.
Action plan: Download an app on my phone that coaches me up to a 5k and use it three times a week. Find a running buddy who can help hold me accountable to my vision. Only treat myself to dessert once a week.
Tracking & celebration plan: Review my workout results on my app every week. If my distance has improved from last week, I get to buy myself something that costs $25 or less to celebrate. If I run one extra day that week, I can bump that amount up to $50.
This is just one way to think differently about New Year’s resolutions. If it resonates with you, give it a try and see if you get better results than you have in previous years. 2020 is going to be a great year for you, so get excited for what’s to come!