New Year Resolutions. Many make them. Some are in earnest. Some are wishful thinking. We start out with the best of intentions to do something different that will make us happier and somehow a better version of ourselves. Many discard their New Year Resolutions before the end of February. Why does this happen? The answer is because change is always hard to achieve and sustain even when we want it. At any time of the year, it takes courage, discipline and effort to introduce and build new habits. Ironic then that we choose the darkest, coldest and wettest season to take on the challenge of change. No wonder many give up and revert to old behaviours.
But not you. You know it is entirely possible to accomplish your goals in 2020. What’s required is a clear purpose, a well-constructed action plan and the determination to make it happen. Then you are unstoppable.
The key to achieving your objectives is careful preparation. Consider what might derail or motivate you. Then you can act ahead of time to avoid adverse triggers and seek out the things that sustain you. You know that it will still be hard work. You will encounter failure along the way. You will be tempted to give up especially on the dark days your inner critic slyly whispers that it is just not worth the effort. Many people struggle with negative self-talk which feeds on the fear of appearing foolish or, worse, a failure. You’ll shake this off by maintaining a gritting resolve and confident belief that if you can imagine it, you can work hard to make it happen.
Here are some tips to help you on the journey to success in 2020:
Let go of the harmful activities, negative thoughts and toxic relationships that hold you back. Choose that which supports and sustains your health, happiness and wellbeing. Be courageous in your choices and banish self-doubt.
Define the specific outcome that you want. Imagine in detail what it will take to deliver this successfully. Note down the steps you will make. List the support that you will need from other people and the resources and time it will take. Think about what you might offer in return for their help (they will have dreams of their own).
Be realistic. Perhaps there are half a dozen outcomes or more that you desire. Which of these do you want? How hard are you prepared to work for it? Be truthful: this is no time for self-deception. Got it? Great. That’s the one on which to focus all your enthusiasm, energy and effort.
Get organised. Take time to sort out your plan. Try using a personal SWOT analysis to identify your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Then review and map your moves to bring to life the activities that will lead to your stated goal.
Execute your plan exceptionally well. Write down what you are going to do and by when. Break activities into smaller chunks so that you are not swayed from your purpose by it all seeming too much.
Find a buddy. Seeking support and communicating your intentions at the outset will help motivate and keep you honest. Pay it back by offering to buddy them on their own goals.
Celebrate the little successes along the way. It can make all the difference in maintaining momentum when things get tough. Try setting up a series of motivational emails to remind you to keep going. It is simple to do in advance by selecting the ‘delay delivery’ option in Outlook.
Practice self-compassion. If you stumble along the way, view it as part of the process of change. The important thing is to get back on track. Learn from the experience and move on. Use Reflective Practice to help you gain perspective and insight. Just focus on ‘what happened’, then consider ‘so what does it tell me’ and finally focus on the action planning question ‘now what will I do to improve my chance of success’.
Remember that a goal is just a hope and a wish without a plan. It takes preparation, grit and determined effort bring it all together.