6 Steps to New Year’s Resolutions that Stick
Who loves to make a New Year’s Resolution (NYR) list? Me! Who makes a list so long it would take several years to accomplish? Me! Who abandons their list after a few months? Me! That was until I learned how to change my “resolution list making” into a more achievable, positive mindset of making lifestyle changes.
With technology and social media it is easier than ever to not only make a list but to actually visualize the changes you want to make. I will break it down into 6 easy steps. You can do this old school with paper and pen/pencil, or use a word processing application (such as Word) or if you are really into it a spreadsheet.
Let’s begin -
Make a list of what you want your life to look like in 3 years. Yes - I know we are working on NYR for next year, but hang with me here. Make your list as long as you like and be specific. Do you want to pay off a loan or maybe be totally debt free? Maybe become healthier - losing weight is often a popular one! But do you just want to lose weight or do you also want to lower your blood pressure and/or cholesterol? Do you want to decrease body fat or gain muscle? Do you want a new house, a new car? Or maybe you want to travel more - where and how often? Do you want to retire or achieve a new position or different job? Have a baby or adopt? Be more involved in church or other volunteer activities? Dream big - these are your dreams - what you want your life to look like in 3 years.
Now I want you to take that list and group what your listed into no more than 5 broad categories. This might look like Financial, Health, Travel, Personal Growth, Giving Back - etc. Look for trends in what you listed and group them under a heading you think broadly describes them.
This next step is my favorite. Did you ever have an assignment in high school or college making a “mood or inspiration” board? This is simply pictures or images for inspiration and ideas. There are several applications you could use, but I'll talk about my fav - Pinterest. Make a “board” for each of your broad categories. Then “pin” (if you are using Pinterest) pictures in each board that represent the goals on your list, what you want your life to look like in 3 years. Make your board private if you are not ready to share. If one of your goals was travel, you might pin pictures of specific places you want to visit, or it may be themes (beach, mountains, etc.). If your goal is a new job or position, what does that look like visually to you? This is your board - post as many images as you like.
Now choose 1-3 of those broad categories to prioritize to work on in the next year. So why did I have you narrow down to 5 and now I’m asking you to choose 1-3? Have you heard the saying “A rising tide lifts all boats”? If you begin making changes in a few areas of your life it will flow over into other areas of your life. If you spread yourself too thin, or work to change too many things at once - you will become exhausted and might be left feeling unsuccessful and defeated. Focus on the things most important to you.
Your next step is to describe your 1-3 priorities in the context of having achieved them. For example, if your goal is to become debt free, your statement could be “I am debt free”. If you goal is to exercise more, your statement could be “I am an athlete”. This may seem silly to you, but it is an important step. Most of us tell ourselves negative things constantly (any one relate to this?). “You will never speak to anyone as much as you speak to yourself in your head”. What are you telling yourself? We need to speak words of encouragement and affirmation to ourselves.
With your 1-3 positive descriptive statements, set intentions for each month of the year for what step or steps you will take in the direction of those statements. Give yourself permission to make these “baby steps” and build on them each month. Think about where you are currently on your journey and what step you can take each month to take you closer to where you want to be.
As an example “I am a traveler”
January - determine budget for travel and how much money to set aside each month
February - select 2 destinations
March - select dates for the 2 trips
April - make reservations for the 1st trip and set itinerary
Continue this for each month of the year. Your steps will vary based on what works for your life. Also remember to be flexible! Things change, life happens. You will learn and grow in the process.
You can see why now why I said select 1-3 things to focus on. You are going to be making monthly actionable steps to bring you closer to where you want to be.
Keep your mood/inspiration board visible and tweak it to continually reflect where you are headed.
Give yourself permission to work through this as your time allows. You may have the luxury to spend hours on it, or you may be lucky to have 5 minutes! You may want to do one step at a time to give thought to your dreams. Do what works best for you.
I would love to hear how this works for you and what you are working towards. Feel free to post. Cheers to you and the New Year!