As this episode is airing, it’s the end of 2021. We’re in the thick of the holiday season. So why am I talking about New Year’s resolutions now? We haven’t even gotten through Christmas yet.
As the end of the year is wrapping up, it’s an ideal time to reflect on how your year has gone. Did it go as expected? Did you accomplish everything you set out to do?
Do you set resolutions every New Year? How many of those do you actually achieve?
Research has shown that only 8% of people keep their New Year’s resolutions and 80% of people have already failed by February.
What’s the difference between resolutions and goals? Resolutions are something you decide to do or not do. A goal is an aim or objective that you work toward with effort and determination. Goals are more specific. There is an objective, and a why and how it will be accomplished. An indicator of success is going a step further and turning a resolution into a goal with specific actionable steps.
Here’s an example: a popular resolution is to lose weight. That is something to do. But a goal version of that is to set a more specific objective. Whether someone decides on a certain amount of weight they want to lose or size of clothes they want to fit into, there could be a specific goal that’s set. Then deciding on the why and the how makes it more achievable. To feel better or have more energy or to have better long term health could be some examples of why. The how could be following a certain type of diet or exercising a set number of days each week. Let’s just say, like many other people, that this one is on my list each year in one way or another.
Besides getting specific with setting goals, another indicator of success is actually writing them down. Just thinking about resolutions or goals doesn’t mean a whole lot in terms of sticking to them. Having a written list can help you have a record of what your priorities were at the beginning of the year and have something to look back on and reassess as time goes on.
Write it down on paper. Keep it somewhere you remember and can look at periodically and reassess if it’s still important to you or how well you’re doing toward achieving that goal. If you’re already in the habit of journaling, add it to your journal. If it’s easy to have on your phone, write it in your notes app.
Several years ago and for a few years in a row, I would take some time on New Year’s Eve to write down resolutions I wanted to set for the new year in my phone app. And every year I would inevitably copy down many of the same ones I had set the previous year. So why bother making a list of resolutions if I’m not going to keep them?
If you find yourself in the same boat, so why not try a different way? Have you heard of choosing a word of the year? Or maybe a theme or intention for the year?
The idea with this is to narrow down to one overarching theme for what you want to focus on for the year.
Maybe it’s a verb with action or more of a noun that brings a feeling to how you want your year to look.
I’ll give you an example of a word of the year we chose a few years ago. In 2018, we were living in Saint Louis. We had met so many people that we loved and also loved a lot of things about the area but knew that was not where we wanted to put down long lasting roots. We had two little kids that were creeping up to school age and wanted to try to figure out where we wanted to be for the long term. We decided that that was the year we were going to get serious about it. So that year, my husband and I chose the word “moving” as our intention for the year. It actually had multiple meanings. We wanted to move out of Saint Louis and figure out where we wanted to be long term and buy a house and be settled before our kids started school. We also wanted to be better about incorporating exercise into our days—so “moving” physically as well. And moving on from some unnecessary drama we had at the time that we did not need to take up space for any longer. So the word “moving” was our overarching theme for the year. By December 31, 2018, we had not quite tied all of those up with a nice pretty bow but we were close, especially on the moving or relocating front. We went to Las Vegas for New Year to visit my brother and his family and I made a connection with someone that had previously worked at the same hospital as me in Saint Louis and I was able to get a job interview in the first few weeks of January 2019. We moved about 6 weeks later.
That’s just one example of how goals don’t always get neatly resolved or achieved within a calendar year. Sometimes they’re ongoing and sometimes they’re never completely achieved. But they’re something to shoot for. They’re something to work toward and grow from.
If you decide that the word of the year may be something that resonates with you, you can consider a couple methods for choosing your word or theme. You can start with thinking first about your specific word. What is a theme you want to see in your year? If you need some ideas, I will link an article in the show notes. Focusing on one word can be less overwhelming than creating a long list.
Once you decide on what that word is, then you could make a list of goals that relate back to that theme. You could also start backwards. Make a list of resolutions or goals and look for a common theme to choose a word.
If you do choose a word of the year, again write it down somewhere. Keep it somewhere you can see it often. Maybe a Post-It note on a mirror, a little sign on the refrigerator, at the top of each month in your planner.
For me, I’ve decided to do a mix of both a theme for the year and a list of resolutions or goals. As a family, our theme or intention for the new year is “Health and Wealth in 2022.” At surface level, some quick resolutions that come to mind with that theme are to lose weight and get rich. I would not be disappointed with either of those outcomes. Health can be associated with improving my physical health, as well as mental and emotional health. There are a whole lot of goals that can come from that. Not only continuing the physical exercise habits that I have improved on over the last year but also making better choices about the types of nutrition I consume and cooking at home more. It’s also in focusing on my emotional health by developing deeper relationships with family and friends. It’s also about improving my mental health by taking time to fill my cup before I am responsible for helping others. Wealth, not only refers to improving on our financial goals, but also being a wealth of knowledge. I want to take time to read more and educate myself as much as possible.
In addition to choosing a theme and some corresponding resolutions and goals, I’m also turning 35 this coming year. Every year is important, but years that end in -5 can be banner years in a way. Getting to a halfway point in another decade is reason to celebrate. When I turned 30, I made a list of 30 things I wanted to do before I turned 30. I didn’t check everything off the list but it was fun to set goals and look back on them for my birthday. My birthday is in September so I have a solid 9 months from now to do some fun things. Maybe this is something you’d like to try before your next birthday, banner year or not.
Whatever method you choose, find ways to keep it going past the first week of January.
Make it actionable with specific steps. Set a goal with specific steps in mind vs just a resolution with something that you want to do or not do.
Start small. If you want to cook at home more, for example, start with cooking one more meal a week than you routinely do. Expecting to achieve a goal when going from 0-100 isn’t always a recipe for success. Incremental change can create a habit and longer term accomplishments.
Have an endgame or tie it to a timeline. If you want to start running more, why not look for a 5K or 10K a few months out that you can work toward. If you want to travel more, this may be obvious, but actually plan a vacation. Have something to look forward to.
Don’t lose momentum. Celebrate success and milestones. One of the biggest motivating factors that keeps me hooked on my Peloton bike, is the use of achievements and milestones. Set your own. Regularly review the steps toward achievement you’ve made. Treat yourself to an experience you’ve never done before.
Get some accountability. Find a friend or group of people with a common goal to keep yourself accountable. Start an instagram account and document your progress. If that keeps you moving, try it. But if it brings you significant stress and anxiety to tell someone else your goal, skip it. Do what works for you.
Fit it into your routine (cleaner house? Tidy up for 10 minutes at the end of each day. More time with friends? Schedule a standing date for the first Tuesday of the month)
Try a different way. Want to read more? Try audio books. Or set aside a dedicated time during the day when you’re going to read.
Revisit your resolutions periodically. Assess how it’s going. Set a reminder on your phone a couple months out. Or write it down on your calendar or in your planner.
Again, I’ll repeat those tips for successfully sticking to goals we set:
- Make it actionable
- Start small
- Have an endgame or timeline
- Don’t lose momentum
- Get some accountability
- Fit it into your routine
- Try a different way
- Revisit resolutions periodically
Our goals don’t have to end on December 31st. They can be lifelong and continuous goals. If you are someone that consistently achieves your New Year’s resolutions, that’s amazing. Know that you are part of a small group that actually makes it happen. If you’re part of the majority of adults and achieving New Year’s resolutions is something that’s important to you, why not try something different? Try a new way to set them. Try a new way of completing them. Try a new way of reassessing the progress you’re making.
Whether you decide to set them at the beginning of the calendar year or any old Thursday during the summer, having goals is important. Goals help us grow. Goals give us a target to aim for. Goals help us to avoid complacency. Goals help us create focus and avoid unnecessary distraction.
If you’re listening to this episode during the holiday season or at the start of the year, I invite you to take the time to reflect on all you’ve done this past year and look ahead to what opportunities you want to seek in the year ahead.
If you need some ideas of where to start, I will have a couple of articles linked in the show notes. Regardless of how successful your year turns out to be, I hope that this next year is your best year yet. That you choose to find the good and push yourself to new heights.
I am truly thankful for you and all of your support this past year with starting this podcast. I have been able to connect with some amazing people and I have learned so much. I hope that you have something has resonated with you to be a little more creative, to try something new, to take risks, and to live the life that you want to live.
That’s it for this episode.
As always, I hope you can use these ideas as tipping off points to channel the ambition, curiosity, and desire to create the life you want to live. Thanks so much for listening. Our time is so important and I am so appreciative that you spent some of it with me.