Hey there guys! Cal here. Hope everyone had an incredible Christmas and is ready to celebrate the New Year.
For many, the New Year comes with the pressure to create a resolution. Create a big change for yourself, eliminate an undesired behavior, accomplish a personal goal, or otherwise improve your life. For some strange reason we think that on this particular morning, when the calendar has a different number at the end of it, we will suddenly have the willpower and determination to accomplish or change something about ourselves.
The truth is the vast majority of people will fail at this.
As of research completed in 2019, 92% of all resolution makers will fail. That means that out of 10 people, only 0.8 people walked out the year successful. (Fun fact: Millenials are actually more successful than other generations at keeping their resolutions, at a whopping 12%. But this is juxtaposed with their cockiness with being the most confident that they could keep them.)
Fun Fact: The tradition of new year's resolutions can go as far back as the Romans. They used to "make promises" to the god Janus, who coincidentally the month of January is named after!
These statistics are a bit depressing and makes everything seem pointless, that we’re doomed to stay the same. That’s an easy conclusion to draw. However, the fault does not lie in the person. The fault lies in the obsolete idea of the resolution. Just like pretty much everything in life, it isn’t black and white.
So why am I talkin' all this smack about the resolutions anyways? Alright I’ll make my point. Rather than make one big resolution to get more fit or stop drinking pop, I'm asking you to make some smaller goals that are easier to chew, and hit more of them throughout the year.
So what types of goals should you be setting?
Another thing we can’t overlook before going any further is the type of goals that should be set. Some people know about the acronym SMART, but let's add two more parameters to it:
S - Specific: The more specific you can make a goal, the more likely you are to achieve it because you’re more easily able to visualize it. This will help you make it more concrete, and more easy to pursue.
example: instead of "I will eat better" try "I will eat 3 servings of vegetables and 1 serving of fruit every day"
M - Measurable: Something that you can measure and see progress in. This is easy if it’s something like weight loss, but if it’s more habit-based, create a goal of a number of times per week, or even once per day! (see: Jerry Seinfeld's chain method)
example: I will sit and focus on my breath for 5 minutes, undisturbed.
A - Actionable: The goal needs to involve a verb. It needs to be about the actions you can take to manifest your new reality.
example: Rather than saying “I want to run more,” say “I want to run 10 miles a week,” which is a habit-based goal. Or “I want to run a half-marathon,” which is an achievement-based goal!
R - Risky: This one is kind of new in the field of Goal Achievement Research (yes that’s a real thing.) Research has shown that we need goals that grab our attention - it can’t be too low, or it becomes pretty easy to ignore. Our mind is sub-consciously very good at risk-benefit analysis, and if the goal doesn’t pull you forward because it’s too small of a gain, your brain won’t really care.
example: rather than "I will join a gym" try "I will join a gym that holds me accountable to show up 3x/week"
T - Time Keyed: Not just time-bound anymore. We need it to be a bit more specific - when will you work towards it? What time of day? What days of the week? When will you make time for it?
example: I will sit and focus on my breath for 5 minutes, undisturbed on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday before I eat my lunch.
E - Exciting: It’s gotta be something that excites YOU. You’re much more likely to achieve this goal if it’s something that you, personally, the one that’s reading this right now, wants to do and lights your fire.
example: Do you want to run that half-marathon, or do you feel like it’s something you should do? Or because it’s cool?
R - Relevant: Make sure it’s something that makes sense for you right now. If you’re a new parent, you probably don’t have quite as much time, so maybe this isn’t the year to take up woodworking. Maybe those efforts would be better spent in dialing in your nutrition since that may take slightly less time than perfecting the Mortise & Tenon joint.
Phew, alright now that we’ve got the nuts and bolts laid out, time to put them all together. I appreciate you getting this far, and if you’re reading this with the sincere interest in accomplishing your goals I can tell you that you’re driven enough to achieve them. Now let’s dive into a step by step guide on how to level up in 2022:
2022 Resolution Plan:
Step 1: Plan a time to actually sit down to plan out your goals. Go on a date with yourself - take yourself out for coffee, or go sit in the woods if you’re a maniac who can stand the cold.
Step 2: In that time, reflect back on the past year and find things you’re grateful for. Look at what you did accomplish, what you are proud of, what things are positive compared to the years before.
Step 3: Come up with 3 things you want to accomplish within the first quarter (January-March) using the SMARTER outline we talked about earlier. Research has shown that using a smaller time yields more success, as it prevents procrastinators (aka everyone) from pushing things until late in the year!
Step 4: Write these 3 things down ON PAPER. Yep. Old school. Put it on a sticky note, and put it someplace you can see it. Stick it on your phone at night so you see them first thing in the morning when you pick up the stupid thing. *Another option (in addition to writing it down) is on your phone use the Notes application and put your goals down, then make the Notes widget and set it so that it displays that specific note. Arrange your apps so it sits right next to your Messages app or your Phone app so you see it frequently throughout the day. The biggest thing is we want to review your goal every day for at least the first 30 days.
Step 5: Take action. Don’t worry so much about breaking down the goal into 30 different steps - focus on the NEXT step. Every day when you look at your goal list, take 30 seconds. Literally 30 seconds. Figure out what you can do today to help you move toward that goal. Then act on it. *Take into account what you have going on that day and how you can work it into your schedule. Each day won’t look the same. You won’t be making the same progress every day. Just make progress.
Step 6: Focus on the gains, not the gap. Look at how far you’ve come, not how far you have to go. This has to do with mindset, but it’s extremely important. If it’s February and you want to lose 10 pounds by March, focus on how you’ve lost 6 pounds, not how you have 4 left to go
Step 7: Give yourself some grace. Allow yourself to make mistakes, and learn from them. The truth is: you will never be a finished product. We are, and always will be, a work in progress.
Once the end of the quarters, start it all over again. Research has shown that setting as low as 7, and as many as 12 goals has allowed for the most success. Find them in different areas of your life, and remember not to stretch yourself too thin.
If you have any questions on goal setting, or want help in reaching your goals, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or book your free intro with a coach here.
Happy New Year. Here’s to hoping it’s much more fun, and much less exciting, than the past two years have been.