The first two weeks of 2017 are over. How are your New Year’s Resolutions doing?
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail
— Winston Churchill
If you are like most people, your excitement and enthusiasm over your new goals is still high, but you are already starting to face challenges and come up with excuses to avoid doing the things you’ve committed to.
On average, only 8% of people will achieve their resolutions. I am committed to making this community part of that 8%.
The key to success is to turn Resolutions into a Plan.
A Plan is better than a Resolution, because it incorporates motivation and a strategy for execution. This helps focus on what really matters and get you past obstacles.
So what makes a good plan?
- A good plan has a specific, meaningful goal
- A good plan has a strategy for execution
- A good plan has systems in place to overcome inevitable challenges
This article will walk you through how to create a great good New Year’s Plan and together we can make sure we are part of that 8%.
Make Time to Save Time
The first step is to set aside some time to plan. Most people spend no more than a few minutes each year thinking about a resolution. There are 365 days in a year, and most people spend less than 5 minutes trying to plan them all out! Set aside half a day (less than .0015% of your year) to go through the below exercises and get your New Year’s Plan on solid ground.
If a half day is too much to ask all at once, set aside two hours to get started and another 2 hours the following week to finish up. I know how hard it can be to set aside time for this kind of planning, but this kind of planning saves you time in the long run!
An analogy might help put this into perspective. Imagine you are planning to go to dinner with some friends in a new town, but instead of looking up restaurant reviews, deciding where to go, filling up your car with gas and finding directions, you just get in your car and drive.
This is the situation most people are in with their New Years Resolutions. Sure, its possible you will get somewhere you want to be, but it isn’t likely. Take the time to map out your course and you are much more likely to reach your destination.
Just as you will take 5 minutes to plan your evening, take the couple hours to plan your year.
Step 1: Set Goals
The first step is to define what your goals are. This is not as easy as it sounds. I recommend you start with one goal in 3 of the major life categories:
Choosing goals in different categories helps to ensure that your life has some balance built in. You can have more than 3 goals, but it helps to pick 3 primary ones to keep your focus. The more you dilute your focus with too many goals, the less likely you are to accomplish any one of them.
Here are some tips for defining your goals:
Goals should be Specific in Time and Action
Make sure it will be obvious when you achieve your goal. “Lose 15 lbs of fat by June” is better than “Lose Weight”.
Each goal should have a concrete finish line and a target date for accomplishment. By making goals specific, you can measure your progress and know when you are on track and when you need to improve.
It also helps to stagger your deadlines. Even though these are New Years resolutions, they don’t all have to have a December deadline. Shorter deadlines at regular intervals makes your goals easier to manage.
Goals Should be Actionable and Realistic
A good goal needs to be something you can take action on. “Achieve world peace,” and “Make a billion dollars,” are too fuzzy and unrealistic to be actionable.
What counts as realistic will be specific to each person, but when in doubt you should always think smaller to make your goals within reach. It is far better to overshoot smaller goals than it is to “fail” at a bigger goal.
If you think a goal is too easy for you, rather than grow it, try shrinking the timeline- e.g. Start a side business that makes $100 by March. If you hit the goal, you can always make a new goal that is more aggressive for the next quarter.
Connecting small, concrete steps to an inspiring long-term vision is the key to powerful, actionable motivation.
Write down your 3 specific, realistic and actionable goals now. Here are mine:
- Drop to 15% bodyfat by April
- Launch a Podcast by March
- Save $1000 per month beginning in January
Step 2: Make Your Goals Meaningful
Accomplishing goals is challenging! If the goal doesn’t connect to something important for you, you will give up when the going gets tough.
If you want to learn a new language, why do you care? Just because you think you should? Or is it because you want to be able to travel to new places and experience new cultures?
Is losing weight about looking good at the beach or is it about feeling healthy and energetic throughout your day? Be honest with yourself! There are no wrong answers, but if you don’t feel the excitement in your belly when you think about your motivation, you need to keep digging.
If your goals are too small to motivate you, then think about them as the first step on a longer road. For example, Starting a $100 a month business by March is a great goal, but it may not create excitement for you. But a $100 a month business is the first step to a $1000 a month business, which could then become a $10,000 a month business, and so on. Think about how the final goal will change your life and remember that each small step is a part of reaching that goal.
Spend a few minutes visualizing what your life will be like with the goal accomplished. Pretend that you have already accomplished the goal and really feel in your body what it is like. What are the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings of a world where your goal is accomplished?
After a few minutes of visualizing, write down a 3-4 sentences on what you experienced and what it means to you. Use the present tense to make things more real. You will reference these thoughts throughout the year to stay motivated.
OK, take some time now to write out your motivations next to your goals. Sometimes going through this process will cause you to change your goals. That is ok! Better to find out now that some of your “goals” really weren’t what you wanted after all.
Once we have our goals and motivation, we will craft the specific action plan to get them accomplished. Here are my goals with motivations to serve as an example.
2017 Goal Samples with Motivation
Health Goal- Get to 15% body fat by April 1st
Motivation: When I have low body fat, I feel better, have more energy and think more clearly. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I finish my workout each morning. I can do more each day and engage in fun activities I love like dancing, surfing, and swimming. I see myself in the mirror and feel good. I feel my body and mind as alive and energetic and free from the aches and pains caused by excess fat.
Money Goal- Build a Habit of Saving $1000 each Month beginning in January
Motivation: I take more time off to travel. My savings have allowed me to visit Thailand, Hawaii, and other places I used to only dream of. Travel enriches my life and lets me see more of what the world has to offer. I feel secure that my savings will let me weather unforeseen emergencies or needs in my future.
Career Goal- Launch a Podcast by March
Motivation: I love learning and communicating with people. In addition to my writing, a podcast allows me to better connect with my audience and empowers me to speak with people who inspire me so I can learn and help others learn. I regularly have conversations with amazing people and share insights with my community.
What are your goals and motivations? If you feel up to it, share them in the comments! Next week I will return with Part 2, where we will build a strategy for accomplishing our goals and set up systems to ensure we stay on track…
(pictures above sourced from pixabay.com)
Hi, I’m Justin!
I am an entrepreneur and game designer. I love reading, writing, dancing, meditating, learning, and helping others. Learn more about me here.