Ok, let’s get this bit out of the way. Resolutions – do they work? Sorry to disappoint, but not usually.
Chances are you’re probably too busy wrapping up work projects before the end of the year and trying to get your X-mas shopping done to be really giving this much by way of any in-depth thought. Or maybe, like me, you might be casting forward to the things you’d like to change in your life in 2018. It might be a wee germ of an idea or it may be something specific you have in mind that needs to change.
What is it about the end of a year that makes us so focused on making changes to our lives? New year’s resolutions seem to tick a bunch of boxes. But I often wonder if fulfilling them is a bit like finding the perfect work-life balance. The prospect of both is so tantalising but the reality so much harder to pull off. No matter how strong our intentions are. And intentions don’t often get us over the line.
The end of each year is often a time when we reflect on what was - for better or worse. We often spend the lead up to NYE running through our mental catalogue of significant things that happened (or didn’t), ranking years like we rate our favourite seasons of Sex in the City. It was a good year. It was a crap year, a year to remember or a year to forget. Sometimes we write them off altogether. This process becomes part ritual, part celebration, part mourning. Sometimes the year ending brings with it sheer relief.
But, if we’re lucky, another one rolls around. A new year is symbolic because it offers the promise of fresh starts and new horizons to conquer. They are brimming with possibility. We survived another year. Now let’s make plans as to how we’ll survive the next one! So, on Jan 1st we charge forward with ‘resolutions’, some of them completely over the top, many verbalised to friends and others kept in the private vault. But, as I know from experience, anyone can make a New Year’s resolution. Not everyone can keep them.
So, I’ve ditched resolutions in favour of small goals.
How we do make those goals stick?
-For starters, big sweeping goals are often so daunting they’re overwhelming. So, start small.
-Try for one change at a time – as opposed to the ‘I’m gonna lose weight, get fit, be more creative, spend more time with family, stop drinking / smoking / XXX’ing’ model of change.
-Don’t be vague with your wording. Statements such as ‘I’m gonna get fit’ is open ended and not very specific. But by re-wording that goal to ‘From January the XXX, I will go to the gym 3 x days per week before work for a one-hour session’ you’re starting to get more specific.
-Measure your progress (in a healthy way). Is it really the end of the world if you slip up one day? Look at your progress on balance or enlist a friend who can give you objective feedback.
-Get someone on board to help with accountability.
A really important thing is to focus on the WHY as this identifies what your motivation is to set the goal and make the change. Is your goal something you really WANT to change or something you feel you SHOULD change. There's a big difference.
You can also try and apply the GROW model, which is a simple way of getting things clear in your mind. When you have your goal in mind, go through this exercise.
Goal – what is your goal exactly? (be as specific as possible)
Reality – is this goal steeped in reality?
Options – what is the full range of options available to you right now?
Will - finally, how strong is your Will to achieve your goal? It won’t happen on its own so what is your level of commitment to making it happen?
By making your goals realistic, there is a greater chance that you’ll stick with them throughout the year.
If you'd like some help getting clear on changes you'd like to make for 2018, you're in luck!
Download my free ‘Get Clear in the New Year’ workbook where you can reflect on 2017 and set your goals for next year.
Coach Viv XO