It’s the last day of the calendar year, so many people are thinking about New Year’s Resolutions right now.
This can be a great time to commit to, or renew your commitment to, your health and fitness, and to better other aspects of your life as well. However, most research and estimates suggest that only about 10% of the population actually makes and sticks to their New Year’s Resolutions for the entire year. And 10%, by many accounts, is failing. So, there must be something wrong with the way many of us go about creating New Year’s Resolutions.
Most people, including myself in years past, write out a laundry list of bad habits to get rid of and good habits to start doing – lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking, eat better, pay off debt, volunteer for a good cause, spend more time with family, drink more water, cut out alcohol or sweets or fried foods, sleep more, adopt a hobby, etc. While this may seem noble, and is a starting point, for most it’s just ink on paper and probably a few days, to a few weeks at best, of actual follow-through.
I know it’s a busy time of year and I know the New Year is already upon us, but if you want to actually make some significant change in the upcoming year, you really need to carve out some time to sit down and seriously think these New Year’s Resolutions through if you actually want them to amount to something!
To help you succeed this New Year, follow these SEVEN STEPS!
S T E P | O N E – Reflect and Celebrate
Reflect on what went well over the past year. Celebrate those accomplishments! Seriously! So often we are always trying to figure out how to change or do better, and we rarely take the time to celebrate what’s actually gone well.
Once you’re done celebrating, then ask yourself, “Why did those things go well?” Success breeds success! So, if you can figure out what strategies and habits helped you succeed at different things over the past year, you can then identify and implement them in the upcoming year to help you be successful in other areas of your life.
Think of all the things that you were successful at this past year and write those down on a piece of paper right now. Then write down what strategies and habits helped you succeed at those things. I’ll wait …
S T E P | T W O – Start with One, Small, Specific Action
Often times when we create our New Year’s Resolutions we create this long laundry list of goals, or end points to reach. There are two problems with this approach: 1) We set the destination as our goal, which we really have no control over, and 2) We aim to do too much, which often ends up being overwhelming, and thus leads to us giving up.
So instead, make one, small, specific action your goal.
First, focus on ACTIONS, rather than the destination. For example, instead of “weigh 15 pounds less by the end of 2018,” think “eat 3-5 veggies every day” or “move at a moderate intensity for at least 10-minutes each day.” I’m not saying don’t have a vision of where you want to end up, because you definitely should, but you can’t specifically control that destination, so instead, focus on the things you do have control over, which are the actions you take each and every day to steer you towards that destination.
Secondly, instead of a laundry list, start with one, small, specific action. What’s one thing you can do a little bit better today to propel you towards success over the course of the next year? Just ONE thing! One SMALL thing. One SPECIFIC thing.
Why only ONE thing? Because for each thing we add, our likelihood of success starts to exponentially decrease. As Leo Babauta said in his book, The Power of Less, “Limit yourself to fewer goals, and you’ll achieve more.” So, for now, choose just one thing. Once you’ve hit 80+% consistency with this one action for at least two weeks, then you can start considering adding in something else.
Why something SMALL? Because success breeds success and the smaller the action, the more likely you are to succeed. Your reaction should sound something like this, “Ppfff. That’s too easy!” If that’s not your reaction, keep breaking the action down into smaller and smaller actions, until you’re confident that you can successfully take action 80+% of the time. Ideally, your action should initially be so easy that you can complete it not just on your best days, but on your worst days as well. The more success you have, the more challenging your future action goals can become!
Why SPECIFIC? Because any lack of clarity will turn into an excuse to not take action, especially when life gets crazy! And when is life NOT crazy?!
So, what’s your one, small, specific action you’re going to do today, right now, and consistently for the next 2+ weeks? Write it down! I’ll wait …
S T E P | T H R E E – Know Your Why
Understanding WHY your resolution is important to you is imperative to your success. Understanding the meaning and purpose behind your actions will allow you to grind through them and stay consistent when life sucks and you just wanna say, “F*ck It!”
I suggest you go through “The Five Whys” with your one, small, specific action goal. This strategy is adopted from Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why.
Grab your pen and paper and answer these five questions right now:
1) Why is that one, small, specific action your goal?
2) Why is that reason for your goal important to you?
3) And why is that important to you?
4) And why will that make a difference?
5) And why does that matter to you?
Typically, once you’ve asked yourself “Why” five times, you’ll truly know the importance of the one, small, specific action goal you’ve created.
S T E P | F O U R – Plan
Create a detailed plan to keep you focused, but plan to be flexible as well. Life is crazy, messy, and dirty, probably more often than not. So, plan out exactly how you are going execute that one, small, specific action each day. But, also plan for things to go wrong! Expect road bumps, twists, and turns. Embrace life’s imperfections. This is why I recommend, at first, that you make your action so easy that you are confident that you can complete it even on your worst days.
To help you create your execution plan, answer “The Five W’s”:
1) WHAT do you want? WHAT’s the first, small, specific action you need to achieve that? (You should know this already!) Write it down now.
2) WHEN, realistically, do you want to achieve this by? WHEN will you know you’re there? WHEN will you complete your action each day? Write this down now.
3) WHO will this make you? WHO will support you and hold you accountable? (More on accountability in the next step!) Write this down now.
4) WHERE will you complete your action? WHERE does this action fit into the context of your real and crazy life? Write this down now.
5) WHY do you want to achieve this goal? (You should already know this as well.) Re-write this as well!
S T E P | F I V E – Get Accountability
Everybody needs someone to help hold them accountable to their goals and actions, because let’s face it, ALL OF US are really good at B.S.-ing ourselves, especially when life gets busy, but most of us do not like letting others down!
So, go find an accountability buddy! Right now! Call, text, or ask in person, a good friend, your roommate, your partner, a coach, or whomever you trust, to check-in on you consistently. Write down their name. Now! Then write up a short, but detailed contract of what they will be holding you accountable to and how you would like them to check-in. Do this now! I'll wait ... Then sign it. Then have them sign it ASAP. Then take a picture of it and make this picture your lock-screen photo on your smart phone so you are reminded of it every time you look at your phone!
S T E P | S I X – Take Action Now
Life will always be busy, crazy, and messy. There will never be an absolute perfect time to take action. However, the choice is always yours and you can choose to take action every day! So why wait until tomorrow, January 1st? Why not start today?! Right now. The only perfect time is literally right NOW! So, go perform your one, small, specific action RIGHT FREAKING NOW (or at the very least, as soon as you finish reading this article)!
S T E P | S E V E N – Evaluate and Adjust
Once you’ve spent some time working on your first action, evaluate your progress. Ask yourself, “How’s this working for me?” If you’ve been 80+% consistent with your action and your making progress towards your destination, then it may be time to make your action a bit more challenging or time to add another action to your daily routine, whichever is best for you. If your consistency is less than 80% or your current action isn’t helping you progress towards your final destination and you’ve been working at it for at least two weeks, then it may be time to make an adjustment. Maybe you need to make your action even smaller so that your likelihood of success goes up, or maybe you need to be focusing on a completely different action at this time...
What will you be looking for 2+ weeks from now when you are evaluating your progress? Write this down now. I’ll wait … And what are some possible adjustments you may have to make? Write down those possibilities now as well.
You should now feel pretty solid about your ability to be successful with your New Year’s Resolution!
Here’s a quick recap:
1) Reflect and Celebrate
2) Start with One, Small, Specific Action
3) Know Your Why
5) Get Accountability
6) Take Action Now
7) Evaluate and Adjust
I hope you are able to utilize these seven steps to make this New Year your best year yet!!
If at any point you feel like you are veering away from your goals and need some extra accountability or you just feel you need some expert guidance and coaching, feel free to get in touch with us or join one of our many online and onsite coaching programs, such as our 52-week Lifestyle Transformation Program!
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