Photo credit: Taylor In Time
It seems a bit odd that we’re still in December and I’m writing a post about New Year’s Resolutions (wait until you see my January 1 post). Well that’s because I want to help give you guys a head start.
It’s coming close to that time of the year (again). That time when everyone gets super hyped at the idea of declaring how much their life is going to change for the new year. When New Year’s Resolutions are set, but unfortunately never realized.
It’s the same tortuous cycle we put ourselves through each year. Having the goal, writing the goal down, starting towards the goal for the first week, maybe two, but never sticking with it and seeing it through.
It always fascinated me, and still fascinates me to this day, why we always say we want something, then do the complete opposite that is counterproductive to what we say we want. I am genuinely and obsessively curious why we do this. It’s one of those burning questions I hope to answer one day, so I can find a solution that can help us all.
For now, I’ll do the next best thing, which is help you actually start and stick with your goals for 2018. If you’re really as serious as you say you are to see the change you want in 2018, then your 2018 starts NOW.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Work On Your New Year’s Resolutions
My own experience with working on new year’s resolutions has always been a painful one. I think the most recent, and probably the most memorable one for me was 2015. By this time I was 30 years old, and had felt like somehow I should have been much further than I was at the time. I felt like a failure and had let myself and those around me down, but this was the year I was going to do something about it. This wasn’t the first time I had made this claim to turn my life around completely at the beginning of the year. However, this was the first time I felt like a failure, like all my efforts over the past decade was a complete waste of my life.
Now the reason why I said it was the most memorable for me wasn’t because I had made a decision to really do something about it and stick with it, it was because by December 2015, the end of that year, I was in the same position I was the previous year. Nothing had changed, and worst, I was in the same place I was before, about to end one year, to start another, with no real progress made. It was in that moment it really hit, that I couldn’t continue doing this. I couldn’t continue telling myself how much things were going to change this year, and end another year with nothing changing. This time it was emotional for me, it was depressing, and I was depressed about it.
The good thing is that realization is what jolted me to really step up in 2016, and that’s when my 5 Years 2 Mastery journey began.
Here’s what I’ve realized when it comes to start working on a goal as a new year’s resolution, and why it never works.
1. You’ve developed the habit of starting but never sticking with it
This is something that you’ve never thought about, but it probably affects why it’s a bad idea to start January 1 the most. The challenge is the more you take a particular action consistently, over time, the more it becomes a habit, and hence a part of who you are (a.k.a. your Identity).
Therefore, if every year you set your New Year’s Resolution, start working on it, and stop before January even ends, what you have unknowingly done is program your mind, and created the Identity that you never stick with it. Through doing the same action of set, start, and stop each year, you have developed that habit. Because of this, it has become increasingly difficult to act counter to this behaviour which has been established in your subconscious.
The goal isn’t the problem. The problem is your mind has associated New Year’s Resolutions to this disempowering habit of never sticking with it. The time of the year is the trigger that leads to the behaviour of non-commitment to your goal.
2. You’re making a decision based on impulse
Most New Year’s Resolutions aren’t birthed by the deep desire to change, but more based on the hype and excitement of setting the goal at the beginning of the year. 99% of the time it’s impulsive, it’s just the thing one does at that time of the year.
New year = New goal.
I’m sure we’ve all experienced at one point or another in our lives when we made a decision based on impulse we later regretted, and wish we could just go back in time and erase it from existence. It’s never a good idea to do anything based on impulse. A goal based on impulse means you will too easily quit on it as the novelty of it fades. This impulsive behaviour is the reason why it’s a bad idea to start working on a goal January 1.
Decisions which are impulsive mean they haven’t been given much thought, you haven’t taken the time to really think it through. Therefore, you don’t act with intention and purpose. Once the novelty has worn off and the goal loses its appeal, then we’re quick to move on to the next thing. In other words, there is no commitment to consistency and longevity.
3. You don’t have an actual plan for your New Year’s Resolution
Now this may not apply to you, maybe you do have a plan for sticking with your New Year’s Resolution. However, I’m pretty willing to bet 99% of you don’t (before I didn’t either). If you’re actions are based on impulse and disempowering habits then you probably never had a plan.
The problem with starting off the new year working on a goal is that you’re just coming off the holidays, and thinking about doing any sort of work is the last thing on your mind. This means that you’re going to have a very casual approach towards your goals based on the mindset you’re in at the moment. At this point you’re just winging it hoping for the best, thinking everything will work itself out, but without a plan it won’t.
Real change never happens at the beginning of the year, it happens when you make the decision to change, and that decision is evident through actions, not words.
Why Work on Your New Year’s Resolutions Before the New Year
I’ve noticed something very peculiar about every goal I have. Every time I had a goal, worked on it, and made progress in my life, it never happened at the beginning of any new year.
In 2013 when I made the breakthrough in my gourmet beverage business, that decision to really dig in and make it work happened mid-way through September (September 21 to be exact).
In 2016 when I made the decision to start on my 5 Years 2 Mastery journey, and the decision to start the blog a month later, both happened in June and July respectively.
When I made the conscious decision to intentionally (note the word intentionally) start my career in Marketing, started paying for courses online, and reading a ton of marketing content, it happened September 2016.
On the other end every goal I set as a New Year’s Resolution never lasted for more than a month.
Now that I’ve stated why you shouldn’t start January 1, let me go through the reason behind each point.
1. It will break the habit cycle created
As mentioned your mind has established the habit that any goal set as a New Years Resolution shouldn’t be committed to. Therefore, to counter this you need to break the habit cycle. A bad habit can only be changed by disrupting the typically routine or pattern that is familiar to the mind.
The simple act of setting and starting the process of working on a goal outside of the New Year’s Resolution period increases the chances you’ll stick with it longer, as this new approach isn’t familiar to the mind, and therefore it will try to establish a new habit to cement this new behaviour.
2. You’ll be intentional about your goals
Many people aren’t intentional about their goals, or which ones they should pursue. I’ve come to realize from my own experience that not every goal should be pursued at the same time or even in the same year. I have goals now that it was my intention to work on them for 2018, but realize based on timing and my schedule I can’t commit to them in 2018, and have greater effectiveness if I put them off until 2019.
Be intentional about which goal you want to work. Think about which one will have the greatest impact on your life if you could accomplish it, and which one you have the greatest desire to see realized. Don’t just have a goal because it’s the new year. Have a goal you know you’ll want to commit to and stick with throughout the entire year.
The best way to do that is to start working on the goal before the new year starts. That way you’re not caught up in the hype and excitement of the new year, but working on a goal you based on desire and not impulse.
3. It puts you in the right mindset to create a plan
When starting at the beginning of the year, you’re not thinking about the long-term plan of how you’re actually going to achieve your goal throughout the year. As mentioned, most if not all your actions are based on impulse and the excitement of the new year, and soon that excitement fades.
When you’re not ruled by emotion, and can take the time to put serious thought into what you want to accomplish and why, and take into consideration the possible challenges that you will inevitably meet you along the way, it gives you the right perspective. It puts you in the right frame of mind to put together a well thought out and comprehensive plan to achieve the goal you have.
New Year’s Resolution goal setting process
Let me give you a very effective goal setting process I’ve used every time I have a new goal, or every time I’m working with someone new to achieve theirs. I have found this process really dives deeply into everything you need to consider when setting, and working towards achieving your New Year’s Resolution.
By the way, please note that this process should start now, and not January 1.
The 6 Step Process to Achievement™
- What is the goal you want to achieve come the new year. Only choose one goal, it keeps you focused on achieving one thing and keeps you from getting overwhelmed by doing too much
- Why is this goal important to you. As I mentioned in a previous post, why you want to achieve the goal is more important than the goal itself. This is because it gives you a reason to keep going through the inevitable challenges you’ll face
- What are the consequences if you don’t follow through. Knowing what you stand to lose is a great motivator to keep you going even when you feel like you want to quit
- What are all the things that have kept you from achieving this goal in the past. They can be external (situations you can’t control), and internal (things you need to change about yourself to see change). Focus mostly on the internal
- What one thing that has held you back can you focus on working on for the next 12 months. Don’t try to eliminate all at once, zone in on one that you believe will have the greatest positive impact on your results if you were able to overcome it, and work on that
- Identify what one simple action you can do each day that will lead you to your goal. Remember inch by inch anything’s a cinch
I went through a full length training video on this process where I go into greater detail.
Sticking with your New Year’s Resolution
We went through the goal setting process, but you still need to know how to take action consistently, and follow the plan to get the results you want.
I won’t go into this too much since I already wrote several articles about this. You can check out these other posts I wrote to help with this.
- S.T.A.R.S. Technique: A Step-by-Step Actionable Approach to Help You Stick With Your Goals
- Why Taking Massive Action Is The Worst Idea for Sticking With and Achieving Your Goals
- Feel Like Quitting On Your Goals? Before You Do Try This…
- Have Big Goals? Start With Ridiculously Small and Simple Actions
- How To Sustain Motivation & Stick With Your Goals
Change isn’t based on a date or time of the year, it’s based on when you’ve gotten to that point of emotional frustration with how things are and you say “Enough is enough!” Everyone that has made a major change in their lives did so because they didn’t like how things were, and weren’t willing to settle for how they are.
Use the above pointers I mentioned to create the life that you’ve always wanted, rather than settling for the life you have. Use them to be intentional and purposeful about your New Year’s Resolutions, instead of getting caught up in the hype of saying you have them, but never do much to achieve them
To your success my friend!
Know someone who always quits on their New Year’s Resolutions and can use the help to stick with them once and for all? Be a friend and share this with them
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