Each year around half of Americans set a New Year’s resolution. In contrast, less than 10% stick to it or remember the goal past February. However, I think most people at the end of 2020 are looking back at how we thought the year would go. And as 2020 ends (finally), we are looking to 2021, hoping it will be better. I think collectively people woke up this year and realized there is so much we don’t control. In contrast to that, resolutions and goals are a way to focus on what we do control. So as we look to 2021 and make New Year’s resolutions, as you start to dream and hope for the next year, let’s make resolutions and goals that are achievable. Goals that won’t become a to-do list of the ways you think you failed this year or ways the year got away from you, again.
Start at the beginning: Gratitude.
I know, it’s become a buzzword. But, contrary to what you’ve done in the past, starting your New Year’s resolutions off by beating yourself up with evidence of all the ways you failed isn’t going to help. Looking around at how awful 2020 was isn’t going to help this next year getting better. Look back at this year and give yourself (and life) ALL the credit. This year has been tough and whether you intentionally did it or not, you have grown. You survived. Maybe it was messy and imperfect, but you did it. Make a giant list of all the big and little moments that made your heart swell. Start by celebrating the ways you won, the ways you succeeded, the things you did well. Soak it up. When you start looking for all the ways you achieved things, you give yourself power to do more.
How do you want to feel? Don’t let it become a to do list.
Before you make another long list of goals for your New Year’s resolution, look back at your year even more. What worked really well and what was not working? Get curious (without judgment) about things that were hard and not great. This is where you find WHY this goal will matter for you this year. Don’t just think about what you want to do, but who you will be. So many of us make resolutions like lose weight, workout more, save money, etcetera. Those become a to-do list and most of us have enough we have to do. Truly take the time to ask yourself, what would move the needle? What one habit, standard or life-changing, would impact my life most no matter what this new year brings?
Goals that become habits start with mindset shifts and identity.
When people set out to make and keep goals, they often forget the most important part: their mindset. Your thoughts, beliefs, and especially the subconscious ones are what is driving everything. Someone can be the most dedicated and resolved person and still fail from this massive oversight. Sometimes you can carry through on resolve, but this is the biggest reason most people fail at their New Year’s resolution. They made a to-do list, not a life change.
You act out of who you believe yourself to be. Look at some of the people we both admire (and sometimes tease) for being so dedicated to a lifestyle or habit. They don’t have a habit, they have an identity. Think of runners, athletes, or vegans. What about smokers? They don’t just have a habit, they have an identity and a whole lifestyle which informs their brain both consciously and subconsciously about how to act.
Most people don’t even consider identity change when they set out to improve. They just think, “I want to be skinny (outcome) and if I stick to this diet, then I’ll be skinny (process).” They set goals and determine the actions they should take to achieve those goals without considering the beliefs that drive their actions. They never shift the way they look at themselves, and they don’t realize that their old identity can sabotage their new plans for change.
Behind every system of actions are a system of beliefs.James Clear- Atomic Habits
Here is the good news: Yearly resolutions are incredible, but you don’t need a new year to change.
One of the habits of highly successful people is having time set aside all through the year to check into their goals and habits. Whether you are a stay home mom or a CEO, or somewhere in between, you have things you want. Set up time to check in on what’s working and what isn’t in your life. I like to check in each year, every quarter, monthly, and yes weekly. When you do this, you set yourself up to succeed in growing and making the change you want to see. You make room to readjust and reassess. The path to growth is never straightforward. It’s windy and twisty.
Want your goals to stick this year?
- Always start with gratitude. What in life is good? Create your resolutions around what brings you joy or adds energy to who you are. Focus on BEING over DOING.
- Brain dump a whole list of ideas. Now ask yourself which ONE goal would impact the rest of those goals or your life in a big way? Focus on one goal at a time
- Look at the beliefs and identity you have around this area. Start with awareness and move into creating affirmations around what you want to see.
- Who/what can help you with this? Is there a book or a podcast in this area? Is there a friend or coach who could give you ideas on how to make this change easier and more fun? More on support here.
- Read Atomic Habits or do some research on how to make and keep habits. Most of us set ourselves up to fail by not knowing how our brains work and how to change patterns. There is actual science on how to do this and knowing it will make all the difference. For more information click here.
- Plan to fail. Make it part of your plan to get off track, to forget, to get thrown off. Decide to make it imperfect and messy and to just keep going day after day. Consistent action over perfection.
- Set up support or accountability! Take this quiz (https://quiz.gretchenrubin.com) and figure out your motivational tendencies and set yourself up to succeed.
- Make it easy. Set up systems that work for your unique motivation and personality.
- Hire or find a coach/mentor/friend who is successful in the area you are working on and ask for feedback, support, and accountability. Want to join my free workshop on New Year’s resolutions for moms/women? Click here.