I know. I bleat on at you all year about goals, setting them, achieving them, celebrating them. I wave my pom poms madly when you need a cheerleader and kick butt when necessary.
And loads of companies and media use the New Year Resolutions thing as a huge marketing tool to say c’mon, what are you going to do in 2016?
So I might be shooting myself in the foot here.
But… I don’t really believe in New Year Resolutions.
We can do better than that.
We can do better than signing up to a gym and going three times.
We can do better than going 3 days cigarette free then just having the one.
And we can do so much better than randomly deciding that January the 1st is going to be the start of a whole new you.
We don’t change habits overnight. It’s a really hard way of doing things, not much fun and makes us feel rubbish when we give up giving up whatever we were giving up, be that sugar, drink, cigarettes, lazy days on the sofa watching Netflix.
And January 1st is the worst day of the year to do anything much, other than country walks and snaffling up energy giving leftovers. Because let’s face it, on January 1st we are either knackered or disappointed. Or both. Unless you go to bed early with a good book because you know that New Year’s Eve will either knacker or disappoint you.
It suddenly being January isn’t a compelling enough reason to hold you accountable to any resolutions you may make. It sounds powerful, in a sort of ooh, a brand new year kind of way. But come next Monday morning and you’ll have realised that nothing has actually changed. Just the calendar. And that in itself isn’t enough to spur you on.
And that is fine.
Because as I have said before, you can’t achieve goals without being in the right mindset.
The fact we flick from 2015 to 2016 is nothing to do with mindset. It’s just a change of calender. And you have to get used to writing 2016, which will take ages, and you’ll be crossing out the 5s all over the shop.
So that is why I am not doing New Year Resolutions, but here is what I have done and am doing instead:
- Taking stock. I have spent several hours over the last week, between all the Christmas excitement and jollity reflecting on the year that is coming to an end. What have I learned? What have I achieved? What didn’t go to plan? Why not? What could I have done differently? How would I do things differently in the future? What would I keep the same? A kind of year end appraisal of my self, my career, my relationships, my finances, my health. And I have taken time to celebrate it all (in fact, for me December 31 has always been about celebrating what has passed, rather than what is to come).
- I have written a list of achievements for the year. Clients hate it when I tell them to list their achievements. I start with 3, build up to 10, push them further. More more more (I am like a dog with a bone on achievements). I am not going to tell you how long my list got (in case you think I am boasting) but it was a long list. And that isn’t because I am anyone special, or perfect. It is due to being kind to myself, and focussing on the positive lessons learned. Trust me, that list of awesomeness is the tonic for when things go wrong. And only you will see it.
- Where do I want to be this time next year? Again, this is a list exercise, but you could do it by drawing, or mind mapping, or whatever you want to do. I allow myself to dream a little. I go through different parts of my life – relationships, family, health, business, knowledge, finances… and I visualise what each part of the whole looks like, and how it feels to be this imagined way.
- I brainstorm ways of getting whatever it is that I am hoping to be this time next year. I go mad on the brainstorming. I may have filled a whole notebook.
- Then I plan. I am still in the planning stage, and will be well into the first half of January before that is over. I break down the brainstorming into doable, potentials, definites. Then I break them down further into baby steps.
- During my planning I am noting bits and pieces I can do now, and have already started.
- Throughout the year I will tweak, do, take action, complete, review every couple of weeks or every month. Because goals aren’t something you just do in January. They are on-going, adaptable, and even, if they are no longer useful or relevant, cancellable. But the key word is do. I don’t have to wait until Friday morning to get started, it is already happening.
- Towards the end of the year I will go into reflection mode. And we are back at the beginning. But, and this is the key thing. You don’t have to start all this over the New Year period. You can start whenever you like. Your birthday. After a holiday. Or at any random point during the year when you realise you want to make change. You don’t have to wait until January. In fact often at my monthly or quarterly reviews I will tear up a whole set of objectives and make new ones. I can, because they are mine.
I am not saying that this is how you should do it. Or even if you do do it you don’t have to do it the way I do. You could focus on one aspect of your life, for example, if the others are chugging along nicely already. But I am giving you permission to not make resolutions, and find another way of getting from where you are to where you want to be.