There you are. It is the first week of January, and you're full of motivation for the new year. 2019 is going to be the year you eat healthier, exercise more, and save more money. You've just come off a couple weeks of enjoying holiday food (was it 15 or 20 cookies throughout the week?) and now is the time to really buckle down on your health goals and accomplish your New Year's resolution.
News flash. Your New Year's resolution will fail. That is, if you're like the 92% of people who fail their New Year's resolution every year.
What do the other 8%, the ones who achieve what their goals, do to buck the trend? They follow a process - and if you're serious about changing any aspect of your life, you can consider doing the same.
If you type that question into Google (or another search engine of choice) you will get countless articles proclaiming to give you the recipe for achieving New Year's resolution success. There are probably even more strategies for this than there are fad diets, and that is truly saying something.
Below you will see our approach. It is not revelatory, but it does work. Follow this process and see if it works for you. Schedule regular check ins to evaluate your progress. This is the way to judge if you're moving closer to your goal, and it has been installed into our process as a way to hold us accountable for what we suggest.
The first place people make a mistake in setting New Year's resolutions is making a massive list, sometimes 10-20 items, and then running after all of them at the same time. Stop. Don't make this mistake. You are going to be wiser and more discerning than the masses.
Make two lists. On the first, list ALL the things you'd like to accomplish this year. Set a timer for 15-20 minutes, and list everything you can think of that you'd like to do in 2019. Include things such as major purchases, trips you want to take, and personal development goals you have.
After your timer goes off, start eliminating your list until you're down to three. This is your top three list. If you get done with them before the end of the year, great. Revisit your original list and do the next one. Continue this until your goals change or you have finished the entire list.
Tracking your goals accomplishes two tasks. One, it helps you know if and when you complete it (duh) and two, it keeps you motivated during those times you're truly ready to give up on your New Year's resolution. You can look back and see how far you've come, and know that it is worth going the rest of the way.
Whether you prefer a digital spreadsheet such as Excel or Google Sheets, or a physical paper to keep track on doesn't matter. Just pick one and keep it in an accessible place. Title each individual sheet with your goal.
If you're trying to save a certain amount of money for the year in order to make a major purchase, put down how much you need to save each month in order to make this happen. If you're trying to meet a performance goal such as a certain weight on a back squat, your action list could talk about making it to the gym a certain number of times per month.
Action lists all look like smaller goals which lead toward the big goal. They are less sexy. They don't get you as excited, but they are still high level enough that they are something to shoot for and can be motivational in that sense. Each goal sheet should have an action list directly below the title.
Going back to our example above for saving money, your daily actions could say things such as packing your lunch each day instead of going out to eat, or making coffee instead of going to Starbucks. For the back squat goal it could be as simple as workout each day. Of course, you're going to have rest days, but you get the point.
This step is critical to achieving your New Year's resolution. The fact is, this list looks like a lot of work. It is the nitty gritty habits you must develop if you are going to accomplish your goals. It is at this point you start to see exactly what you are going to have to do in order to achieve the goals you've set for yourself.
Whatever you do, don't cut corners here. Keep your list as streamlined and simple to follow as possible. It is best to keep this list between five and ten daily activities. Any more than that and you are going to forget what it is you're supposed to be doing, you'll get overwhelmed, and you'll completely forget your goals.
Ok, so if you're like the MAYBE 10% of people who actually break their goals down into process steps, you're already doing great. What gets you all the way there is setting up a measurement system to make sure you stay on the path to your New Year's resolution.
This system can be unique to each individual. One strategy is to put your action steps into your phone as repeating daily reminders. These will pop up, you'll be reminded to act, and this way you won't forget to do your action step.
For the financial goals, creating envelopes or digital folders to track your purchases can be a great way to stay on budget.
Whatever your goal is, figure out how you're going to keep track of your action steps. The style doesn't matter - it is all about making sure you are following through with what you said you would do.
If you follow your process, meet your action items, and still don't meet your goal it is a good sign you need to re-evaluate your goals and if you are capable of meeting them alone. Another good sign for this is if you're unable to make an action list or action items to accomplish your goal.
In either of these situations, consider getting a coach. This person can help guide you along the correct path to make your goals a reality. If it is fitness or nutrition, we'd love to help. But we'll stay away from the finances and leave that to the professionals in the field.
Go make 2019 yours.