Stop The Cycle Of Broken New Year’s Resolutions: How To Finally Achieve Those Life-Changing Goals This Year
On Monday I said goodbye to the new year’s resolution. I’ve concluded that they really are a waste of time, but what else can you do? As I’ve said before, though the new year is bad for making resolutions, you just can’t ignore the feeling of a fresh start and a clean slate that it brings. We humans seem to love it for some reason, so why not take advantage of that energy in more constructive way? In this post I want to start addressing that and look at alternative ways of how to make the most of the new year buzz. Just don’t call it a new year’s resolution!
Getting the mindset right
The first thing to consider is how you view the new year and your attitude towards it. If you’re still carrying around a NYR mentality, then you need to ditch it permanently. Forget about what goals your friends are setting themselves, forget about the media telling you to set resolutions. You know it’s a flawed concept, that’s why you’re reading this.
You need to consider the following before you do anything else:
- Be honest
Don’t let peer pressure cloud your decisions. Don’t let the latest scare stories in newspapers drive you into things that deep down you don’t want to do. There is a big difference between feeling like doing something, and having the motivation and desire to follow that up for months and even years. There are many things I’d like to do, but enough to commit to it far into the future? No. Do you really want to quit smoking and no longer have the calming buzz of a cigarette between your fingers? Be honest with yourself.
- Be realistic
Once you’ve started being honest with yourself, you also need to be realistic about what you want to achieve. Traditional self-help gibberish tells you to reach for the stars! Anything is possible! Hmm, no. Being realistic isn’t about dumbing down your goals, it’s about taking out the puppy dogs and fairies and turning a fantasy into something practical that you may actually be able to make happen. If you’re riddled by debt, is it realistic to believe you can get into the black within a year? Well, you tell me…
Finding the right way forward
Now that you have the right mindset for creating goals that you genuinely believe in, and that you can actually achieve, you need to decide how you’re going to do it. It’s time to be strategic and smart and do some serious planning. Below are several tried-and-tested techniques to help you really analyze your life and inspire some lean and mean goals to pursue through the year.
- Horizons of focus
You don’t have to be a GTD fan to take advantage of this common-sense breakdown of your life. I personally, never really got into it, but it clearly has value to many people. Essentially, there are six levels of focus, ranging from the big vision of your life at the top, to your daily activity at the bottom. How does everything align up? Check out my my thoughts or this article on how to achieve it.
- My own approach
If that’s a little too much for you, last year I experimented with an alternative method, which is actually something I still use. Briefly, it is based on three levels: your vision, your goals and your tasks. You start in the middle, considering what current goals you have or want to do, then going down a level to consider what actions you need to take to achieve them, and up a level to see how those goals fit into your big vision.
- SWOT analysis
This may bring back a few memories for those who did business studies at school. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Yes, it is possible to apply it to your life, your finances, work, play, social life, hobbies and interests etc. Check out this post for a really good understanding of how it works.
- SMART goals
Another oldie but goodie. Again, it’s not something I’ve ever actively used but you can’t deny the value in it. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic (that word again!) and timeframed. If your goals don’t follow all of those criteria, you can forget about it. More details on this technique can be found here.
This is only the tip of the iceberg, and there are many other techniques out there, but hopefully this will give you a taster. It might seem overkill, and a little unnecessary to put your personal life under such scrutiny, but perhaps the fact we give our work life too much attention and our personal life so little is why many people are unhappy.
Do you have any favorite practices for coming up with and setting those big life-changing goals? Why not share them in the comments or on Twitter?