December is here and it means that the New Year is not so far away. As we step into this final month of 2018, we may find ourselves in between two doors: one is about to close forever as 2018 comes to its end, another is to open when the clock chimes 12 and the 1st January 2019 officially begins. I love this moment, this special feeling of entering the new year. It reminds me of childhood, when the years seemed long and never-ending, and the only two things capable of convincing me that the time indeed was moving were my birthday and the new year.
But as adult life begins, it becomes a bit more complicated. We don’t need any convincing that the time is running because, in fact, it’s flying – much faster than we would like. And it’s not the numbers on the calendar or on your social media profile that measure the time past. The time past is now can be divided into Time Used and Time Wasted, and different events and our achievements throughout the year decide whether it has been a successful year or not.
Was 2018 a successful year? Can you tell?
To be honest, looking at the time past and simply deciding whether it was a success will not do you much good if you are not able/interested in analyzing your achievements and failures and learning from them. It is the ability to reflect, to learn and to implement your newly-acquired knowledge into action that gives you a chance to succeed in the future. It is the ability to look at your mistakes and learn from them that prevents you from making the same mistakes in the future.
Many people make New Year’s resolutions – they have become a tradition in the Western part of the world during the past decades. It is trendy to make them and start your life anew from the first morning of the year. This is all great! But according to a study conducted by Richard Wiseman in 2007, even though roughly a half of us are confident about achieving our resolutions, only about 12% of us actually achieve our goals, meaning that 88% of us fail.
Why do we fail?
There are a lot of theories on this topic, and I’m sure the reason is different in each case. But here are a few things that I personally believe in (you have your right to disagree):
- The goals are too vague
- Lack of planning and tracking
- Lack of motivation (not self-control or will power)
- Waiting too long for a perfect time
These reasons should be self-explanatory, but it is worth mentioning that there is never a perfect time to start anything. If you keep waiting for something to start at a perfect time you will either:
a) never start at all;
b) get disappointed when you meet challenges you weren’t prepared for (the time was perfect, remember?) and give up.
So to avoid these common pitfalls I have prepared a few steps for you that will help you on your way to success.
Three Things To Do Before 2019
So, as you have already realized, the three things will be about the resolutions or goals for the New Year 2019. The three steps are easy enough but they do require a little bit of your time and focus. And really, if you want to achieve something in the new year, it is a very small price to pay!
So the three things to do are:
- Review your past goals/resolutions
- Set new goals/resolutions
- Start now
Yes, you read the #3 correctly. We will get to that in a short while. Right now, let’s start with #1.
1. Review your past goals
What have you wished to do/achieve in 2018?
Was it to start a new career? To become healthy and fit? To lose weight? Or maybe go traveling or move permanently?
Whatever your resolutions were, try to remember them as they were – wording is very important! (and this is why writing them down and keeping close helps).
Next, divide them into two groups: Goals Achieved and Goals Not Achieved. Take a close look and see if there’s any difference in the wording and specificity of those achieved vs not achieved. For example, it is easier to achieve a goal when it is specific and measurable. If you say you want to eat healthier it won’t bring you as good results as if you set specific rules like “only healthy meals on weekdays”. Likewise, a resolution of exercising more will not be as successful as “exercising 3/4/5 days a week”. It is quite possible that those resolutions that you have achieved were more specific and realistic than those you haven’t.
Also probe for the reasons why you failed. Write them down. When you look at them from a distance, you may see that there could have been ways to avoid it. As Richard Wiseman says in his article (and what we’ve been taught at the nutrition course), you cannot treat one slip-up as a failure. Did you skip a gym class? Go to the next one. Have you eaten something you weren’t allowed? Accept and carry on with your plan. A slip-up is not a failure. A failure is refusing to fight for it.
2. Set new goals
Once you’ve scanned your past resolutions, successes and failures, it is time to set new goals.
Keeping the information from the previous step in mind, create a list of goals or things you want to achieve. Pay close attention to your wording. The goals must be realistic, measurable, achievable and specific (SMART). If it is a new job you are after, look at the ideal work settings: what kind of job, what kind of company, the culture of the company, work schedule, salary, opportunities for growth, etc. The more specific you are, the easier it is to devise a plan and stick to it.
Once your goals are ready, it is time to look at each and every one of them and see what steps you can take to achieve them. Back to ideal work, do you have a qualification for it? If yes, start preparing your CV. If not, what do you need to obtain one? Look for courses, work experience and internship programs. If your goal is to exercise more and you’ve set yourself a task to do it 4 times a week, see which days suit you best. Think of the types of exercise that you enjoy. Do you want to try something new? Look for any classes in your area. Look at different programs and routines, check out local gyms or maybe even YouTube channels that release video workouts. If you are a yoga-lover like me and haven’t tried Yoga with Adrienne yet, I insist you do now!
Continuing in this manner, break your main goals into smaller achievable steps and make sure that you keep your written plan in an easily accessible place, better yet, keep a reminder of them always within your eyeshot. Maybe create a vision board to keep you motivated and reminded.
3. Start now
I know what you are thinking. “But we are talking about the New Year’s resolutions!”
Yes, that’s true. But let’s return briefly to the ‘perfect timing’ pitfall. We view the new year as that very perfect timing. It’s the beginning of the new year so we can finally begin anew, too. Right? Well, life doesn’t care if it’s a beginning or an end. Things happen despite the time. If you sit waiting for too long you risk losing your motivation. If you have been waiting for so long and then find that you don’t feel so excited about something upon finally starting it, you are way more likely to quit it – speaking from experience, my own and those around me.
There is no perfect time for starting anything. Something will always keep coming up. It is your motivation and mindset that determine how well you will deal with those hiccups. But motivation is known to wane overtime if you don’t act on it. So as you start to plan and get excited now, it is your cue for action. You don’t need to wait. You can experience the magic of beginning any time when you enter a new routine.
Wouldn’t it be perfect to feel that exhilarating rush right now? In the middle of December craze? And to know that not only are you set for a great beginning but also for a good ending? That’s your chance to get two birds with one stone (yes, I refuse to say ‘kill’ LOL)
Have a great December everyone! And remember: ‘Tis the Season to be Jolly! So don’t lose your spark!