What is Stopping You From Achieving Your New Year's Resolution?
If you didn’t achieve your New Year’s resolution this year, don’t feel too bad, 92% of everyone else who made a resolution also failed to achieve it! If you’re in your 20’s, statistically you have a 49% better chance of achieving your New Year’s resolution than people in my age bracket 40+, where it’s as low as 14%. Maybe it’s because we’re old, wise, and happy enough already!
So, why do we fail to make hay while the New Year’s sun is shining? It’s simple really. It’s because as humans we love to make things more complicated than they need to be! That means we set ourselves up to be disappointed. How do we know we’re doing that? Because in between making things complicated for ourselves, we have ‘moments of clarity‘, when everything just seems to make sense, it all falls into place and the weight of the world temporarily lifts off our shoulders.
So, if we know we have clarity sometimes, how do we get it more? By keeping things simple! So simple that you’ll find yourself saying “that’s ridiculous, how could I possibly get anything done when it’s that simple”. Let’s explore simplicity a little more.
Keep It Simple!
Firstly, what is it in life that gets you excited? What do you like working on, investing time and energy into that makes you feel good when you accomplish it? Even when it’s hard. Whatever that “thing” is, that’s your purpose. Write it down! Now set three goals that clearly line up with doing what you love and what you’re passionate about. I can hear you now! “Here we go, more goal setting, yawn, heard it all before”. Hang in there…
The biggest mistake we make with our goals is that they’re too big! Human beings are an overconfident bunch, that’s how we survive at the top of the food chain. This means that your default is to set a target that’s way too ambitious, especially our New Year's resolution. We either set an unrealistically short time frame or if we have some experience with goal setting, a realistic one, that’s too far away in the future, so we inevitably lose interest on the way. To ensure we achieve the single most important goal we actually have to set three goals. No more, no less.
- Goal 1 (The Big One) – What do you want to achieve in the next 12 months?
- Goal 2 (C’mon, just keep going) – What do you want to achieve in the next 3 months?
- Goal 3 (How do I get there?)– What do you want to achieve at the end of the week?
Now, don’t get disappointed if you don’t achieve your weekly goals, as really, they’re more like guides. Guides to help us adjust what it is that we do each week, to keep us progressing towards our big twelve-month goal! The three-month goal is the little step along the way where we pat ourselves on the back as we leap each small incremental step towards the big one. These are the goals that keep us motivated, not too big, not too far in the future, and just right. These “on the way” goals also help us to understand whether our big goal is realistic and whether we should maybe adjust it a little. Just a little, no more than 3 more months, or you’ll never get there.
Find a wingman and communicate your goals
We are our own worst cheer squad! Find a friend or peer support group that has an affiliation with your purpose and ask the simple question “Hey, how about we work together to achieve this? I know I could really use the help”. Here’s a life hack, odds are they need the help too! The second life hack, for those whose New Year's Resolution is “Find someone to have a relationship with” is an awesome meaningful icebreaker! Your “wingy” is there to help you check that your goals are still realistic and to step in and help you when you’re finding the going is getting tough! When in doubt…contact your support!
There are no shortcuts!
Sorry folks, there are no shortcuts. Achieving your life’s purpose is hard work! Good, fulfilling, and meaningful hard work. We also know that life is hectic and there is no way that our carefully laid plans and newly found wingman are going to synchronise perfectly with the real world. So, we need to make sure we are realistic and that we adjust our activities from week to week. We get sick, we have work and family demands, and the gazillion other distractions that come with a digital age! However, no matter what you do, even if it’s five minutes, do a little something that aligns with “The Big One”.
You will fail along the way to achieving this big goal. Unfortunately, it's guaranteed! But it's actually a good thing and you’ll need to learn to enjoy riding the failure train. “Enjoy failure?” I can imagine you saying that right now, so let me clarify. Every time you fail, you learn a lesson and it’s through these lessons that you will learn to love. Here’s another life hack, they’ll also make you a more interesting person to be around!
To capture these lessons and to stop repeating the same mistakes again and again, you need to Deebs. What’s Deebs? Shh, I am going to share with you a little fighter pilot secret that was developed over 60 years ago and it’s so good it’s still used today. For me personally and outside of wearing a uniform it also allowed me to learn about happiness, financial independence, and life in general. Big Stuff. It’s called “Debriefing”. If that’s a little too CIA for you, we used to call it a Deba or my favourite, Deebs. It’s the best way to learn from failure and ensure success.
Make time for Deebs
At the end of the week ask yourself three simple questions, something I call the three Rs.
- RESULT – What did I want to do this week and what did I actually do?
- REASON – Why did I achieve/not achieve what I wanted to?
- RESPONSE -What will I do next week to improve/sustain or rest
RESULT – this one is pretty easy. What did you set out to do vs what you achieved? Really the result isn’t important. It’s the gap between our goal and where we are today that is, I call it “the performance gap”. It is the size of this gap that shapes the next conversation we have with ourselves
REASON – Ask yourself, very honestly, why is there this gap in performance, is it big or small, or bigger or smaller than last week? If the result is GOOD, keep doing what you’re doing! If it’s not what you were hoping for then ask yourself why. Notice I wrote “ask yourself why” rather than “find an excuse and blame someone else”. The reason we don’t achieve our goals rests with the way we approach them, not how something external to you affects them. They’re YOUR goals, so if there’s something in the way, adjust the plan and move around the obstacle. For every excuse, there is a corresponding action, if you’re tired and couldn’t be bothered, rest, rebuild your energy and go again!
If you’re stumped at Question number 2 then ask your wingman or this thing called the internet! If you’re still struggling try googling “Who is an expert at (Insert what you’re struggling with)”, get their phone number, and give them a ring! Simple. Question number 3 is the fun part, where we can play around with our plan and set all the exciting tasks for the week ahead that will ultimately assist us to achieve our goals, and in time, our dreams. For all those hours in between, enjoy life and do your simple daily activities that align ultimately with your sense of purpose, The Big One, and finally that New Year’s Resolution!
Stallworth, S. (2019). 8% of people stick to their New Year's resolutions…What's Yours? WZDX. https://www.rocketcitynow.com/article/news/8-of-people-stick-to-their-new-years-resolutions-whats-yours/525-46821443-35a8-41b4-a32d-c5aab2a8ed43