"New Year=New You. Decide today who you will become, how you will live, and what you will give.” - Tony Robbins
I felt like the world was my oyster, excited about the possibilities for the year ahead, and I felt rejuvenated after taking off over a week from my hectic job.
Each year the New Year was always going to be a BIG year for me.
I found a comfortable place, sat down cross-legged with pillows propped up behind me to get comfy as I settled in to do some work on myself. I opened my ‘special’ journal, the one with a hard leather cover, nicely bound, with my favorite pen pushed and fastened between the pages. This was my journal for planning – the one where I wrote down my thoughts reflected on last year and, more importantly, the ambitious goals I wanted to achieve in the new year.
I pondered and thought through an intense battery of questions, such as: “What am I proud of this year?” or “What could I have done better?" I commended myself for some good things I did while on others, I beat myself up for goals that kept on coming up on my list year after year. By the end of the process, I was exhausted from all my reflecting and overwhelmed by the mountain of goals that I set out to accomplish for the new year.
I made these new year’s resolution mistakes for YEARS.
It took me a good part of my adult life to realize I got the whole process wrong.
Do you know why most people abandon their new year’s resolutions by the 2nd week of February?
“Because resolutions are often just desires and fun things you want to have or to happen,” according to Tony Robbins.
Immediately, I had insecurities about what I didn't do last year. I didn't do enough; I didn't work hard enough (which isn't true); I didn't achieve enough. How can anyone reflect and challenge himself with the burden of feeling not good enough?
How to avoid this: I learned to celebrate PROGRESS. For instance, I had a goal to get in the best shape of my life and set a goal of working out every day, and I didn’t do it. What kind of a superhuman can expect to work out every day? Even the top athletes in the world don’t work out like this! Although I saw huge progress and I was working out almost 3x a week, I had to look at my progress for the entire year. That was what fueled my desire to continue because, in total, I had worked out more than I ever did in any other year in my life. So, this shift in mindset encouraged the heck out of me to progress towards more exercise every week. Gratitude is another incredible way to celebrate good things in your life instead of focusing on lack. Focusing your attention on the good things will help you see through a new lense of positivity, and then you can see the progress. The 5-minute journal is a great habit to put into your day to help this.
For someone, like me, who wrote specific goals and brand plans every year as a marketing professional, I didn’t do this well in my own life. Of course, when you write a goal like “I am going to work out every day”, it is destined to fail!
How to avoid this: In the book, the Flipside of Failure by Elizabeth Miner, she recommends writing a goal statement – a statement that is specific, active, has a date and, most importantly, has emotion to it, such as how I feel when I am doing the goal, and why I am even doing it. So instead of “I am going to work out every day”, it became “ I feel great when I work out just 20 minutes a day; it sets up my whole day, I have the energy to tackle the day, and I feel I can accomplish anything”. My goal is to exercise 4x per week, and I will do this by March 15th of this year. My workouts include an alternating strength or cardio workout from my app list. After that, I will have this as a regular habit to continue for the rest of the year.
This is my ultimate failure, as there used to be dust collecting on that beautiful leather-bound book. However, there was a reason why I didn't review my progress. I knew I wasn’t anywhere near to achieving what I wanted, and the needs of my career ALWAYS got in the way. So, I self-sabotaged myself and avoided the truth altogether (until the end of the year, when nothing could be done). It was selfish, and it was also unfair to myself because when my career (as I knew it) disappeared from my life, I was left with not working on my own health and well-being.
How to avoid this: Hang up your goals in the shower (seriously) or on your bulletin board, or somewhere that you will stumble upon it every day. Your Goal Statement can be laminated so you can look at it every day (like in the shower). When you look at it, it should create a nagging feeling inside you that you have to do something about it. For five minutes a week, evaluate yourself and ask: “What is happening with my goal?”, “Did I take any action this week to progress towards it?” “What steps can I accomplish next week to see progress towards it?”
If you are like me you like checking the boxes on a task list. There is a time for tasks, and this is one of them. A goal shouldn't be a task – however the steps within the goal are tasks. An action plan is all the steps that you need to achieve to set out your goal. For example, I realized that my goal of working out every day – was actually a task. Instead, I reframed it as: To bring exercise as a regular habit every in my life and do it at least 4x per week forever. My Action plan to get there should be something like this:
For anything that I have done well, such as accomplishing goals, or changing our lifestyle, it had all been because I had someone else that was encouraging and challenging me. You need an accountability partner. Elizabeth states this in her book too. If you set goals and strive to do them yourself, you have a bigger chance of failing. I had this mindset my entire life that I should do anything myself. It's not true, and why should I want to do it alone? I know I get things done when someone makes me accountable. Troy has been my rock, the guy that challenges me when I am not doing something I said I would do. The same goes for my Spanish teacher. The most important reason why I got to Spanish classes is my accountability to practice and do my homework every week. Who is your accountability partner?
In point #1, I changed my mindset from not feeling worthy in using goals as a means to contribute to becoming worthy of myself and to others. Now, I set goals from outside vs. from inside. This is why over the past three years, Troy and I have recreated our lifestyle. Answer this question: "What can this goal do to become a better person?" Mine is to provide self-care to myself (exercise), to be healthy, and to happily contribute responsibly and actively to the world. It is a shift in perspective, instead of wanting or needing anything, it is about how we can best help others. I want to add exercise in my life because I know that a healthy lifestyle will allow me to have energy and ability to not only do what I want to do in life but to also use my skills, volunteer my time, and help other people in their business journey. We also want to change your opinions through this blog – to inspire you to think more consciously about your actions, habits, your views of the world and to make your own changes in your lives. So, I use this new lens to feel like I am ‘enough’ and to measure my success, instead of my past goals of making a certain growth in salary or getting promoted to a new position. Instead, my goals are about contribution and helping others using my skills.
So, what are you going to decide today for this year and commit to the whole year?
How are you going to live? What are you willing to give? What do you want to become? Maybe my issues can help you to progress towards your own new life goals.
What about you? What new years resolution mistakes have stopped you from achieving your goals? We'd love to hear from you.
Dorene is a marketing consultant and freelance writer. She quit her 20-year career in marketing to redesign her career and lifestyle on her own terms by living location independent. Now with her husband Troy, she helps people who want to redefine their midlife and make conscious changes at TravelLifeX. She also trains & coaches travel and hospitality clients to improve their marketing at TravelLifeMedia.com