When it comes to the New Year, I feel like there are generally two kinds of people: the I’m-Going-To-Completely-Fix-My-Life-With-This-List-Of-Resolutions type and the Resolutions-Are-Stupid-Let-Me-Gloat-When-Everyone-Fails-By-February type.
Neither of these types are great. On one hand, you have a group who is waiting on a date to “make everything better” and then trying to move mountains. On the other hand, you basically have cynicism at its finest, which may just be a mask for a fear of their own needed changes. I’ve definitely fallen towards the first type earlier in my life and I went through a brief stint as the cynic as well. Now I like to think that I’m older and wiser. I definitely don’t wait for a new year to set goals and I don’t charge forward trying to change everything on January 1st. However, there is a fabulous energy around the new year that promotes change and I love to leverage that when I can.
The new year gives me time to reflect on what has been going well in my life and on what I want to improve. A great friend of mine has perfected this reflection and goal setting and I tried her method this year. This really can be done at any point during the year, so you don’t have to wait to try it out! You make 3 lists (in this order):
- What Did I Accomplish in the Past Year
- What Are My Big Goals/Dreams for the Next Year
- What Do I Want to Leave Behind
The first list is a great truth finder, especially for those of us who have a nagging inner voice of negativity sometimes (um, me!). It forces you to think about the hard work you put in over the past year. That goal you crushed in February? On the list. When you needed to set new goals in July because you finished your the January set? On the list. There it all is in black and white. Conclusive proof that you DID do awesome things. (Take that Myrtle) This list puts you into the mindset of accomplishment.
Once you are in the mindset of accomplishment, listing out the Big Goals/Dreams is much less daunting. I found that those goals that were buried deep down because of fear that I wouldn’t achieve them were easier to bring to the surface. To actually write down as terrifying as it was. Now they are there, on paper, staring you back in the face. It’s a very “woah” moment.
Now you are feeling the “woah” and you see where you are headed. This is the time to write the last list. It takes some introspection, and some honesty that you may not like to hear, but it is worth it. You start writing out the things you have in your life that aren’t serving you. The things that won’t move you in the direction of those goals you just admitted to having. The habits you know you need to break. This becomes that things you leave behind. It’s the nonsense that swirls around in your life. If you know you don’t need it, if you know it’s hindering you, it goes on the list.
Now what do you do with these lists? The first one, post it where you can read it often. I like keeping it where I can easily access it when things are getting tough (like my desk drawer at work) or in a place where I will see it each morning (like in my closet). It will be a great way to pick yourself up over the next few months.
The second list gets broken down into mini lists (hey, I’m a trained engineer so forgive my inner nerd). You list the goal at the top. Then you break it down in to smaller chunks. Then you break those chunks down in to smaller ones. And you keep breaking it down until you have something you can do daily or weekly to move you to that goal. Once they are all broken down, do yourself a favor and start scheduling the time chunks into your day. Your future self will thank you for these.
Here are some examples of my Big Goals broken down.
Big Goal #1: Make Meditation a Non-Negotiable Daily Habit
Breakdown: Get to meditating for 30 minutes per day. Break that down into two 15 minute session per day. Break that down into starting with one 15 minute session per day. Break it down even further to one 10 minute session per day.
The Plan: 10 minutes of meditation per day in January at any time. 10 minutes in the morning per day in February. 15 minutes per day anytime in March. 15 minutes in the morning every day in April, etc.
You can break down exercise goals, nutrition goals, and life goals in the same way.
For accountabilities sake, here is a list of my 2018 Big Goals/Dreams (in no particular order):
- Run a 2 hour Half Marathon
- Race a 1:30 Sprint Triathlon
- Keep Added Sugar Out of My Diet
- Make Meditation a Daily Habit
- Keep a List of 3 Happy Moments from My Day for 365 Days in a Row
- Complete One Round of Decluttering for Our House
- Practice Mindfulness, Gratitude, and Positive Thinking Consistently
- Successfully Coach 6+ Clients per Month After Graduation from IIN
There you have it. My NewYearNewMe thing in a nutshell. I plan on using this method to reassess where I am and where I am going every few months this year as well. Because when it comes down to it, you don’t need a calendar date to start moving yourself in the right direction.
Oh, and what do you do with that last list?