Here’s some real talk: we’re often masters of delusion. We pretend that Thanksgiving is the only day of the year that we overeat, that we’re saving money by Black Friday shopping, and we will magically morph into Marion Jones just by signing up for a 5k.
One of the best parts about turning the calendar to January 1st is the rise of optimism that accompanies it. You know, that feeling about what the coming year could potentially have in store for us.
Although there are many things that will always be beyond our control, to some extent you do get to be the master of your own fate. You can stick to your goals as long as you have a plan. That being said, here are 6 ways to make your New Year’s resolutions more achievable:
1. Set realistic resolutions. Start by refusing to not set yourself up for failure. It will only discourage you, highlight your doubts and repel you from making the same resolution in the future.
The chances of you learning French, Spanish and Portuguese in 12 months are slim to none, so maybe just go for the one you took in high school if your goal is to master a second language.
Promise yourself that if you manage to get semi-decent at one of those languages by June, you can start learning another one – and there may be a 2018 trip to Brazil in the works if you’re really a good girl.
2. Be specific with your goal-setting. It’s easy to give yourself a hazy, vague idea of something that sounds like something you feel you should do. Examples: I want to ‘travel’. I want to ‘lose weight’. I want a ‘more creative job’.
More effective resolutions are: I want to go to Thailand for the Songkran festivities because it would be a unique and memorable experience or I want to lose twenty pounds so I can be less at risk for heart disease because it runs in my family or I want a job that allows me to utilize my writing skills, because writing is something I’ve always loved doing.
Break down your resolution into achievable tasks and understand why you want this particular resolution.
3. Give yourself deadlines. This is a little trick I picked up from my Passion Planner, which is a great tool for achieving your goals. There’s a little exercise you do when you start using it that forces you to write down what you want for yourself in the next 3 months, year, 5 years, and ever – like, the rest of your life. And these aren’t even the most realistic things, just the things that come to mind first.
I like the idea of this exercise because it has a way of bringing your less conscious desires to mind. What was most amazing about it was the fact that I actually overachieved some of the 2016 goals I wrote down – by years, even. Of course, that doesn’t mean I was successful at checking off every last to-do item. Maybe my resolution this year should be to get more organized.
That said, there’s something about a deadline that really lights a fire under your ass. It’s better to realize you’re not on schedule in March than in December.
4. Enlist a buddy or even a coach. Tell your friends about your goal. At best, they can help keep you motivated. At worst, they can ask you how it’s going during a happy hour conversation lull in November, sending you into a last-minute panic spiral that will hopefully kick you into high gear. You can also use an app like Stickk that will prompt you to select a goal, determine the stakes, get a referee and add support buddies.
If you’re really, really serious about a goal, consider investing in a life coach. Having money tied into something tends to force us to get more serious about it. If that’s what it takes, do it and don’t look back. It’s also helpful just to have someone to talk to about your goals and to encourage you. It makes your imminent success seem like it’s about more than just you. Feeling like part of a team adds an extra layer of motivation.
Here’s a jolting reminder: life is short, and the time we think we have isn’t always promised to us. If there’s something about your life that you truly want to change, you will not regret investing in it. If you want this to be your year, do what you think it will take to make this your year.
Whether it’s a career coach or a personal trainer who can get your wheels on the right tracks, don’t ever let anyone make you feel like your goals are unimportant or that you’re wasting money by pursuing something that makes you feel fulfilled. The changes you make this year may very well last for the rest of your life.
5. Prioritize. There’s nothing wrong with making multiple resolutions, as long as you’re prepared to prioritize. If you were on an Easter egg hunt and knew that the pink eggs were worth $100 and all the other eggs were worth $1, you’d go for the pink, right?
Your number one priority is a pink egg. Keep it at the top of your mind when you plan out your day.
6. Envision the last day of the year. Whether it’s a physical vision board or a Pinterest board, it’s helpful to have a collection of photos that represent what you’d like to achieve, like a target to aim at. Picture yourself on December 31st, counting down to a New Year with the satisfaction that you did your best in 2017. Cheers to that!