First month of the new year and it feels like a prime time for a reset. Everything around us is giving us the feeling that endless possibilities lie ahead and now is the perfect time to reflect and re-evaluate where we are in life as well as to make big decisions for the future.
I will agree 100% with the importance of reflecting. Reflection is great. It allows us to take notice of everything that happens to us and brings more mindfulness in our lives. Also setting goals and planning out how we are going to reach them is what The Smart Plan is all about. By all means dream, set goals, plan, yes.
What doesn‘t make any sense to me is to wait the whole year long for this specific, one and only time to start improving myself and making my life better.
Research shows that about 80% of people fail to stick to their New Year’s resolutions for longer than six weeks and that most of the people link these decisions with pain instead of joy. Nevertheless New Years’ provides us with a good excuse for reflection which is always a great idea!
So how can we use this excuse constructively and what kind of behaviours will help us make positive changes to our life?
Be true to yourself
One of the reasons we probably fail to deliver our goals, is that we are trying to achieve something that is based on external factors like society, friends and family etc. Achievements like weight loss or daily exercise are usually such. Be honest with yourself about what your heart desires. Set resolutions based on what you truly want and you will increase your chance of success. Also when you pursue something you are passionate about, you have greater chances to stay committed and persistent.
Be realistic and adaptive
Probably some goals are totally unrealistic. We sometimes set goals that are unreasonable and impossible to reach. Like believing that we can lose a lot of weight in a short period of time. Or following a new career path, without having a clue about the current state of the specific business venture or creative field.
Invest time to learn and hustle hard for the information you need to gather in order to accomplish what you have in mind. Fill your skill gaps or gain relevant experience. And most importantly first figure out if your idea is realistic, to set yourself up for a better chance of success. Be open to the possibility of changing or adjusting your goal if needed.
Keep your focus on your end destination but don’t forget to enjoy the ride
The pressure of setting resolutions that will change our lives makes us eager to see results really fast. We pressure ourselves to get more done and to reach the maximum of our productivity. We spend often all our time and energy focusing on our goal and we often forget to take a break.
Breaks are very significant. They allow us to decompress and in my experience, they are absolutely essential for any creative process. It’s more likely that you will come up with a great idea, while taking a walk, than when you are squeezing your brain to come up with ideas and solutions.
Carve out some leisure time in your daily schedule and meet friends, do some gardening, declutter your home or workspace, take a walk, listen to some music, do whatever you want, or nothing at all. Just give permission to yourself to stop feeling busy.
Living in an instant gratification society we demand quick results. We are so used to having everything on-demand that we expect success right here right now. Create realistic expectations about how much time a process needs and give your idea some space. Goals evolve, like we do, things change all the time. Some things work, some don’t. If your results don’t meet your deadlines, maybe you should re-evaluate your deadlines, instead of feeling disappointed.
From having an idea until carrying it to fruition there is often a long path. If your goal seems too big and unachievable you tend to second guess it. Being crystal clear about what you want, breaking down your goal to small steps and taking action is how you can maximize your chances for success. And even if you’re not there yet, don’t forget to celebrate the small wins along the way.
Don’t let failure get you
Apparently there will be setbacks and disappointments. Failures are inevitable in our journey. Don’t take everything that happens personally, you only learn from your mistakes, there is no other way. And move on. I know it hurts. But learn to be comfortable with the fact that you will probably fail sometimes and forgive yourself. Start the next day with a positive attitude and keep working towards your goals.
These days my source of inspiration is my 11 month daughter. Learning to walk is not so easy as it sounds. It is a painful process that includes a lot of falling, getting dirty, hitting on several objects. But somehow her young brain hasn’t linked failure to total shame and disappointment, like most of adults do. She might cry a bit and then she forgets about it and moves on with enthusiasm. Not a bad attitude, right?
It is your decision when is the right time for you to take initiative and act towards your dreams, ideas or visions. But don’t overthink it. You will never be fully prepared, 100% certain, it will never be completely risk-free and there is not a perfect moment in time somewhere in the future. What are you waiting for?
Wishing you all a happy, healthy, prosperous new year filled with joy!