Wow, we made it. This past year flew by so quickly, but already we are back at one of my favorite but very sobering times of year, New Year’s Day. I remember 10 years ago sitting in the movie theatre and hearing a line from one of my now all time favorite movies. I’ll share it in just a minute, but first let me give you some of the most powerful tools that I have found to help me keep my New Year’s resolutions.
1. Be Realistic
I’m a huge dreamer. Just the other day, I walked in and told my business partner, “We’re going to hold 100 social media training classes next year!” and as usual she laughed and said, “Well, let’s sit down and see what’s realistic.” She knows better than to tell me how unrealistic that is at first, and she’s great about helping me break things down.
So when you start to set out your goals for the year, your big important New Year’s resolutions, start with something you feel is realistic, run it by someone who knows you, and don’t aim so high that you can’t even come close to succeeding.
2. Focus on Daily Changes
For years now, I have set goals each year. As a kid and a young adult, I often set goals that weren’t attainable because I would just say, “By end of the year I want to be in shape.” Or I would say, “I want to save this amount of money by the end of the year,” and I wouldn’t break it down to the daily level.
I have learned that it’s often difficult to create positive change unless we are able to break down our action steps to small daily changes. I often tell the story of how I got into working out daily by simply changing one small thing. What did I do?
I just started drinking one large glass of water each morning when I woke, and one before I went to bed. I knew that if I could change the smallest simplest behavior to start with, that I could start to think of myself as a healthy person. After doing that for a couple of months, I joined my local YMCA and told myself that all I had to do was show up 3 days a week and do 20 minutes on the stationary bike. I did that for 3 months, and then I added a little bit more to my daily routine.
Now I work out 4-5 days a week, do some cardio for 20 minutes, and then do 20-30 minutes of weight training. I never thought that I would ever have the discipline to work out at all, let alone enjoy it and look forward to it.
The key to my habit forming success was that I found one small thing that I could change on the daily level, and with that I leveraged my mindset and changed my attitude. Whatever your goals are going to be, find a way to break them into small 5 minute accomplishments that are a small daily step toward success.
The important thing about using this approach is that you can celebrate small successes and build upon them. When you start with a huge goal like, “I want to run a marathon this year,” and you don’t break it down into small daily and hourly tasks, you will feel defeated if you get a month or two into the new year and you haven’t accomplished anything.
When you accomplish the small goals consistently, this will build motivation, discipline, and incrementally help you reach your ultimate goal. Remember, without a daily action plan, most goals are invalid pipe dreams.
3. Surround Yourself with Successful Examples of Your Goal
Over the years, I have heard this phrase: “Look at your 5 closest friends. You are going to earn the exact average of all your salaries put together, you are going to be the exact average weight of them all, and you are going to be as happy or discontented as they are.”
I couldn’t find a more accurate statement about peer influence and its importance. If you want to become more financially responsible, hanging out with shopaholics wouldn’t be a good choice, would it? You would want to find people who are good at saving and planning for the future. People who know how to invest and risk properly, right?
So what if you are currently surrounded by smokers and you want to stop smoking? What about trying to become healthier, but you live with a lot of unhealthy people? What if you want to read more books, but your friends and family watch television instead of read? Sometimes you can’t avoid those people, but here is something you can do:
- You can find a book about someone who beat the smoking habit and what it did for them
- You can find a podcast or email series that talks about success stories in health
- You can join a book club and surround yourself with people who love reading
Whatever you are looking to change, you have the ability to find others who are motivated by that goal. You can surround yourself with new people that are interested in being successful in the areas that your goals are.
This is THE most important tool that I am sharing with you today. Make sure you surround yourself with people who have or are attaining the goals that you have. Peer influence is so deeply architected into our makeup as human beings that we can’t avoid it no matter how strong we think we are. So find good role models, and follow them.
What Line Stuck With Me?
Earlier I told you that I was in the theatre and heard a line that I would never forget. It rung true to me because it helped me understand my choices and the importance of time. I was watching Lord of the Rings and these lines really stuck with me:
Frodo: “I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”
Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.“
Sometimes goals feel like huge obstacles or challenges that are unfair. Sometimes we are shackled with pre-existing work, health, and family situations. Sometimes we feel like Frodo and we wish we never would have been burdened with our current trouble or trials. But that’s ok. We have the choice to step up and make decisions now with what we have.
So don’t let another year pass where you don’t reach your goals. Be realistic. Focus on daily changes. Surround yourself with successful examples of your goal.
What are your New Year’s resolutions? What helps you reach them? Share your thoughts in the comments below.