Happy new year to you!
Last week I identified why most New Years resolutions fail:
They are too specific, trivial or random
They are made in a different environment than your day-to-day
They aren’t designed to be permanent
To kick off the year, we’re going to look at a better way to approaching your goals instead, and we’ll finish off this series next week with a few practical ways to save huge amounts of mental space.
A new approach
Decide what is important
If you’re waiting for something important to miraculously present itself or are trying to find meaning in what you’re doing, you’re outsourcing your responsibility and in doing so, robbing yourself of the agency you need to keep moving, keep growing, keep moving towards your big dream..
Instead, you need to decide what is important to you. It might be really obvious if you think about it, but if you’re struggling for clarity here, ask yourself, “What will have the biggest impact on me?” It might seem selfish to do that, but if you pick something that will have a massive impact on you, that impact will ripple out and affect everything else you do.
If you show up as the person you want to be more often and for longer, everyone around you benefits.
When identifying that thing, start broad but get specific once you know what it is.
For example, if you want to get fitter:
why do you want to get fitter / how will getting fitter impact your life?
how will you measure your fitness?
what exactly does a fitter version of yourself look like?
how is that person different from who you are now?
I recommend doing this for two main paradigms of your life:
Your relationships (which includes health because that is all about your relationship with yourself)
One you’ve identified what is important and will have a huge impact, link it to a theme.
Pick two themes for your year
These themes become headings for your year, and are linked to what is most important in that paradigm of your life.
A single goal (for example, running 5km every day) might be too specific, narrow or random, and not accomplishing it can feels like a big failure. But if you’re committing to a theme you are constantly invited to stay in the process, to tweak, to find something else to focus on and do differently and be excellent at.
To pick up on the running example, you’ve identified that getting fitter is really important to you and you’ve clarified both why it is and what it might looks like practically.
However, while going through that process you realise that in this season of your life, running multiple times a week isn’t something you can sustain. Instead of letting that discourage you, because your theme is getting fitter and one of your answers to “what that person look like” includes lowering your resting heart rate from 90 to 70, you are immediately invited into creativity:
What other forms of exercise can you commit to that align with that theme?
How about swimming at the gym?
Doing weights (or even just bodyweight exercises) at home?
Do you need to find an exercise partner to help keep you in the process?
Are there other things you can do to sustainably lower your resting heart rate?
And so on.
Attach a colour to each theme
For each theme, decide on a specific colour to represent it.
Whenever you see that colour, repeat the theme in your mind and use it as a constant reminder to stay in the process. For example, if fitness is green, whenever you see grass, or a an image with green on your computer, or a person with a green shirt, just bring that theme back to front of mind and ask yourself what you can do now, or today to continue honouring your commitment to that theme.
Become excellent at what is important
Becoming excellent isn’t about reaching a target; it’s not about “am I excellent yet?”
Becoming excellent is about falling in love with the process.
It is about continually asking yourself,
“Am I still becoming?”
“Am I still growing?”
“Am I staying focused on what is important?”
When your focus is on what is important to you which is tied directly into your themes, excellence will start emerging over time and you’ll discover new potential and opportunities you didn’t realise you had and can’t see from where you are now.
What is important to you?
What are your two themes for the year? How does that link to what is important to you?
What are your colours for your themes?
How can you structure your weeks and days to ensure you prioritise time to do what is important?
Are you using a calendar? (If not, I strongly recommend doing so.) Which days, what time and with what regularity are you committing to doing what is important? Schedule it in!