It’s days before the dawn of 2015 and if you are anything like me, you have lots of ideas about how you would like to make next year – the best year of your life.
I am a learner and a self-motivator, but if I think about my track record, I have very rarely completed all of my New Year’s Resolutions. Moreover, I never made those resolutions permanent habits that change the way I live.
What is it about New Year’s resolutions that make them particularly fleeting? I am asking myself this question seriously this year because unlike years prior – I have some big life changes and adventures that I want to make happen for myself in 2015 and beyond. My goals have move away from just “run a marathon” or “eat healthy” to more significant life altering adjustments I want to make…So you can imagine that I am treating these resolutions much more sincerely this time!
What about you? Do you have some goals for the upcoming year that you want to be serious about?
What Hasn’t Worked
Since I am 100% set on reaching my 2015 goals, I think it’s important to take a look at all my failed attempts at reaching my past resolutions to discover where I went wrong. After careful contemplation, I have narrowed down my list to the top 3 reasons that most people (including myself) have failed:
1. We have nothing to lose, and not much to gain
The biggest resolution examples here are vague ones like, “I want to lose weight” or “I want to exercise more.”
The problem is that these goals are a shallow solution toward a bigger problem. Most people who say they want to lose weight or exercise more, are simply verbalizing their desire to feel energized and full of life, or their need to have a sense of confidence in themselves again. If they are really honest, they don’t want to eat healthy all the time in order to lose the weight, and they especially don’t get excited about getting up out of bed each morning to go run on the treadmill before the sun comes up… I certainly don’t!
Because they haven’t really identified a goal that will tackle the main issue they are facing, the aspiration is not strong enough to spark a reoccurring action. They haven’t thought about what they would really like to gain and what the consequences are if they don’t make the change.
For those of us who “want to exercise more” – what do we want to gain? And perhaps more importantly, what do we have to lose if we don’t take action? Once we answer these questions, we may change our goal to a more targeted approach that can continue to motivate us throughout the year.
For Example –
Goal: I want to exercise in 2015
Q: What do I want to gain?
A: I want to feel energized and get my BMI to down to 23.
Q: What do I have to lose?
A: I will continue to feel sluggish and tired, and I will have a BMI that makes me venerable to disease and lowered longevity.
Now, what are other goals that could help me reach my targeted goal?
A: I could improve my sleeping habits and stress levels in addition to exercising alone.
New Improved Goals: I will get at least 7 hours of sleep each night and exercise for just 15 minutes in the morning on weekdays in order to improve my BMI and stress levels.
2. We don’t have a deadline
This is my worst problem! I often set out with lofty plans, only to get to about March before I forget what I am working for and what the point was. Without a deadline to work toward, it’s easy to get off track. Humans are competitive by nature and a simple date marked on the calendar can help us work toward achieving our resolutions. Don’t just say, “ In 2015, I will_______.”
Turn this into smaller goals throughout the year. And don’t just stop with a 6 month or quarterly goal; break it down to the smallest degree possible, so you know what do each day. For example:
Annual Goal: I will get at least 7 hours of sleep each night and exercise for just 15 minutes in the morning on weekdays in order to improve my BMI and stress levels.
1st six-month goal: By July 1st, I will be setting my alarm to wake up 30 minutes earlier to make time for exercise. 2 out of 5 of these days will be successful workouts.
January monthly goal: I will set my alarm to wake up 30 minutes early, Monday to Friday. I will spend this time reading or getting ready for work in a more relaxed way.
January first weekly goal: This week, I will set my alarm for 15 minutes earlier.
Day 1 (January 1st goal): I will get up at 6:15 instead of 6:30. I won’t press the snooze button.
See how this works? It’s one step at a time. Each day is working toward the weekly goal, which works toward the monthly goal. Don’t try on day one to start a new routine that is drastically different from your old one. You will crash and burn quickly, like I have time and time again.
3. We don’t surround ourselves with people succeeding in the area we want to improve
This is the #1 reason why we fail. Think about your social circle. Are they living the way you want to live? If you want to create a healthy lifestyle for yourself by getting sleep and exercising, you better be surrounded by those who find importance in this as well. If not, than your restaurant choices, social activities and conversations will sabotage your efforts. I have some acquaintances who have formed a little pack of vegetarians who not so coincidently, have slowly all become vegans and are extremely interested in cold-press juicing in particular. Wonder why?
It’s pretty obvious. Their interests in healthy living spark conversations about taking their lifestyles to the next level and those in the group that are succeeding at a fully vegan lifestyle made it nearly impossible for the others to maintain their “mediocre” vegetarian habits.
This is just an example, but it can be applied to any and every lifestyle you wish to have. Want to run a marathon? Start hanging out with marathon runners. Want to volunteer abroad? Start making friends with people who make travel a reality for themselves and volunteer.
It’s only a matter of time before they tell you how they have done it and encourage you to take action. You will naturally change your question from, “How do I do this?” to “How can I NOT do this!?”. Relationships are the most powerful tools for our goals. Go make some that matter.
If you can’t find a group of like-minded individuals right away – read books, listen to podcasts and follow blogs (hint hint) from those that can teach you a thing or two about reaching your goals.
A Different Kind of 2015
With these powerful tools in hand, I am excited to claim all that this upcoming year has in store for me. It’s going to be hard work, but I know that with a clear convincing goals, daily to-do lists and an army of people around me leading the way – it’s going to be a whole lot more likely than past years. I hope that you too will arm yourself with the right mindset, tools and relationships to reach your New Year’s resolutions in 2015.
Moreover, I hope that if meaningful travel and volunteering are on your list of goals for this upcoming year, that The Global Commute will help inspire and equip you in your efforts.
Feature Photo Credit: petrelos/iStock/Thinkstock