New Year’s Resolutions: You either love them or hate them. Some of us don’t believe in setting goals at the advent of a new calendar year because ‘time is just a social construct’, while others set lofty resolutions that they fail to achieve time and time again even if they’re ‘SMART’ goals. If you’ve found yourself frustrated by New Year’s Resolutions year in, year out, try focusing on smaller habits that will slowly drive you towards your overall goals.
Monthly Habits & Challenges > Yearly Goals
In 2018, I had much better success with my goals due to the fact that I shifted my focus to developing a new habit or trying a new challenge every month. Each one of these habits or challenges directly fed into one of my bigger-picture goals (i.e. the challenge of trying a new exercise class helped me meet the goal of being fitter). I allocated a different habit or challenge to every month, allowing me to tackle my goals bit by bit. If doing something new every month sounds too rushed, try allocating a habit or challenge to each quarter instead.
Start by thinking of what you would like to achieve in 2019 generally. From here, identify what habits you need to develop in order to achieve this goal. Want to publish that book? Spend January writing for an hour a day, and then move your focus onto networking in February. Struggling to get your health on track? Quit an unhealthy habit in February and try a new workout in March. Slowly but surely, your habits will start to add up!
By focusing on one little thing every month, you can better enjoy the cumulative effects of your efforts instead of reaching October and realising you’ve actually put on weight instead of losing any. To make sure you’re actually keeping the good habits you develop, try making every fourth month a ‘recap’ month where you solidify the habits you have been working on the past three months. A sample monthly habits and goals list for someone wishing to become healthier in 2019 could be as follows:
January: Find a new favourite fruit or vegetable
February: Get an exercise membership of some sort, whether that’s a gym membership, Classpass or the like
March: Try a workout class you’ve never done before (spin? Pilates? Boxing?)
April: Only eat out once a week (or whatever you would consider as ‘cutting down’)
May: Go meat-free twice a week
June: Schedule in all the health checks you’ve been putting off
July: Up your water intake
August: Get on top of your meal prep game
September: Develop a better sleep routine
October: Quit a bad habit, whether that’s sugar, alcohol, cigarettes or something else
November: Make walking or cycling your number one form of transport
December: Make your own granola, muesli bars etc.
Before you know it, these habits will start accumulating into a new lifestyle, which is far more effective than setting ten nebulous goals with no real steps to get you there. Start by asking yourself what steps you need to take to achieve your goal. What skills do you need to succeed? What could hinder you along the way? Who can support you?
If you want to take an even simpler approach for your New Year’s Resolutions, try setting a Word of the Year instead. Maybe you need to focus on what matters to you, or be braver in your day to day. The word guiding me in 2019, for example, is Productivity.
What are you hoping to achieve in 2019?