Throw Away Your New Year's Resolution (and Replace it With This Instead)
Byron| January 3rd, 2014
SELF-IMPROVEMENT & SUCCESS
SELF-IMPROVEMENT & SUCCESS
Don't do it. Don't be one of those people that hastily proclaim, "Y'know what? I'm making a change. From now on this year, I'm working out until I kill myself and I'm dropping a shit ton of weight." Not that your new goal isn't noble or anything, it's just that...you already know you're not going to follow through on it.
How do I know this? Because it's human nature to NOT keep these "New Year's Resolutions." They're not backed by a firm commitment, often made without inputting much planning or real thought, and flimsy promises at best.
Instead of making another "New Year's Resolution," do this instead: create and execute a written goal you put into motion.
STEP ONE: CHOOSE A GOAL
When you think about what you want to achieve in 2014, ask yourself these questions first:
- Is it specific? Meaning do you have a clear vision of where you want to go or just a hazy idea? For example, choosing "I want to be more outgoing" this year is a terrible goal. It's not nearly specific enough to give your brain concrete directions for getting what you want. Instead, replace it with something more precise: "I want to attend at least 5 networking events."
- Can I measure it? Meaning do you have a goal that you can clearly define your progress towards? Choosing, "I will be kinder to my wife" is another terrible goal. Why? Because you have absolutely NO way of knowing if you hit the mark or not. You have absolutely no way of charting your progress or seeing how close you are to achieve it. Replace this with, "I will surprise my wife with a romantic gift once a month" instead. If you're having trouble making your goal measurable, ask yourself what is something you could do or see show up that would let you know without a shadow of a doubt you have succeeded?
- Is it realistic? Meaning deep in your gut, are you willing to put in the work to get what you say you want? Or are you going to punk out and play the excuse card as soon as the weather gets rough? Before you commit to ANYTHING, always do a gut-check. Rate your confidence on a scale of 1-10 with your likelihood to finish the goal you're intending. 1 being there is no way in hell you are going to get there and 10 being Honey, let's go to Vegas and put ALL of our money on RED because we AIN'T LOSING. If you're scoring anywhere from 1-6, you're goal is not realistic enough. Aim a little lower. Now, listen, I'm not saying that you shouldn't stretch yourself or get outside of your comfort zone. These are always good things - but make sure you commit to something that you have a good chance of completing. If you stretch yourself TOO far, when things start going south, you'll actually be DE-motivated from working towards your goal - and that ain't good.
STEP TWO: WRITE THE GOAL DOWN
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Here is where you pull out a sheet of paper and literally write your goal down. It's not good enough to just say, "Yeah I'll get around to knocking this out." Your brain reacts in a vastly different way when you declare you will achieve something verses you actually writing it down. Your subconscious mind treats written goals in a totally different way and studies have shown you are far more likely to fulfill goals once they are put in words.
Once you have the goal down, put it somewhere you can visibly see it. This will remind you on a daily basis to keep making progress toward it and refuse to make excuses. I personally use a white dry erase board I keep in my office with a list of my weekly, monthly, and yearly goals scribbled down on it. Every time I look up and see it pinned to the wall, I'm reminded of the direction I want to go and get re-acclimated to what it is I'm aiming for.
As silly as this sounds, I believe one of the biggest reasons why we don't achieve our goals is simply because we're not looking at them on a daily basis. We let them slide out of our memory too easily until they are forgotten - or until we've slacked for a few months and then decided it's too painful to think about them again. Having a written goal that is staring you in the face every day helps keep your ass in check, and you will be grateful you have a reminder to be excellent on days when you don't feel like doing much of anything.
STEP THREE: KNOW WHY YOU WANT IT
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Think about why you're committing to achieving this specific goal. What will it do for you if you follow through on it? How would your life look or feel different? How would YOU look or feel different? How would your friends and family react? What will it cost you if you don't follow through on finishing the goal? How painful will it be for you if you don't get where you want to go?
Putting some serious time into answering this question will make a humongous impact on your likelihood to keep going when you feel like quitting. If you're not CRYSTAL CLEAR on WHY you want to achieve a new goal, you're not going to have the necessary motivation to stick it out when things aren't going your way or when you don't feel like doing what needs to get done.
If when you think about your reason for knocking out a new goal and your answer is, "because it will feel good" - realize this is NOT a good enough motivation! Go DEEPER into your thought process - why will it make you feel good? What is it about your goal that really resonates with you? Specifically what kind of impact is completing it going to have in your day to day life? The more reasons you can give for this, the more ammunition you have for reloading and firing away when you find yourself in a rut.
STEP FOUR: KNOW ALL POTENTIAL OBSTACLES
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Make a list of everything that could possibly disrupt your ability to stay on course. Write down what you anticipate being the biggest barriers to you achieving the goal and don't leave anything out.
For example, let's say your big goal for 2014 is to lose 25 pounds. To get there, you know you need to hit the gym at least four times a week and consume less calories than you burn daily.
Your biggest obstacles could be:
- Traveling a lot and not being able to prepare healthy foods
- Friends calling you up to go out drinking
- Boredom with eating the same shit over and over again
- Getting burned out from working out so much
- Not knowing exactly what kind of workout plan or diet to stick with
Thinking about your obstacles and then creating a gameplan for handling them let's you do less thinking in times of crisis. This means you burn less willpower - which means you won't suffer from the dreaded relapse you get from pushing yourself to exhaustion. When you have a strategy for dealing with problems as soon as they come up, you are already 1/2 way toward completing your goal.
STEP FIVE: HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE
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This is the LEAST sexy step. Because it means you burn the bridge that allows you to make excuses and you FORCE yourself to follow through on doing whatever it takes to achieve the goal. Here is where most people conveniently tune out and say, "I don't need someone else holding me accountable. I'm capable of doing this ALL BY MYSELF."
Here's the deal: yeah, you might be capable of doing it all by yourself. And if you are, good for you. But here's another way of looking at it: If you're so confident in your ability to hit your goal, tell one of your friends you are personally going to pay him $100 if you don't. Put some skin in the game and REALLY ensure you do what you say you are going to do.
You see, it's human nature to make excuses. We do it all the time. We slam the snooze button, say we'll workout tomorrow when it's less crowded, declare we'll start our diet tomorrow, say that we're "too tired" or "too busy" or "too BLAH" to keep our commitments. And the sad thing is, our friends usually don't call us out on it.
Think about your special goal you want to achieve for this year. Now imagine that you didn't get it done - that you're right back to square one. Zero progress. Picture telling your current friends what happened - that you wanted to make a serious change in your life but just couldn't get around to doing it. In fact, imagine taking every one of your best friends out to dinner and sharing a meal with them. Then see yourself telling them, "Yeah, about that thing I wanted to do...never got around to doing it. Shit happened. I was too busy/tired/not in the mood." How would they HONESTLY react? If they're anything like most of our friends, they probably express disappointment, then offer some encouragement, and then quickly change the subject. In other words, it PROBABLY WOULDN'T MATTER to them.
We just don't have much accountability in our culture. We don't have that ONE person in our lives that refuses to let us slip and make lousy excuses. So I'm saying go and get one! Pick one of your friends and appoint him as your personal check-in man. Tell him to text you, call you, email you and consistently reach out to you to make sure you're doing what you said you were going to do. Don't let him let you get away with making excuses.
To take it one step further, create a punishment he'll make you endure if you fall short. Either agree to pay him, embarrass yourself in front of him, or negotiate a unique penalty you will want to avoid at all costs. Engineering some painful consequences for not knocking out your goal can actually mean the difference between quitting or finding a way to get what you committed to accomplished. As an added bonus, you can have your buddy take you out for a beer when you finish your goal for 2014 and celebrate with you. This time, he might actually care about whether or not you did what you said you were going to do.
If you want an excellent free workbook for planning out 2014, I recommend checking out the 2013-2014 yearly planner by Invisible University International. It can be downloaded here:
May 2014 be your most productive year yet.
About Byron Van Pelt
Byron Van Pelt is a Certified Life Coach, entrepreneur, and published author of Unshakable Swagger: The Man's Guide to Being Confident Any Time, Any Place...Period. He is now happily married with his wife, Bethany and lives in Jacksonville, Florida. With over eight years of dedication to the world of high-end personal development, he utilizes an arsenal of skills to accelerate his clients' breakthroughs in business, dating, health, and fulfillment. Byron specializes in teaching men how to explode their level of confidence in everything they do and ensure it resonates in even the most challenging circumstances.