How many New Year's resolutions have you made? And how many have you broken?
New Year’s resolutions get a really bad wrap. Too many people write a long list on January 1st and then by February most their resolutions have already fallen by the wayside. Of course the easy conclusion is not to make New Year’s resolutions at all, but this is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It is not so much the intention to set New Year’s resolutions that is faulty, but the planning and execution of these desires.
Resolutions are merely statements of our goals for the coming year - new habits or ways of life that we would like to automate. If you've read my blog on breaking bad habits and creating new ones you understand how hard new habits are to make so it’s no wonder so many are disappointed by their efforts! The worst thing is they then assume these goals are out of their reach, too hard or unrealistic, when in most cases it is not the resolution but the strategy that is to blame! I’ve spoken about creating successful goals before so I won’t go back over it all here; I just want to implore you to give resolutions a go - it’s as good a time as any to refocus your intentions!
Give these strategies a go to ensure that your plans for 2016 come to fruition.
The New Year is a wonderful time for looking ahead, but it can also be a wonderful time for reflecting on the year that has passed, and being grateful! Before you plan your goals for next year, why not take a moment to think about everything you have achieved this year, and reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and perhaps most importantly, why it didn’t work? With this knowledge you can approach the new year with perspective and an understanding of what you will need to realise your new goals.
I am going to lose weight is a vague goal… I am going to get better at live performance is a vague goal… I am going to learn to manage my performance anxiety is a vague goal… The more specific you can be, the more direction you will have and the more realistic your goal will become. How much weight would you like to lose? By when? How will you know you have achieved your goal?
Why is this goal so important to you? What are the payoffs of achieving it? How will life be different when it is achieved? By asking these questions we can gain clarity and motivation for achieving each goal.
Break it down
A goal such as ‘Get job with a leading orchestra’ is pretty useless if you haven’t thought through exactly how you're going to achieve it. What will you need to apply? What technique will you need to work on? What mental skills will you need to build in order to prepare for the audition, and how are you going to go about achieving each of these things? One of the biggest mistakes in goal setting is forgetting to break your goals down into smaller, achievable chunks you can work towards on a daily basis. Your goals may take all year (or longer!) to achieve, but you can only take each day at a time.
The power of subtraction
2016 doesn’t need to be the year you achieve all your life long dreams. There is only so much we can achieve in one year and only so far our willpower will stretch. It is better to achieve half a dozen key goals than give up on a dozen, simply because it was all too hard! Where possible, try to address one goal at a time, so that you can devote all your attention and once it becomes habitual, or realised, you can move on to the next. If you find you have spare time at the end of the year, you can always add in some more!
This is my favourite strategy! When I wanted to create a new habit of eating healthier food I started to pay a great deal of attention to how I felt when I ate food that was good for me, and how I felt when I weakened, and ate unhealthy things - which I did… many times! Rather than beat myself up for my ‘failure’ I just observed… how sluggish I felt…, how I didn’t sleep as well… how the sugar was making me agitated… and slowly but surely, I noticed I no longer wanted to eat these foods - they gradually lost their appeal. So don’t beat yourself up when you lapse - and you probably will! - don’t chuck your goals out, just recognise that you aren't there yet, and think about how that feels.
Thank you to everyone who has been reading my blog posts throughout the year. I hope they have been an inspiration and a help to you, and that my goal for 2015 - to empower performers with the essential mental tools for success and fulfilment in their careers - has been realised through your growth and satisfaction! It’s top of my list for 2016 as well, so if there is anything I can do to assist in your goals for 2016, please don't hesitate to ask:)
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