2018 is just a few days away. That means my favourite time of year is coming. It’s that special time when you make new year resolutions which you will break in February. All the good intentions and wishful thinking that comes head to head with the cold hard reality. What a beautiful thing.
Since I’m painfully aware of how hard it is to stick to new year resolutions, over the years I’ve come up with a pretty intricate system of rules and reminders to allow me to meet my goals. This is going to be a short summary of how I make my new year resolutions and a plea for all of you dear readers to come up with your own.
Let’s start with what you shouldn’t do. You should not, by any means, make bullshit new year resolutions. I’m talking about resolutions such as “be happy with what I have” or “be kinder to myself” (You know who I’m talking about). This sort of resolutions are completely useless for two reasons.
First, resolutions should not be abstract. It has to be something reasonably concrete. Ideally something that you can point to and say, look I did that. For example, completing a certain long standing project would be a very concrete goal whose success you can measure.
Second, it needs to be something you can break up into smaller steps. That way you can implement it throughout the year. For example, if you want to read 12 books in 2018, each book would be a step that brings you closer to your goal. Being kind to yourself is a failure on both criteria.
But enough with negativity. Let’s talk about what you should do. Since I’m old, with a vast amount of experience through my years of failure, I’ve discovered one key attribute that will make meeting your new year resolutions 10 times easier. The key to meetings them is accountability.
Yes I know, it’s a pretty obvious statement but it doesn’t tell much does it? So here’s the three things that I did in 2017 and found extremely helpful.
Write your goals down. To be honest, I’ve read more books than I can count that advised me to write something down on a piece of paper. I never did. It’s a pain in the ass. Not to mention I’ll probably lose the paper. However, writing down your goals is important because you’re likely going to forget them. Unless of course you’re always wishing to lose weight.
Additionally, writing them down can be really easy in something like Google Sheets. You pop it open, write a few things and it’s saved for eternity. That’s what I’ve done. As a side benefit, if you keep up this habit, you get to see what you were trying to achieve over the years as long as you reuse the same spreadsheet.
Write down the steps for each goal. So remember what not to do #2? Make sure you do the opposite when picking your goals and then in that same spreadsheet, under each goal, write down the practical steps you can do to meet your goal. For example, if your goal is to take better care of your health, you can list things like work out frequency and diet changes that you will be implementing as part of the goal.
Grade yourself regularly. Here’s how it works. Open up whatever calendar you use and create a recurring event once every two months to remind you to check in on your goals. Each time you check in, give yourself a grade for each step and an overall grade for the goal itself. This works well because you get a regular reminder of what it is that you were trying to do for the year.
The conventional way of declaring a new year resolution on December 31st fizzles out quickly as life piles on with commitments and obligations. I would argue that most people can’t even remember their new year resolution from 2016 and definitely not from 2015. By reminding yourself what you wanted to achieve for the year, each time you veer off course, you get an opportunity to realign.
I have a check in coming up on December 28th for all my resolutions for 2017. I’ll post them on the blog together with my resolutions for next year. Stay tuned.