Love it or hate it, a new year is rolling around. Perhaps you hate it? I used to as well. This is actually my first year in which I’m looking forward to setting more goals.
Topics like this often sound cheesy and stereotypical, but what I’m sharing with you this week is real. If you take this advice, I promise you your life will change for the better.
Do you know people who hate on new years resolutions? How often have you heard someone say “if I want to make a change in my life, then I just do it”?
I’ve said it many times before.
I’m not suggesting you need to wait until the end of the calendar year to make change. However, there is not a single good reason why you shouldn’t be making big new years resolutions.
How often does the person who claims they make important changes on the fly actually take a step back and audit their success? Probably never. As human beings, we’re too caught in our day-to-day hustle to really reflect on our progress and approach.
Having a milestone like the end of the year makes all the difference. Whether or not we want to admit it, we chunk every aspect of our lives.
- We spend our days awake and our nights asleep.
- We work during the week and take the weekends off.
- We break the weeks into months. And months into years. And years into decades.
- Our age is how many years we’ve been alive.
There’s nothing wrong with looking at life as one linear roadmap, but it’s easy to get lost in the details if you don’t take a step back and analyze the “chunks”.
This is why new years resolutions are important. If you embrace the methodology, turning the calendar marks an important milestone in your life. It’s essentially a new chapter. Completing a certain part of your story within a certain amount of time puts pressure on you to make progress.
Setting a goal, working towards it, and reflecting upon it will bring you success no matter what because you’re working towards something objectively.
Don’t make the mistake of letting another mediocre year pass you by.
Start with an Audit
I began 2016 by taking a serious look at what I had done in 2015.
My realizations were depressing. I hadn’t actually done much. The days blended together into months and before I knew it, it was over. Even though I had things I wanted to accomplish, I never set out to complete them in a smart way. At the end of the year, I had little to show for.
This feeling was defeating. It’s a shame how much time I wasted, but it was the wake-up call to get my ass in gear.
How to Audit Your Previous Year
Auditing yourself isn’t a glorious exercise, but it will undoubtedly uncover your strengths and weaknesses. I can’t stress the importance of this audit.
Write the answers to these questions:
- What are your favorite memories this year?
- What did you accomplish or complete?
- Did you make any progress on big life goals?
- What was time and/or money well spent?
- What was time and/or money wasted?
- What was your biggest challenge?
- Did you overcome any major obstacles?
- What was your worst setback?
- Did you keep any bad habits?
- What felt successful about 2015?
You’ll likely notice trends while answering these questions. These trends are a reflection of your strengths and weaknesses. Understanding both is going to inform how to make next year a successful one.
Deconstructing Your Future
Setting goals is easy as long as you know what you want your future to look like. If you lack clarity in what you want your future to be, don’t worry. Just follow your gut and aim high. Even if it feels unattainable.
Try to picture yourself in 20 years from now. Perhaps you’re a millionaire living in a mansion. Sounds like a pipe dream, but its entirely possible. But you’re not just going to get lucky and become a millionaire.
What do you need to have completed in 15 years time to make this happen? Well, once you have a lot of money to live comfortably with, you can put your money to work. Perhaps you start a business or get into investing. Before the mansion and the huge bank account, you need to have a healthy baseline to grow with.
Continue moving backwards. What do you need to within 10 years to put yourself in a position to begin making good money? You could start a client-driven business and grow it. You could create a product line and sell. You could develop an online course and teach. There are countless ways to make money doing whatever it is you do. But first you need an audience or client base to sell to.
Take it back to 5 years. What do you need to do by this time to set yourself up for going into a serious business? Well, you need to be an expert at something, so if you’re not there yet, your next five years should be dedicated to progression in your area of expertise.
This is obviously just an example, but apply the approach to your own thinking. Don’t rush this. Take some time to think deeply about who you want to be in 20 years.
Defining Your Resolutions
If you can successfully deconstruct your future, you’re ready to set some goals.
Consider what it will take to become an expert in your passion. Break this down into 1, 2 and 5 year timelines if it helps. These milestones should be your resolutions and your goals should be stepping stones.
These stepping stones should be achievable. They shouldn’t depend on someone else. If you want your work to get published in a book, your goal shouldn’t be to get published in a book. Instead, your goal should be to submit X number of works to a publication.
A resolution can be daunting. This is why most people give up in the first couple of weeks.
To prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed, break down your action items into monthly or quarterly tasks. This way you can always be tracking your progress. Instead of being discouraged by the size of the overall picture, you can focus on one small item at a time.
Don’t Let Another Year Pass
The biggest thing preventing you from a successful future is your hesitance to begin.
You might be afraid of working towards something you end up not wanting to do. Here’s the truth: you will. But it will not be wasted effort. It simply becomes the road you need to take in order to get on the road to your desired destination.
You’ll find yourself pivoting here and there. You might even completely change directions at one point. But no matter what, it’s forward momentum. If you progress forward, you won’t have regrets.
Don’t be afraid of the starting line.