“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” Brad Paisley
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Paisley’s words are inspiring, right? This quote sure makes me want to sit down and write out some resolutions and tackle them right away.
But when was the last time you accomplished all of your New Year’s resolutions? Be honest here. For me, it’s a rarity.
Why is that?
We all start with the best of intentions to make more time for ourselves, to lose that last (or first!) ten pounds, to spend more quality time with those we love, or to hit a work milestone. Is it that we’re too ambitious with our goals? Or are we all just slackers who can’t get it done – year after year?
My main problem over the years has been that I almost always bite off more than I can chew. The beginning of a new year is a time of renewal, a time when I look at what I want life to be – without always taking into account what life is. I set lofty goals in a bunch of different areas and have no plan in place to actually achieve them.
So this year I’m taking a different approach, and I hope you will try it with me!
I’ve identified four steps to achieving my New Year’s resolutions, and I hope they will help you, too. The first three can be accomplished up front before or right at the start of the new year, and then the last step involves implementing and checking in throughout the year.
Here they are:
#1. Pick a reasonable number of goals.
There are several categories that people normally rely on for resolutions. I’ve broken them down here, along with some ideas for goals in each category. I would suggest picking no more than 3-4 goals for the year. Whether you pick one from each category or decide to focus on one category, it’s important not to have a long list that you’ll have no chance of completing.
#2. Pick goals that are actually achievable.
If your top 2019 goal is to lose weight, you won’t benefit from setting some unreasonable or unachievable goal. And think hard about whether you want the goal to be a weight loss number or not. Instead of saying you want to lose twenty pounds, and being disappointed if you lose fifteen, perhaps a better resolution is to improve your overall health by adding an exercise routine and improving your diet. Or you could get specific with a 30-day wellness program you’ll complete.
Likewise, if your goal is to pay off your debt, take a hard look and see what you can actually get done in 2019. Can you get it all paid off? Or should you commit to paying off a certain percentage – and then if you can do even more, great!
#3. Develop a plan.
Goals are super – but all of us need some way to implement them. I suggest writing out each goal on a sheet of paper, with space below each to list out 2-3 actionable items for each one. For example, if your aim is to make progress paying off debt, a few immediate action items might be to 1. Assess how much debt you have; 2. Figure out what you’ve got in your monthly budget that can go towards paying the debts down (this might also entail making a monthly budget if you don’t already have one); 3. Determine where you should be at the end of the year if you stay on track, and then set up some benchmarks to check in on along the way. For example, if you assess that you can reasonably pay off $1000 of debt over the course of the year, perhaps set a benchmark to have $500 paid off by July.
Sidenote – if paying off debt is one of your goals, Dave Ramsey has a great model you can use, called the “snowball” method. Once you pay off one debt, you take what you were paying on that and put it towards another, thus “snowballing” your debts away.
#4. Check in with yourself regularly to see how it’s going.
I love plans. I love everything about them – sitting down to write out the goals, figuring out how to accomplish them, and then implementing them. The trouble with New Year’s resolutions is that I haven’t always followed up on the implementation part. But this year, I’m going to do it – and you’ll hold me accountable, right? I will create a timeline of when I want to complete my goals, starting with the easiest to do and working my way up to the more difficult. And I will check in on them periodically to see how I’m doing and recalibrate if needed. And by the way – if you need to tweak your goals midway through, it’s not the end of the world. The idea is to set them so that you’ll have a chance at achieving them, right?
This year, I also plan to keep my goals and action items someplace I will see them regularly – I suggest you do the same!
So what are my 2019 resolutions? I picked a few off of the list I came up with in this post. Here they are:
Develop and implement a regular exercise regime.
Cut down on my sugar intake and find some new healthy options for lunches and dinners.
Focus on the positive in people and situations.
Happy New Year and Happy ‘Resolutioning’!! Comment below and let me know what your resolutions are. And remember, if you need some ideas, check out my list here.