Note: This post is more of a pep talk to myself. However, I’m sure many of you can relate to the internal battle of setting goals for the new year.
We’ve just entered a new year, and gym memberships are in peak season. This is no surprise as most of us are recovering from Christmas festivities and are looking to latch onto any reason to feel motivated and get in shape.
In the new year I’m going to lose x amount of weight and finally feel like my best self.
It’s not just with exercise either.
You might use the new year to reset all of your goals, whether it’s work-related or personal development.
I know I used to set goals at the end of each year religiously. And to be honest, it was an exercise I looked forward to doing. I would first identify what I wanted to achieve for the year then reverse engineer each goal into quarterly, weekly and daily actions. I had dorky spreadsheets, one-page plans, ideal weeks. You name it. I did it.
However, as I reviewed my numbers each month, I became increasingly obsessed with achieving goals. And when I didn’t hit my targets, I would get down on myself.
Still, it’s true, setting goals for the new year can be a powerful exercise and a comforting one at that. But the problem with this mentality is that we tend to hide behind our intentions for the future instead of taking action immediately. Let’s face it. It’s much easier to plan what you want to achieve than doing uncomfortable things each day to get there.
It doesn’t matter if it’s Monday, Tuesday, Sunday, 2016, 2020, or 2009. You can make a difference in your life today, right now. Not tomorrow.
Forget about a new years resolution. What you need is a now resolution. How do you achieve that? Simple, take a pen and paper and ask yourself this one question;
What can I do and enjoy today to improve my life?
This is a critical question that deserves further analysis. The question implies taking action on something that’s important or something that you enjoy today.
That could mean writing an important email that you’ve been procrastinating with, going to the park with your children or doing yoga for 30 minutes. It’s not about planning for the future. Planning in many cases is guessing, as we ultimately don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.
What we can control however is what we do today. The doing part is the input. Not the output. We can’t control how our boss interprets our email, or how we feel after a yoga session. We can only control the act of performing the task. This also happens to be the harder part. For example, writing this post is me doing the work. Planning to write this post is just that, planning.
New years resolutions are hyper-focused on outputs. What do I want to get out of life this year? What is the result that I want? The risk with this mindset is the effect it has on your expectations. When you’re output focused, you always want more. By the time you’ve reached one goal, you’ve already set another five, thus ever increasing your expectation gap. And like I mentioned earlier, focusing on outputs can feel productive when they aren’t.
Conversely, if you’re input focused, you’re only interested in the return on investment on what you do now. Your internal dialogue changes from, “what do I want to get out of life?” to “what am I going to do today to improve my life?”.
Here are some actionable strategies to help you forget about new years resolutions and instead, thinking about a now resolution:
- Start your day by writing down the most important things you can do today.
- Block out times in your calendar to take action.
- Before you go to sleep, journal about what went well for the day and what are some potential opportunities.
When setting your intention for the day, try not to take on too many activities, as you want to leave yourself a buffer for things that come up that you can’t control. The last thing you want is to beat yourself up because you had to look after a sick family member suddenly.
A great tool to help you focus on today is The Five Minute Journal. The creators have done an excellent job of identifying the essentials of each day.
So, are you ready to forget about your new year’s resolution?
I think I’ve finished my pep talk. Now it’s on you to implement this in your life. Start by writing down what you want to do today. What are three actions that will move things to improve your life? Review them, then do it again tomorrow. One foot in front of the other.
Oh, and don’t forget to smell the roses along the way. After all, you don’t know if tomorrow will ever come.