It’s that mentally exhausting time of year when everyone is reminding you of all those things you need to accomplish in the new year.
Declutter. Lose weight. Get Organized. Start exercising. Set goals. Make resolutions.
I’m tired just thinking of it all. Nevermind that I’m still trying to recover from the holidays and get the house back in order.
There have been years when I’ve made resolutions, but only because they are a cultural tradition. I can’t even remember what they were, so I didn’t keep any.
So why does this custom continue? Considering 80% of resolutions fail within two weeks, it seems a little crazy that we keep this tradition alive.
But. . . . . . I love the idea of a new start.
A blank slate.
But what good does it do us, if in two weeks we believe we’re a big, fat, disorganized, hoarding failure? We want to achieve results, yet our life reverts externalto what it was before we decided to get out act together.
Let’s stop this madness, and look deeply at why we do the things we do and make adjustments to achieve the success we desire.
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In What Areas of Life Do You Want to Achto understand myself and my family betterieve Results? And Why?
What are you looking to change? It may be beneficial to take some time to contemplate the past year or even longer.
We’re often so negative towards ourselves and excitedassume that change is impossible, but is it? So before you even open yourself up to the negative thoughts, think about what you would like to change.
The sky is the limit, but only add those things that you care about. We’re not trying to overwhelm ourselves, but are trying to create a list that is within our realm of control.
As you’re making this list, let’s note why you want to change. Don’t put down that you want to lose weight just because you think you “should,” only put it down if you have a real desire to make a change.
Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me. ~Carol Burnett
A change will only come if you want it, no one can do it for you. It would be nice if we had a fairy godmother to do the work, but it isn’t possible. So be honest with yourself and create this list from a place of self-knowledge.
What Makes You Tick?
This may seem like an odd question, but the older I get, the more I see how our personality affects every area of our lives.
I admit, I’m a bit of a personality test junkie, but I do believe it has helped me to better understand myself and my family.
My first ever personality test was the Myers-Briggs that I took back in Jr. High. I tested as an INTJ for years, only later as a homeschooling mom did I come out as an INTP.
I believe one of the most critical personality traits to be aware of for yourself is whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. This plays a huge role in what activities you enjoy and your level of outside commitments.
So why the change in my Myers-Briggs? I used to think it was just being a homeschool mom of six, but I think I’ve finally found the real answer.
The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin has been a huge help to my understanding of why we do or don’t do, the things we do. As you embark on setting yourself up for a successful year, this is a book you should read.
My favorite personality tests:
- The Four Tendencies
- The Four Temperaments
Remember, personalities aren’t good or bad, they just are. Once you know yourself, it wiltol be easier to create habits and systems to achieve results.
Analyze Your Habits
We usually think of habits as either good or bad, but habits are what make our world go round and rarely are an either/or prospect. Some habits move us closer to our goals, while others slow our progress.
If you stop at Starbucks every week before co-op it’s going to slow your progress to save money and lose weight.
If you are in the habit of saying yes to every request of your time, it’s going to impede your ability to have a slower, more intentional day.
Make a list of the habits that immediately come to mind which have been difficult to change and are not helping you achieve your goals. Also, brainstorm those beneficial habits that make life easier and more productive.
Why the difference?
Let’s compare those habits and see why some work for you and some don’t. I know one habit I need to cultivate in order to have happier mornings: start with an empty dishwasher.
Seems simple enough and I’m so happy when it happens, yet it’s difficult to have on a consistent basis. Why?
I think the biggest impediment is that “shoulds” rarely motivate me. That’s a personality trait that I need to take into consideration.
Implement Thoughtful Goals to Achieve Results
If we want to achieve results, we have to implement a plan of action to achieve reach our goals. Simply saying we want to do something isn’t enough, well, it might be for some people but not me.
We need to clearly state our goals and define what steps we are going to take to make it happen.
We also need to have thoughtful goals and steps to follow along out path. So what should we do first?
1 | Make your goals specific
Your goal can’t be to simply save money, you need to get specific. Instead, make your goal be to save an extra $100 a month. But even that isn’t enough. HOW are you going to add an additional $100 a month.
2 | Make your goals meaningful
Here’s your why. Why do you want to save an extra $100 a month? To build an emergency fund, to pay for Christmas in cash, or maybe to help fund a family vacation, whatever the reason, you need to have one. If not, the incentive to meet your goal won’t be there, and you’re likely to miss the mark.
3 | Make goals that are achievable
Perhaps you would like to save an extra $100 a month, but when you sit down to review your budget, that seems a little too high.
Don’t set a goal so high you can never achieve it, instead set a goal that is reasonable, but challenging, and gains momentum from the positive results.
4 | Set a time limit for your goals
Don’t leave your goals open-ended or you’ll forever put off progress waiting for a tomorrow that never comes.
Also, have you ever noticed that when you set a time and limit you cleaning or decluttering to a short burst of time, you get so much more done? If I sit and think about decluttering too much, it becomes overwhelming, and I never get started.
Goals are the same way. Strike while the iron is hot.
5 | Evaluate your progress
We can’t just ignore a goal and expect it to materialize all on its own. It just isn’t going to happen.
This is an area where you’ll need to decide how much evaluation and external accountability you’ll need.
Would it help to have a partner to check in with? Do you need an outside commitment to keep you in check? Are you an Upholder and don’t feel the need for outside accountability?
Whatever you need, make an appointment to check your progress as you advance towards your goal.
6 | Recalculate as needed
It would nice to decide to lose 10 pounds in a month and have it neatly divided equally among 30 days, but that isn’t likely to happen. As with all of life, things happen, and weentirelyneed to adjust. So if you know there is a birthday party coming up, you prepare. Take your food or enjoy the party and start fresh the next day.
This is similar to when we hit a traffic snag and our GPS needs to recalculate as we take an unfamiliar turn to avoid the gridlock. Adjusting your path doesn’t mean you failed. It means you are serious about reaching your goal.
The only way to fail is to give up and thrown in the towel.
Creating Your Plan of Action to Achieve Results
Now it’s time to develop a plan of action tailored to you. Everyone is different and will need different motivators and plans to reach their goals.
I also think it’s good to limit your focus to only two or three goals at a time, even taking into account the size of the goals. It would be pretty difficult to lose 100 pounds, save $10,000, and start a new career all at the same time.
This is where we need to be thoughtful and know our limits.
Let’s walk through an example. You’ve decided that saving an extra $100 a month is an achievable goal. So what do you do to make this happen?
If you get paid twice a month, the first step would be to transfer $50 a paycheck to a savings account. You also need to examine your budget to see where you could easily stop spending to make the $50 reduction seem effortless.
That’s a pretty straightforward example, but what if your goal is a little bigger?
I need to lose around 20 pounds. I’ve done it before and know what to do, just making myself do it is tough. The past year it has slowly crept on, and it’s time to get serious. So what is my plan?
- Weigh daily (yes, I’m well aware this goes against all the weight loss advice, but it is the daily accountability I need. When I don’t weigh daily, it creeps up as it has in the past year.)
- Make rules and keep them (I’m an all or nothing person who stinks at moderation, so I need bright-line rules. No snacking. No chips, No wine. Three meals a day, that’s it.)
- Set a goal and prize (I had thought of joining Weight Watchers for the external accountability but decided I would rather pay my husband for accountability. So I’m going to give him $40 cash a month to hide for me, and when I reach my goal, it’s my prize money.)
- Track my progress (I’m using the Happy Scale app to enter my daily weight so I will be motivated by seeing my progress.)
- Set a time frame (I’ve set a 4-month time frame, which is completely reasonable and I’ll be motivated to hit my goal sooner.)
Just writing that out made me feel more motivated!
Get specific with your steps to reach your goal; it makes a huge difference.
Finally, Achieve Results
I hope I have inspired you to look at yourself honestly and make the changes needed to reach your goals. It’s so easy to have some nebulous idea of what we would like to achieve, but that alone won’t make it happen.
One of my favorite nursery rhymes coveys this truth:
If wishes were horses
Beggars would ride:
If turnips were watches
I would wear one by my side.
And if if’s and an’s were pots and pans,
The tinker would never work!
What goals do you want to achieve and how do you plan to make it happen?