For many people the start of a new year is a time to make bold new resolutions, big plans and to declare a ‘word for the year’ which reflects the positive changes they want to make in their lives. For others, the beginning of a new year is just like any other day that passes without fanfare, not unlike the others before it. Celebrating a new year can be difficult in situations where even though a new year has started, the old problems and issues from the preceding year still persist. Whether you choose to celebrate the new year or not, there is no denying that time is passing, and life is moving on. So, how will you make 2022 count?
New Year, Fresh Start?
With every new year, we all get a fresh start and a new set of 365 days to use as we will. In fact, many people are already thinking about the changes they want to make to improve their lives and the goals they want to pursue. People who are highly motivated usually express their intentions in resolutions, vision boards or carefully thought-out action plans. While people who are less motivated or are uncertain about their goals or future might be more reluctant to make any plans or set new intentions. Regardless of how you motivated you are, resolutions and plans do not sustain themselves.
As the days and weeks progress, motivation can fade very quickly, and even the best laid plans and resolutions might be forgotten in the cut and thrust of daily life. In fact, the results from one study suggest that “an enormous 77% of resolvers lost their resolve in under two weeks.
One possible reason why people fail to achieve their goals is offered by James Clear, (author of the bestselling book Atomic Habits,) who explained that “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Your goal is your desired outcome. Your system is the collection of daily habits that will get you there. This year, spend less time focusing on outcomes and more time focusing on the habits that precede the results.”
So how do you sustain your goals and avoid abandoned goals in 2022?
There is no fool proof way of ensuring that you stay true to your personal goals, plans or resolutions. The people who make resolutions to lose weight, save more, find that new job or start that new business or project, typically do so with the best of intentions and with a strong desire to do so. But like the earlier statistics suggest, somewhere between the first two weeks of the month to perhaps March, gym memberships are abandoned, and people begin to procrastinate or push back their goals to a later date. And before you know it, they lose their mojo and plans are shelved indefinitely.
Personally, I seize the opportunity of a new year to formulate new plans and establish goals for my personal and professional life. And while I don’t make resolutions, since 2007, I have chosen a word to guide my actions and approach towards the different aspects of my personal and professional life. This gives me an opportunity to clearly define the attitudes, actions, and behaviors I will engage in and that are consistent with my word. For example, my word for 2022 is FOCUS and my primary objective will be to eliminate or minimize anything that would undermine my efforts to achieve the financial, physical, spiritual, professional, and relational goals I’ve set. I’m also happy to share that over the years, this approach to tackling each new year and a few proven strategies, have helped me achieve continuous success in both my personal and professional lives.
Strategies to Tackle the New Year
If you are looking to set new intentions/ goals for 2022 and need help to stick with them, or are thinking about that you might do differently, here are 7 strategies that might help you make the new year count:
- Remember your why: At a time when people are sharing plans about how they want to improve their lives, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement and the hype. But before you set your goals or declare your intentions for the new year, think carefully about where you are at this stage of your life, what is important to you, the things that will bring meaning to your life or help you achieve purpose. Align your goals and actions to these things and ignore the noise.
- See habit change as identity change: Changing habits is a big part of making self-improvements. But what if you have been approaching habit change all wrong? According to James Clear, when most people think about the habits they want to build, they focus on outcomes they want to achieve. E.g., I want to lose weight. He suggests that a better approach is to build identity-based habits by focusing on what you want to become, not what you want to achieve. E.g. The goal is not to lose weight but to become a person who makes healthy food choices.
- Smart Small: Making a change of any kind can be hard. So rather than biting off more than you can chew, set yourself up for success by starting with small changes that can lead to large changes in behaviors overtime. In Atomic Habits, James Clear recommends that if you focus on getting 1% better every day, you will be 37% times better at the end of a year. So, if exercising more is one of your goals, what is one tiny change you can make and consistently maintain?
- Set realistic goals: A huge reason behind why people fail to act on or achieve their goals is that they were not SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timebound) or practical in the first place. Take the time to carefully think about what you want to achieve, the resources you have at your disposal and what you will need to support your success. Then do it.
- Anticipate the barriers: Acknowledge the fact that you are going to hit setbacks in your efforts to execute your plan or achieve your goals. So, spend some time identifying the things that are likely to stand in the way of you achieving your goals. Once you have identified the potential obstacle(s), devise a plan for dealing with them when they occur.
- Consider the cost: In a lot of instances, people give up on their goals and dreams because of fear, doubt, the sacrifice they will have to make or due to life events that aren’t convenient at that point in time. And often they do so without fully considering how making that choice/decision, or not taking a particular course of action might cost them in the future. Therefore, before you decide to act or not to act on a goal, consider what you might be losing, saying no to, or giving up if you don’t follow through. What will it cost you in the long run?
- Build in accountability: Having come up with a SMART goal or plan, ensure that you have something or someone to help you stick to your plan(s). You can build in accountability by sharing the goal or plan with your inner circle or someone who will check in with you periodically to help you stay on target and offer encouragement when you need it. Additionally, you can use apps such as your calendar or organizers to set affirmations or reminders for activities you need to complete or things you need to focus on.
Ready or not – 2022 is here and 2021 is gone. There is no changing the past, the mistakes, or the things that didn’t go as you hoped or planned. Celebrate the gains or progress you made last year- however small. You now have another year with new opportunities to create the future you want, build on the progress you’ve made, and move purposefully in the direction of your goals and dreams.
So, what will you do in 2022? How will you make this new year count?
Until next time, Remember, ItsALearningLife!