With the new year just around the corner, it’s got me thinking, “what will I achieve next year?”. But the thought of setting resolutions again fills me with doubt. Why?
Well, I learnt two things in 2018… Me and rigid deadlines aren’t meant to be, and I get bored of the same goal crazy quick.
As much as I wanted to be a planner and reach my goals by specific dates – it just doesn’t work out that way.
You might think that’s a little ironic for someone who developed and sells a 90-day goal planner… But hear me out.
I’ve learnt so much about setting goals since I first released the OG 90-day goal planner (which really does work for some people), but I know there are a lot of you out there who are like me, where 90 days is too long of a stretch. You get bored as everything becomes automatic, or you miss a day and feel like you’ve stuffed your progress.
Setting goals is a very personal and unique journey for everyone. It was naive of me to think that there was only one way to achieve your goal.
2019 is going to be a lot different, as well as more personalised, and less anal. (I’m a Type A perfectionist who plans everything within an inch of it’s life – so this is a biggy!)
Here’s what I’m doing instead of setting resolutions again:
- Not setting a resolution with a deadline
- Listing everything I want to achieve
- Choosing a focus word
- Prioritising (easy and quick trumps long and boring)
- Not focussing on my weaknesses, but my strengths
- Taking full responsibility for my life
- Making everything incredibly easy
1. Not Setting Resolutions With a Deadline
Yes, every man and his dog with an article on goal setting says goals aren’t goals without deadlines. I know.
But it’s actually kind of hard to know when you’ll achieve your goal, and what’s a realistic timeframe – especially if you’re attempting something entirely new!
If you wanted to weigh 20 kgs lighter – how do you know how long that’d take you? Unless you’re familiar with your body’s weight loss tendencies, you set a deadline that you’d be happy with.
And yes, your goal does need to be measurable (otherwise how will you know how far you’ve come and how far you’ve got left to go?), but how you measure it is completely up to you.
Personally, I go for the daily deadline.
I have a rather loose goal of “being healthy”. (Yes I know I bang on about having a clear cut goal too, but keep reading!!).
“Being healthy” right now for me means to:
- Choose the healthiest option
- Eat meat and veges only (no processed artificial stuff and especially NO SUGAR)
- Be active every day
- Fast intermittently (16 hours of no eating, 8 hour block to eat)
- Aim to eat only once or twice a day
So where does a deadline come into that? I wondered the same thing. But I realised, my deadline is in fact a daily one.
I stop eating at 6.30 pm. Then I start eating at 10.30 am. And I buy prepackaged paleo meals in bulk from Primal Kitchen, so my 1-2 meals are healthy. At 7pm I ask the dog “have you got your shoes on?” and we go for a walk.
If I achieve those each day, then I’ve succeeded in “being healthy” that day.
Ever since starting this daily approach, I’ve aced it every single day. This is unheard of for me, seriously. I usually lose my steam within the first week and revert back to my old ways.
Goals can be more loose if that’s your style.
So have a think about your deadlines and see how you can shift them to suit you.
The 90-Day Goal Planner is a great way to track your daily progress! You don’t need to focus on having a deadline, but rather a daily focus on your goals & habits for 90 days.
2. List Everything You Want to Achieve
I can never choose just one thing to do (wow, how many of my own rules am I breaking??), so I list everything I want to achieve within the next year.
So far that looks like:
- Be 100% debt free
- Earn a Certificate in Small Business
- Earn a Diploma in Digital Marketing
- Travel to the USA and see those iconic houses in San Fran
- Have $20k+ in savings
- Be in a position to look at buying a house
I’m sure that list will chop and change over time, but for now – that’s where I’m focussing my energy.
So write yourself a list of everything you’d love to achieve, whether it’s next year or whenever. Pop it down.
Now, list them from easiest to most difficult. What counts as easy might be different for you. My “wannados” are listed in order, easiest to hardest above.
Why do you list them in that order? Because that’s the order you’re going to tackle them in!
When you have those moments of feeling a little lost in life, come back to your list. Give yourself direction again. If it doesn’t excite you, make a new list!
3. Choose a Focus Word
In 2018 I got so hung up on rules, should dos, and what other people wanted me to do.
That very quickly turned into burnout and resentment. And to top it off, I felt like a massive hypocrite (I helped people achieve their goals – so why did I struggle so much with my own?!).
I recently started following Michelle Yandle’s advice around empowered eating and gentle nutrition.
She explains how rigid rules aren’t the way forward if you’re wanting to be healthy long term. You achieve long term health by nourishing your body with the right foods (and keeping your favourites just because they make you feel good).
When it came to eating vegetables I didn’t like (a.k.a. parsnips) or cringing at the thought of exercising daily – I remembered what Michelle said. It made me realise I’m doing these things to nourish my body, not because I hate how it looks!
And by nourishing my body, I’ll achieve those health goals of mine, but naturally & without the added stress.
Nourish. That’s my focus word for 2019!
4. Focus On Strengths, Not Weaknesses
More often than not, goals are set based on weaknesses.
Perhaps it’s wanting to be healthier as you typically eat junk and don’t move or day. Or maybe you’re shy and want to be more confident in yourself.
But by doing that, you give the weakness your attention. And inadvertently make the whole goal setting process a lot harder on yourself as it’s trickier to work on a weakness, rather than develop a strength.
Here’s the thing – you’re already good at something – many things!
So why not start a goal that aims to improve that skill or talent you already have? It’s the best feeling being even better at it, and your confidence sky rockets!
For example, I used to draw a lot. I was good at it, but moving into adulthood quickly zapped creativity and motivation – which meant I hadn’t felt like drawing in the last 5 or so years.
I did try to draw for sure, but I hated everything I drew because it wasn’t good anymore. (Remember, I’m an anal Type A perfectionist, so not being good at something is a real downer)
Eventually I realised that I need to nurture that skill in order to be truly happy with it again. So my sister and I started up an Art Challenge recently.
There are no rules and we just make it up as we go, but the point is to create SOMETHING every day. Whether it’s a completed art work or not doesn’t matter.
It’s all about getting back into the swing of things and developing my skill again.
What are you good at already? Have a think.
5. Take Full Responsibility
Locus of Control is one of my favourite concepts in psychology. There are two parts/types of beliefs; internal locus of control and external locus of control.
Internal = “I am responsible for this happening”
External = “Someone/something else is responsible for this happening”
Here’s an example of what that looks like…
Melanie often arrives to work late, “Oh my god, the traffic is absolutely ridiculous – especially with the roadworks slowing things down!”. Melanie lives 30 minutes away from work.
Whereas Danielle always arrives early, with plenty of time up her sleeves. And she lives 1 hour away from work.
Later that day, Melanie and Danielle decide to go out for lunch together. They decide to try the new wholefood cafe down the road.
Melanie sees the hefty price tags and thinks, “ugh! I can’t afford this!”. Danielle feels the same, but words it as, “I’m choosing to shop somewhere where I get more for my money”.
In both examples, Melanie gives her personal power to external sources (traffic and food prices). But Danielle holds on to her power, she takes full responsibility of her choices.
If Melanie’s thought patterns feel similar to your own, practice rewording your thoughts.
“I am choosing to…”, “If I want a different outcome, I need to…”, “X happened because I…”
6. Make It Laughably Easy
When you’ve figured out where you’re headed – it’s time to start your new habit!
Think about this – what is the smallest daily action you could do to start making progress towards your goal? (Note: It has to take less than 2 minutes to complete.)
Say your goal was to eat healthier and save money by packing your own lunches… your new daily habit could be packing an apple everyday.
I mean, how easy is it to pack an apple each day? Ridiculously easy.
Packing that apple does several things:
- gets you planning ahead,
- starts the habit of packing something each day,
- and has you focussing on healthier snacks.
Once your new habit becomes automatic, you can start building upon it. After 7 days you could start to add other healthier snacks like nuts or veges.
Within a couple of weeks, you’d get to the point where it just makes sense to pack the rest of your lunch too.
The tips featured here are an excerpt from a new book I’m releasing in 2019. Sign up here to become a product tester once it’s ready and let me know what you think before it’s released to the masses!