Before we start making new year resolutions, should we take time to evaluate the current year. I remember whenever I was involved in a police operation, we would get together at the conclusion of the operation and talk about what went right, what went wrong and how could we improve on our processes and procedures going forward. This is also a practice carried out by businesses whether they are finishing a new marketing campaign or making changes to their brand, product/services range or promotional event.
Any business owner should be able to look back at their figures and determine exactly where the business stands with regards to profitability at any stage throughout the financial year. Sometimes it can be too late if we leave this till when the accountant sorts out our taxes at the end of each financial year. A lot can happen over a twelve month period.
The same applies to our private lives. We make new year resolutions with the greatest of intentions, some of us may even write out our goals or heaven forbid, share them with others. So why do only a very small percentage of us get to celebrate achieving those goals that we made at the start of the year? Life gets in the way, well that's how I see it. Life gets in the way or we waiver from our path and give up. We find it too hard to change those old habits. We get distracted and lose our focus. Like a Weka attracted to a shiney object, we go from one idea to another always believing that we have found something better to work on, but at the close of another year we find that we have made no real progress in any direction.
How can we make 2017 different?
First of all I would suggest that we need to take the time to evaluate the past year. What worked, what didn't work? What goals did we make that we didn't achieve and why? Hopefully by looking at our past we can learn from our mistakes.
Secondly, when we sit down and write out our goals, it's important to know and note why we wish to attain these goals. If we don't have a good enough reason or a motivator, then when the going gets tough it will be too easy to giveup and dismiss the goal as just another new years resolution made in jest or without too much thought.
For instance your goal may be to save $10,000, which is a great goal, however knowing why you wish to save the $10,000 provides you with a solid reason for sticking to the goal. Your "why" may be because you wish to visit your sister and her family living in another part of the world, or it may be because you wish to pay off your mortgage or start a business or start a fund towards your childs schooling. If you know your "why" you have straight away increased the likelihood of achieving your goal.
I know a lot of people make new year resolutions around weight loss. Here is a prime example of why knowing your "why" is important. Ask yourself why you want to lose the weight. Is it solely because you can't fit those pair of trousers you bought last year or is there a deeper reason such as wanting to be able to play backyard soccer with your kids or grandkids, or maybe even wanting to complete a marathon. Maybe you realise that your health is affected by your excess weight. Could wanting to be around in 10 or 20 years time for your family be a reason when you know that diseases such as diabetes or cancers tend to shorten our live spans dramatically.
Once we have written our goals down we need to plan how we will go about achieving them. Be realistic and remember that it takes time to create new habits so as a part of your planning exercise, think of strategies you can use if you find yourself deviating from the path.
If your goal is to save $10,000 over 12 months. Break that down into smaller goals such as saving $833 per month or $193 per week. This way you can keep track of your goal and will immediately know if you are deviating from your chosen path. The earlier you make corrections, the higher the chance of getting back on task. When you plan your goal it's important to put strategies into place for times when you may slip up. For instance you may have a holiday planned mid year, so adjust your savings plan early to cater for this added expense.
Another part of forward planning I find helpful when developing a new habit is what we can do a week or a day before that will make it easier for us to stick to our goal. For instance if your goal is to lose weight, then when you go shopping, only buy healthy food. Make sure that you have healthy snacks in the pantry or fridge rather than the type of food you know is not good for you. At the start of the week or weekend take an hour or two to prepare meals in advance for the week ahead. Take the time to make a salad or bake some chicken which you can utilize over the following days.
Personally I enjoy going for early morning walks so the night before I will prepare by having a water bottle ready plus the clothes I will wear on the walk. That way I really just need to get out of bed. The hard work of deciding what to wear or finding matching socks is already behind me.
I hope you have found this post helpful. As we approach the New Year I intend to follow up with further posts on this topic.
cheers for now.
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