Or new year, same wonderful you with the opportunity to achieve whatever you choose in 2015?
And the great thing is that this opportunity doesn’t only come around once a year as the date changes from 31st Dec to 1st Jan, it exists for us in every moment of every day.
However, the festive season and the changing of the year creates a natural point at which we have some time off from work and our usual routines, we tend to reflect and contemplate the highs and lows of the year that has passed and we eat and drink ourselves silly to the point where we actually look forward to the tradition of a January detox.
So, even though we can set and act upon good intentions in every moment, why not use the momentum and positive energy of a new year to get clear about what you’d like to achieve over the course of the next 31,536,000 seconds and really make those moments count.
My view is that the most powerful, significant and sustainable changes are made up of hundreds or even thousands of small choices made in those millions of moments over the course of a year. It is those tiny choices which, having been regularly practiced over the course of your life to date, have developed into your habits, many of which are now so well engrained that you don’t even need to think before doing them, they just happen.
For the habits which are less desirable, the best way to break them down is in exactly the same way you built them up – little by little, practising every day. Gradually, their power over you will weaken, they can be replaced with new habits aligned to your aspirations and, in turn, it is these small changes which add up to make the big difference.
So, how to make sure that you’re not that person who starts January with an impressively long and aspirational list of resolutions and by February has fallen off the wagon and landed with a big bump of disappointment?
Here are my thoughts on how to create and move towards goals which will make 2015 a year to remember:
Get inspired and make it unique
Take some time out to think carefully about the areas of your life where you’d like better balance, alignment or a shift in order to feel fulfilled. Ensure that it’s something which is connected to your values and how you want your life to be, as opposed to what others/society may make you feel like you “should” do or be. Think about what it would feel like to achieve that change, understand what aspects of your goal really inspire you and capture it in some way – write it down, save an image, make a promise to do something you wouldn’t have done before. Reconnect with this image/feeling on a regular basis, I’d suggest monthly for an annual goal, to remind yourself of it’s importance, renew your focus and reinvigorate your determination to keep moving forwards.
Be honest with yourself and raise your awareness
Step 1 above was the fun bit, hopefully it made you feel excited and energised. Now the tricky bit where I recommend you think about what’s previously held you back, prevented you or worked against you achieving your goal. Try to identify the habits that don’t serve you or aren’t aligned to your priorities and values and challenge what lies behind those habits, how they came about and what are the triggers which drive these unconscious and unhelpful actions. Raising your awareness is a tough process and can leave you feeling exposed and a bit unravelled but, without this, you’ll identify a temporary fix which won’t hold up when you come under pressure.
Break it down
I’d love to invent the magic button which instantaneously and effortlessly transports us to wherever we want to be in life, but I haven’t quite nailed that one yet. Without the magic button, our goals can seem overwhelming, out of reach and it might feel easier to “downgrade” our aspirations than face the work required to get there. Breaking your goals down into small actions/changes is the way to give yourself the best chance of success, of replacing habits, at making the change sustainable and is much easier to get your head around.
Monitor and celebrate
Establish how you’re going to monitor your progress on a relatively regular basis – even if your goal is long-term, over the course of a year for example, I’d suggest breaking it down into small actions which can be monitored weekly. This will keep you attention on the small changes and will generate a sense of momentum. I’d also suggest setting some mini-goals en route to your main goal and agree in advance how you will celebrate and reward yourself for these as you achieve them.
Flip your thinking
For a variety of reasons we, as human beings, seem to have developed an amazing ability to place more attention and focus on the negative and the things we haven’t achieved or done well, than we do on the positive. If you expect that, once you’ve decided upon your goals, that you will have a clear and direct path to success then, unfortunately, I very much doubt that you’re going to get there. Life will always throw you curve balls and some of these will directly or indirectly interfere with the journey towards your goal. Accept that there will be weeks where you don’t meet your targets and, when this happens, acknowledge what you could have done differently, determine how you’re going to learn from that, refocus and move on. Encourage yourself to start placing more attention on the positives and successes than on the things that don’t quite work out as planned.
This is one which can really make a huge difference to your chances of success – it’s about not letting yourself off the hook and giving others permission to hold you accountable. You don’t need to share publicly but choose at least one trusted person to share your ambitions with – tell them that you’d like to update them on your progress, share the challenges, involve them in celebrating your success, ask them to remind you of why you’re doing this and get them to hold you to account for what you say you’re going to do.
It’s important to set yourself up for success by creating an environment around you which supports and promotes the actions that you want to take. If you live with other people, then make sure you let them know what you’re trying to do and discuss how they might be able to help. Also, if there are aspects of your journey that you think are going to be particularly challenging or you get stuck somewhere along the way, then consider what professional support you might be able to access to help you to keep moving forwards.
So, those are my humble pearls of wisdom for achieving whatever exciting and inspiring changes you desire in 2015 and beyond….and as part of my own strategy for holding myself accountable, here are the things that I would like to achieve over the course of the next 31,449,600 seconds.
My aspirations – the tangibles:
- To reach my target weight of 64kgs
- To practice yoga 3 times a week
- To be able to confidently do a headstand in class
- To run 3 times a week
- To do 30 mins of educational reading 3 times a week
- To mediate for 10 minutes 3 times a week
- To get an article published
- To engage with 6 new mind/body clients
- To identify 2 additional client ambassadors
- To become “competent” at ski-ing
My inspirations – the intangibles:
- To focus on quality, not quantity, in everything I do
- To go on a good date
- To be as kind and supportive to myself as I am to my clients
- To enjoy the moment
- To smile and laugh as often as possible and help others do the same
So, there it all is, quite a list and, yes, 3 appears to be the magic number. Sharing it publicly like this makes me feel a bit nervous and a bit vulnerable but a lot excited and motivated to make it happen.
What would you like 2015 to bring for you? And how are you going to make sure it happens?