As we enter into a new year, a new decade, so many of us will use this as an opportunity to refocus and set new goals for ourselves. Personally, I am not a fan of waiting for the new year, or summer or whatever to make a change. The moment you resolve to make a change is the moment you should begin to take action. Nevertheless, the end of the year is always a reflective period and still a great time to map out routes for self-improvement. This comes with a persistent issue though: the “New-Year-New-Me” (NYNM) mindset. The main characteristic of NYNM is that of giving up prematurely.
We are all victims of NYNM. We set out our goals for the new year with such enthusiasm. Start working towards them with the determination of a hungry lioness, eager to feed her cubs. Then, after a couple weeks, we find ourselves back to square one with no hope of crossing those goals off our list. So frustrating, isn’t it?! No stress though, with the following tips, you will be able to shift your mindset away from NYNM and smash your 2020 goals!
We are taught to set goals that are SMART - specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. This sums up the whole idea of goal-setting and self-improvement. However, it can be a little ambiguous. How can we incorporate this into our lives? The framework below encompasses what it means to set SMART goals and how you can do it.
1. START SMALL AND BUILD
When you set out on making a change, it is important to lay a solid foundation. It is not reasonable to expect yourself to be a professional in one day or accomplish every single thing at once. It's okay to be a beginner. Choose one or two areas that are most important to you. Areas where a minor improvement will make a significant impact in your life [make your goals specific and relevant]. Start from the bottom and learn to do the simple things well. This actually allows you to see results quicker thus, supplying more motivation to push on and challenge yourself [make your goals attainable].
A simple, relevant example is improving your fitness for 2020. Do not buy a gym membership and expect yourself to go 5 times a week throughout the year. Instead, begin by going once a week (on your day off maybe) and do the basic, easy exercises. No need for all the complex movements we see on Instagram. Since you start easy, you will see success quick and feel great about it! Now you’ve got motivation, incorporate more advanced movements into your fitness repertoire and continue the climb towards your ultimate goal.
2. DO A LITTLE BIT REGULARLY
Here, we focus on building disciple and consistency. The BIGGEST enemy of progress for those New Year’s resolutions is consistency. We always find ourselves committed for the first two weeks or so, until life hits us with that right hook. Then we begin writing our “Book of Excuses” as to why we have abandoned those resolutions.
Alas, this does not need to be the case. Do a little bit regularly. What does this look like? Let’s say you want to read more. Set aside 15 to 30 minutes a day dedicated to reading only [make your goals time-based]. Do this continuously and you will begin to form the habit of reading daily. As you continue to do this, your reading abilities will improve such that you can do more in less time. At this point, even if you miss a day or two, it will be so easy to get back into it. This is a major key! Developing the ability to get back to working towards your goal(s) despite taking some time off.
From our fitness example above, being active once a week allows you to form the habit of exercising regularly. Once this is a part of your lifestyle, it only takes a small step to start going multiple times a week. Next, when you take a break for vacation or Christmas, it’ll be a breeze to get back into it after. You will already have the mindset required to consistently maintain a high level of discipline.
3. ENSURE ACTIONABLE ITEMS GO WITH YOUR GOALS
By nature, we need some sort of structure by which to fashion our lives. For instance, we go to school and take certain courses, over a number of years to get into the career we want. That’s just one of many examples of structure in our lives. The same applies here. We can create structures for ourselves pertaining to the goals we want to achieve. This will allow us to automatically be working towards our goals constantly, by taking the actions we set for ourselves in a routine like matter. How do we do this?
Firstly, let’s take a goal. Again, we go with improving your fitness in 2020. That line “I will exercise more in 2020” is just the first sentence for that specific goal. The following action items could go below it:
- I will go for a jog every Saturday morning
- I will eat out (junk food) 3 times a month or less
- I will buy more fruits at the grocery store to replace most sweets
- I will work on my mental fitness by reading for 30 minutes each day
These actions will provide you with clarity on what you need to do, so that three weeks after setting your goals you don’t have to think too much as to how you will continue to work towards them.
In addition, doing this will help you track your progress along the way [make your goals measurable]. This is super important in keeping yourself accountable for the maintenance of your resolutions. In April when you ask yourself “Have I stuck with my New Year’s resolutions?”, you can use those action items to answer the question and pinpoint where improvements can be made, if need be. For instance, “Have I eaten out more than three times this month?”. If you answer “Yes”, you know that your gains are being hindered by non-optimal nutrition. Now you know exactly what you need to do to get back on the Fit Train. How easy was that?!
There you go! Make use of this framework to help you set SMART targets for 2020 and never worry about being imprisoned by the NYNM mindset ever again!
Thanks for reading! You a real one!