How To Achieve New Year’s Goals

How To Achieve New Year’s Goals
How To Achieve New Year’s Goals

A new year is like a blank slate, and you can fill it with whatever you want!

-Leo Babauta

Unfortunately, most people make a bunch of resolutions and then let them fizzle out by the end of the first month or so. To keep this from happening, choose to follow a few of these guidelines.

Monthly challenges with weekly focuses. The problem with a year-long resolution is almost no one can really stay focused for an entire year. But if you break it into monthly challenges, then it’s much more doable. For example, if you want to get into shape, do a January challenge to go for a walk every day, or run three days a week. Even better: break the month-long challenge into weekly focuses … so you just have to run for three days this week. Then another focus the next week, etc. Once the first month is over, take what you learned and use that to shape your next month’s challenge.
Make someone else benefit from your success. If you succeed at your monthly challenge, then a friend gets to have something nice happen to him or her. This is really nice, because you will be motivated to make someone else happy.

Start with mindfulness training. I’ve found mindfulness to be the foundational habit, because it gives you some key tools for forming all other habits. If you do mindfulness training for a month or more, you’ll have the skills you need to not fail at other habits you want to create for the rest of the year. For example, you’ll be able to see your urges and rationalizations, instead of being controlled by them. You’ll be able to mindfully put yourself in the space you want to focus on creating something, or for doing a workout. Use an online spreadsheet to keep track of how you’re doing each day or week, and set consequences (see above) if you fail or succeed.

Make small changes. Instead of trying to change everything at once, and making drastic changes … try to make smaller ones that will gradually end up as big changes over the course of a year. So instead of trying to work out for an hour a day, try just a few minutes each day. This allows you to fit the new habit into your life easily, and as you gradually increase the changes one small step at a time, your mind won’t rebel against the change because it’s not too far outside your comfort zone. If you want to eat better, add one vegetable to your meal each week, instead of going on a drastic diet.

Be curious. Instead of failing and then thinking, “I suck,” don’t think of your changes as “fail” or “succeed.” Instead, think of it as a learning process, and no matter how you do, you’re learning something. Each failure is just another data point, another way to find out what works. This is a flexible mindset of curiosity, of wanting to find out, rather than thinking you have all the answers. This allows you to deal with any obstacles or changes that come up, because you’re not fixed on one outcome, but instead are curious about how things work and what might be possible.
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