With the new year approaching come new years resolutions. It’s tradition to take on the new year with aspirations of improvement. From health and exercise, to hobbies, finances, jobs, vacations, etc., people make plans to develop new habits and change their lifestyle. The new year represents a time for people to form half-hearted plans to radically change their lives.
The problem with new years resolutions is they are pinned to an arbitrary date. Sure, the date is significant as it starts the new calendar year. But other than that, what does it have with your lifestyle and habits? Nothing really. That’s why so many people find themselves back to their old ways by February.Unfortunately many new years resolutions are short lived and often produce little to no results. I know because just like everyone else, I’ve set New Years resolutions only to let them fizzle away. To those who have set new years resolutions and stuck with them, congrats to you! You are in the minority, and your efforts should be applauded.
Now I don’t mean to come down hard on New Years resolutions. At the very least, they’re better than doing nothing to try to improve yourself. But there’s a much better way to work on your self improvement, if that’s what you want.
Rather than setting New Years resolutions, I think it’s much more important to set both long term and short term goals anchored by your vision. Your vision is the anchor here, not January 1st.
Step one is develop a vision. Your vision is just as it sounds, literally. It’s your vision for how you want your life to be. From work/life balance, to family, finances, hobbies, lifestyle, travel, etc., you should visualize as specific as possible what you want your life to look like. Some questions you can ask yourself inlcude:
- How much time do I was to spend working?
- How much time do I was to spend with family?
- How much income will I need to live the life I want?
- What ways do I want to spend my free time?
- What things are important to me that I would like to spend more energy doing?
These are all questions that will help you determine your vision. From there, you can create some goals that will drive you to that vision. For example, if you want to spend 3 months per year vacationing with your family, completely unplugged from work, then you need to identify some goals that will get you to that point. You might find that you need to earn $10,000 per month in income for 9 months per year, so that you can afford that lifestyle. Great! Now we’re making real progress here!
You can see how this anchor is much stronger than an arbitrary calendar date. If you have emotions and a dream tied to your daily tasks, then you are more likely to stick with those and actually realize results.
Once you have your vision crafted, it’s time to identify some goals. Having long term goals are great. They give you something to strive towards, something to work for and look forward to. Short term goals are just as important because they are the stepping stones to your long term goals. You can’t set and forget a long term goal, and expect to achieve it “one day”. Rather, break that long term goal into smaller attainable actions. I like to start with a decade out and identify some goals there, then I break those goals into annual goals, then then the annual goal into weekly steps. This approach takes that large goal and breaks it into small attainable actions.
When you take this path towards goal setting versus the new years resolution, it’s easy to see why you have a better chance of actually sticking with a plan and realizing improvement, day after day, week after week, year after year.
It’s okay to change your goals as you go. After-all, you won’t be the same person in a year as you are today, especially when you are on an upward path of self improvement. But don’t let some arbitrary calendar date limit you from starting or changing your path. Don’t wait unitl January 1st, or when you have “more time”, or the dreaded “some day”. Start now. There’s no better time.
Give some thought to you vision. Build some goals around that vision, and start taking action. Soon enough, you’ll look back at your journey to realize how far you’ve come.