New Year’s resolution? Why not start it today?

December 17, 2019

Haven’t we all been there? We made a plan to change something significantly. We are all excited and highly committed to it and then somehow the excitement fades away and the commitment is nowhere to be found! Researchers estimate that over 60% of adults in the Western hemisphere make New Year’s resolution but less than 10% actually successfully achieve them. 

How can that happen? Well, in coaching we typically look for actions that resonate well with the coachee: an action that is linked and honors the coachee’s values or life purpose and most and foremost, an action that in this very moment of the coachee’s life seems to be most helpful in reaching their goals and aspirations for their life.

Here is a simple step by step approach on how you can find an action of change that serves you best in living a fulfilled live.

1. Pick-Me-Up List

It is usually easier to keep to our goals and actions when we are happy, balanced and feeling strong. If you are one of these rare people who always has it together and is full of energy everyday: Congratulations, just skip this point! However, if you are like most of us and it sometimes feels a bit more difficult to get out of bed and put your motivation hat on, then try making a list of all the things that can pick you up and immediately have a positive effect on your mood, motivation and energy. This can be a simple thing such as listening to your favorite “feel-good” song or getting yourself a nice comforting cup of coffee/tea or it can be something which takes a little bit more effort such as going for a run or organizing a dinner with your best friends. Start writing this list – it is especially helpful if it has a large variety of activities on it – and keep it somewhere where you can always access it easily: for example next to your bed, on the refrigerator or on your phone.

When you honor your values your life feels balanced and meaningful, if you don’t, chances are that it might become energy draining and possibly even some kind of a struggle.

2. Define Your Values

What are your values? What makes you tick? What do you believe so deeply in that it is part of who you are? The purpose of defining and writing down one’s values is to ensure that all your important life decisions and activities are in line with your values. Because when you honor your values your life feels balanced and meaningful, if you don’t chances are that it might become energy draining and possibly even some kind of a struggle.

One way of finding your values is to ponder about the following questions and write down whatever comes to your mind: 

  • What has been an important experience in your life and what made it significant for you?
  • Imagine you are celebrating your 80th birthday with friends and family. What do you imagine they will say about you and how you have impacted their lives?

Next list 5 people from different parts of your life that are important to you and then write down the value or meaning they possibly see in your relationship with them. Repeat the same exercise about what you value in each of these relationships. Then look at all that you have written and pick four to five words or phrases that speak to you the most. If needed rephrase it so that you have 4-5 nouns as your values.  

3. Take a Deep Dive

Which of your values do you honor least at the moment? What is missing or lacking? Take some time to really get to the bottom of this. It might also be a good idea to talk to a friend or a coach about it. How would you like to honor that value in the future or right now? Why does that matter to you at the moment? What is it that you want to do about it? Take some time to brainstorm about this and list down whatever comes up. Then look at the list and pick out 1-2 things that you feel the strongest about. You will know that you have found something actionable which is also very relevant if that action really resonates with you, it is a bit of a stretch or even a little bit scary, and at the same time gives you some kind of pride or accomplishment to know that you are tackling this.

4. SMART Action 

As I am sure you know, like any good objective, an action needs to be SMART. Take some time to really getting into the specifics of what you want to achieve. So the general idea of “wanting to exercise more” could look something like this:

Specific: Starting tomorrow I will go running outdoors on a regular basis to become fitter and healthier.

Measureable: at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes and at the end of four months run a race

Achievable: starting with just 30 minutes gradually increasing the time and distance to 60 minutes or 10 km per run.

Realistic: If you haven’t run regularly before, you might not want to sign up for a marathon but possibly a 10k or half-marathon race might be a realistic goal.

Timely : Starting tomorrow for at least 4 months, possibly with a race date at the end of those 4 months.

Most objectives or actions that we set for ourselves are more powerful if we openly share them with someone, ideally someone who will hold us accountable to achieving the goal if we should somehow get off track - in a coaching session this will be your coach. In the above example finding a race and signing up for it right now would also ensure the accountability in a powerful way.

5. Roadblocks

Even if today you are really motivated to stick with this action that you have set up for yourself. What if something comes up that will hinder you from keep going? In order to be prepared for things that could get in your way, list possible roadblocks that you can already foresee now and how you could get around them. In the example above it could be things like: 

  • having to travel frequently for work: keep a clean pair of running shoes for using on the treadmill at a fitness center in a hotel
  • too much snow and ice on the roads: find a fitness center nearby where you can purchase single drop-ins to use their treadmill

Some roadblocks are really more mental than substantial and for those circumstances it helps to have someone – a confidant – that will help you be motivated through those times. And if for some reason you are feeling down and unmotivated at some point, make sure you have your  “Pull-Me-Up List” handy.