Whilst we are free to make small and big resolutions any time of the year – or day, for that matter – The New Year is very much seen as THE time to make a change or few in one’s life. Just look at the amount of people you see at the gym during the first two weeks of January or alternatively, how pubs and bars seem emptier, especially mid week.
The issue with resolutions is not the resolutions themselves – that is often the easy part. The real difficulty is how to stick with them after the initial days or weeks when the first enthusiasm and heightened sense of self-discipline have started to wane. Here are few ideas on how to get through the difficult patches when all you want to do is not to stick with your ideas.
First one is the favourite of every life- and career coach (and a true fact too): If you have a big goal to attain, break it into several smaller ones. Of course you do not want to lose the sight of the end goal but rather than start feeling overwhelmed by it, approach it in smaller chunks. Just keep thinking how many rivers make an ocean and trust that with several small goals the big one will come, in due time. And if at some point you veer off the course, remember it is just temporary: One lost battle does not mean you are losing the war either so get back on track as soon as you can and carry on.
Use old school squared paper and pen!
A start up magazine I bought for my latest flight had a tip that apparently originates from the comic Jerry Seinfield: using a piece of squared paper (placed somewhere where you can see it easily and every day) and a pen to track your daily progress in regards to whatever it is you want to achieve. Be it about meditating every day or not drinking for a month, the daily cross on the paper releases the dopamin in the brain as you gain a sense of satisfaction from tracking your progress in a visual way. This can also help you to get through those moments of “I will skip it just today…” as you do not want to interrupt the flow of the Xs on your square paper. A gap in a row might be just the thing to boost your willpower – and help you to get one step closer to your goal.
Use a planner, as fancy as you want!
I am one of those people who loves lists, mind maps, journals and coloured pens. Which is all fine and well but to truly make progress you need some kind of a plan and a follow up system too. Otherwise it is very easy to get side-tracked by the daily grind whilst certain items on your to-do list keep on being pushed to a “better time” and goals made become more and more elusive.
Last year I used a bullet journal that worked pretty good – but not good enough for me not wanting to try something else for 2018. There are several ready-made planners out there and I settled to a UK designed one that lays out a theme for every month, helps you to classify stuff you want to do from urgent and essential to nice-to ones, and offers space for reflection before and after each month, with already laid out questions! A perfect solution for those inevitable moments when motivation is low and the last thing you feel like doing is to think at all. I got the same planner for my flatmate, in the name of peer support and well, keeping each other going.
EDIT. I have gotten a lot of questions about what this planner is. It is called Trigg Life Mapper. This is not a commercial collaboration, after few days of researching I settled to ordering this one and so far I like the look of it. The pictures of this post are from Trigg Life Mapper.
It is of however important to remember that life should not be only about performance and accomplishments. Plenty of scientific studies have proven that for the wellbeing of the brain and body alike it is important we spend time each day to rest and be still, without any pressure to achieve anything. It is good from time to time to also allow ourselves to get bored as boredom has been proven to feed creativity in adults and children alike.
Our New Year resolutions should not however become an obsession that dictates everything we do during the day. Not everything can be controlled and a gap in the row of Xs on a square paper is not the end of the world. The real strength, one that we all do have in ourselves, is to face difficult moments as they are. It is ok to get annoyed and sad but equally important take on board any lessons to be learned and to move one. There are usually many ways to reach our goals and adjusting the plan on the way is entirely possible.
What type of methods do use when planning your goals and how to achieve them? Leave a comment below!