I’ve chatted with multiple people lately about how much I love the holiday season. ‘Consumerist-frenzy’ aside, there is this sweet sweeping harmony of everyone making the honest time and effort – pulling our heads out of our collective, self-absorbed asses as it were – to really take pause and focus on what’s important. There are those sweet moments amidst all the apparent chaos, where people en masse turn to: good food, making fond memories, exuding dignity and respect, and doubling over in laughter with family (chosen and/or biological).
I especially relish those few sweet days between Dec 26th and Jan 1. It is the one coveted week, out of 52, where the majority of the people I know will be vibing on the same wavelength which I now seem to call home; the one unspoken week devoted to checking-in, reflecting, crafting goals, and declaring those ever-earnest “New Year’s Resolutions”. (Some argue that this trickles in to the first week or so of January too, before the tides of time sweep the crowd away again for another 360-ish days.) Marvelous.
But there’s a sting that comes along with this sweet honey. I feel like most people have known, at one point or other, what it’s like to look at the “New Year’s Resolution” list when March rolls around, and feeling any of:
– “oh, crap – I suck”
– “oh, well – there’s always next year”
– (fill in your usual response here)
Seems like New Year’s Resolutions are made to be broken. Lofty lists & motivation are clearly not enough. (Actually, motivation isn’t the answer – see BJ Fogg‘s work).
So, try something different. As 2012 draws to a close, draw out your big picture as that foundation, the tether. Craft a vision and/or mission – your overarching strategy. Then jump in to the nitty-gritty.
big picture – New Year’s Intentions
> Point your compass: start with why (Simon Sinek).
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
Same goes for self-persuasion. Sometimes the fine-grain struggles can be overwhelming. Re-framing an immediate ‘what’ (e.g. 10-page report to the board tomorrow) and anchoring it to a bigger ‘why’ (e.g. data-driven sustainable decision-making → impact clean water project on the ground → safe drinking water for a community → lives saved) reminds us exactly why we’re doing what we’re doing.
> Choose ‘areas of focus’ instead of goals (Peter Bregman).
In the heat of “achieving the goal”, we can sometimes we get sucked in and lose sight of that bigger ‘why’ behind it all. Downsides? Temptations to take shortcuts (sometimes unintentional!), or being blind to the fact that our lives may call for the ‘what’ to shift. Then, even when we get to the end goal, something feels off — not the best feeling to remember going forward to future goals.
Instead, having distinct areas of focus (e.g. physical and mental health; strong family relationships; steady income) allows a directional clarity while leaving the exact ‘how’ to best fit your situational mold (e.g. run 1 mile, 3 times per week or park farther and walk the last 3 blocks to and from work every day).
> Figure out how you want to feel rather than what you want to do (Danielle LaPorte).
That dream vacation to Phuket for a week? That might actually boil down to a yearning to discover a new, relaxing place where you can unplug, recharge, and spend some quality time with someone special. If those are all the must-haves, then a well-crafted staycation or trip to an island closer to home could hit on those very same things, no? Take that step back to clarify what you’re striving for on the inside, before starting to map out & negotiate the intricate logistics of a single goal.
action plan – Intentions to Reality
Once you have the strategy, the overall direction in place – that’s when you light the fire to ignite “The 2013 Project”.
> Make those lists.
> Wrap them into project plans; schedule things.
> Find methods that keep you accountable.
> Follow through.
> Celebrate as you see fit.
Now you have strong goals (tethered to intentions) that you can chase with fervor – enjoying every step of the pathways there. Powerful.
Also, get started today. There are still 2 full perfectly good weeks left in 2012 – take full advantage! Kick-start your new year right by setting those habits now. Trust me, it feels great.
Humbly, ~ H
The big dots of the post
• Make your own start date. “December 16” looks just as good as “January 1”
• Focus less on achieving the final outcome, more on accomplishing throughout the total journey.
• Live in your heart and mind first; live in your plans and calendars thereafter.
• Your goals; your way. Find the methods that work for you (good old trial and error does the trick).
• The glass is half full (e.g. stop working from a deficit model). Celebrate what you do, rather than where you’ve fallen short.
What will you do in the next 14 days to set a strong foundation to rock the new year the way you want to?
– Lululemon Vision & Goal Setting