Leave it to the renowned astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, to put the transition from one year to the next into perspective!
But for someone like me who went to a party, despite not feeling 100%, and made sure to partake in traditional southern “good luck” fare for New Year’s Day, his tweet was a bit sobering. And even though I chuckled, reading those words made me feel a bit like a popped balloon.
Yes, it may be true that January 1 isn’t anymore significant than any other day on the calendar. But tell that to the billions of people who, like me, mark the transition with New Year’s Eve celebrations and New Year’s Day traditions.
Also, tell that to the almost 41% of Americans who declare resolutions when this time of year rolls around.
For them (for us), January is a pretty big deal. It represents a chance for a fresh start.
But here’s what I love about Dr. Tyson’s New Year’s Day tweet: It reminds us that, in effect, every day gives us a chance to start anew.
When you adopt the mindset that “fresh starts” can happen everyday, you take a little pressure off the month of January. Instead, you redirect that focus and energy onto the process you are using to make your resolutions and goals real.
Don’t poo-poo resolutions
Confession: I use to be one of those people that eschewed resolutions, opting instead to use the word “goals.” The latter seemed more concrete and a more appropriate way to describe the transformations I wanted to see unfold in my life.
Perhaps you’ve done likewise.
As a lover of words and the power they possess, here’s what I have come to realize and embrace:
You can change the word, but that doesn’t alter the unbridled enthusiasm you have for how your life will be changed, for the better, by whatever follows the word.
Meaning: Whether you want to lose weight, get out of debt, have a healthier lifestyle, have better relationships, find a new job, start a business, save more, fall in love, or (fill in the blank), you want what you want because of how you believe these things will enrich your life.
So, the real problem isn’t whether you choose to use “resolutions” or “goals” to describe the transformation you wish to see unfold in your life.
The problem is that the benefits of setting New Year’s Resolutions and goals (e.g., inherent self-reflection; clarity about direction; opportunity to work on your life’s vision) get overshadowed by what I describe as the January-effect.
This happens when you mistake having a list of resolutions and goals for having a game-plan that supports you as you work on those resolutions and goals.
When you emphasize the list over the plan and process, you tend to put pressure on the wrong part of the equation that you’re using to make your life better.
Put the pressure where it belongs
Therefore, rather than poo-pooing the practice of making resolutions, redirect where you’re placing the pressure.
To help in that regard, here are four (4) simple tweaks to make. Not only will these get you started, but they will also carry you throughout the year so that you can have a “fresh start” daily. And in the process, they will help get more from your resolutions and goals!
Resolutions and goals aren’t just about the future
I wrote about this last year, but I believe it bears repeating. While resolutions and goals may reflect what you want in the future, they are less about that future and more about the actions you need to take today…and everyday thereafter.
You don’t have just one vision…really
Yes, your resolutions and goals represent the vision you have of the life you want. But, it’s important to remember that they are a subset of your larger vision. Lose sight of this and you may end up expending a lot of focus and energy on the wrong things, at the wrong time and in the wrong way. Which all adds up to a less efficient use of resources, in all forms.
View the practice of daily “fresh starts” as a lifestyle approach
Borrowing from the food and exercise space, there’s a huge difference between the quick, temporary fix of a diet and making a sustainable commitment to a healthier lifestyle. It’s the one-time vs. over and over and over again tradeoff.
Applying this mindset to your resolutions and goals reminds you that January isn’t the only time of year when you can start over. (Especially when you consider that people and circumstances change in stages.) This approach will prove helpful when you start to lose steam and need to replenish your energy and momentum.
Have a system for checking-in with yourself
The only way to stay engaged and to make progress is to check your progress — where you are vs. where you thought you’d be.
One of the big reasons most people fail at keeping their resolutions and achieving their goals is because they wait too long to track their progress and results – presuming they track at all. If you wait until the end of the year to see how you’re doing, you leave little room to pivot when necessary. That’s why I suggest you check-in with yourself, regularly. Weekly is ideal.
So, there you have it!
My suggestions on how to get more from your resolutions so that you improve your chances of fulfilling them. My suggestions on how to experience more joy in the process of achieving your goals. My suggestions on how not to succumb to the January-effect and, instead, be successful with keeping your resolutions and achieving your goals.
The message behind Dr. Tyson’s New Year’s Day tweet is spot-on; January 1 is not the only time you can start fresh. It can happen daily and the simple tweaks I’ve shared above can ensure they do. So, I hope you’ll integrate the tweaks that resonate with you. May they contribute to you having a happy, healthy and magical year ahead.
And, may 2017 come with more ups than downs and exceed your grandest expectations. Happy New Year!
p.s. Speaking of resolutions and goals, you know money plays a big role, right? Book your Financial Analysis Session to ensure you’re creating a financial game-plan that supports what’s on your to-do, to-have and to-be list!
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