January 6, 2016

Keep Those New Year's Resolutions!

Keep Those New Year's Resolutions. Tips for making your new year's resolution list enjoyable, attainable, and effective.

If you're a little nerdy like me, you might get very excited about creating your list of New Year's Resolutions. For me it's a fairly detailed process that begins somewhere in the middle of December (because I'm just too excited to wait any longer!) with recaps of the year prior, vision boarding, inspiration hoarding, and finally several working drafts of the all-mighty resolution list. It can really be quite fun when you get into it!
The truth is, however, that I wasn't always such a Resolution nerd. In fact, I used to be quite the opposite. Years of failed lists tended to make me feel like the whole process was useless. It's a scheme made up by fitness and health guru's to make an extra buck. Resolutions just set yourself up for failure. Trying to limit or morph yourself is demeaning to the very essence of living life to the fullest. These are all things I used to tell myself. But it doesn't have to be that way!
Here are my tips for making your New Year's Resolutions enjoyable, attainable, and worth the effort:

1. Celebrate your successes!

You're going to have plenty of time to get into the nitty gritty of your goal's list. So don't get ahead of yourself! The VERY first thing you need to do is give yourself a big pat on the back. If you had a resolution list the year before you need to do a recap to celebrate the things you accomplished. Retype your goals list as an "I did it!" list. Even add extra things you are proud of that weren't necessarily on your list. If you didn't have a list last year that's ok too! Just take some time to reflect on things you accomplished the year before. When you are done I want you to prominently display this list in your main work area. All year long you can look at it and remember just how badass you are. This will give you an extra boost of confidence when you need it!

2. Get inspired and create a vision.

Resolutions should be things that feed your soul. They should make you feel good and accomplished on the inside. Resolutions that are aligned with your true happy self are just easier to stick to. So take some time now to reflect on the things that make you happy. For this I find Vision Boarding to be extremely important. You need to mentally get a clear picture of what your dream life looks like. This vision will keep you moving in the right direction throughout the year, even if the individual steps aren't always perfectly clear. And this isn't just some new age mumbo jumbo. Visualization practices such as vision boarding have been scientifically proven to produce results.
"Mental imagery impacts many cognitive processes in the brain: motor control, attention, perception, planning, and memory. So the brain is getting trained for actual performance during visualization. It’s been found that mental practices can enhance motivation, increase confidence and self-efficacy, improve motor performance, prime your brain for success, and increase states of flow – all relevant to achieving your best life!" - Psychology Today.
So have fun creating a vision board, and make sure you keep it somewhere you'll see it throughout the year.

3. Find the lead domino.

I was listening to a podcast with Tim Ferriss (Ep 49 20:25) a while back and he brought up this idea of "The Lead Domino" that absolutely blew my mind. It's a concept that completely recognizes our innate limitations as human beings, and yet gives us a tool to grow with that reality in mind. The truth is we can only give our focus, time, and energy to so much in life. If we make a resolutions list that tries to encapsulate EVERYTHING we are indeed setting ourselves up for failure, because we simply cannot do everything! This is where the lead domino comes in. First, make a rough list of things that go along with your vision board that you would like to accomplish this year. Now imagine this: every single thing you are dreaming of accomplishing this year is a singular domino. All of these dominos are lined up in a row. The thing with dominos is that you don't have to push over every single one, you just need to push over the lead domino. So which item on your list is the lead domino? Which resolution, if accomplished, will have the most effect on all the other dominos? Is there one resolution that at least touches on and affects several other items on your list? If you can find that one thing, that is your lead domino for the year -- that is your BIG GOAL NUMBER ONE.
If you are having a hard time sorting out whether things effect each other try this: write out each goal on a post it note, and then move them around where you think they relate to each other. If your post-it notes bunch around one thing that is your lead domino! It's important you do this exercise so that your resolutions list is actually attainable and effective. You can add some other items to your list as well, but make sure they are important and won't overwhelm you.

4. Break big resolutions into smaller goals.

Now it's time to get specific. You have your Resolutions list. Now you need to break those down into a bigger list of actionable goals. Really, at this point, you should be thinking of your Resolutions List as a Goals List. Resolutions, as well-intended as they may be, are usually pretty vague. Goals are specific.
Ok, so let's say one of your resolutions is to get a raise at work. Now HOW are you going to accomplish that? Come up with specific actions that are smaller and more focused. Don't just wish for a raise, focus on the things you need to do to get there. Such as getting certified in a new computer program, planning a networking meeting once a month, reading one work-related book every month, speaking up at every work meeting, etc. Once you start crossing these smaller goals off your list it gets addicting, and you'll keep at it all year long as your Big Resolution gets closer and closer in sight. Trust me, small goals add up to big things!

I hope these tips help you focus and feel successful in the coming year! I'd love to hear your thoughts, or what you determine to be your Lead Domino for the year! Happy 2016, or as I recently heard from a friend -- Sweet '16!