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It’s the end of another year.
So, you’ve probably seen a whole lot of the obligatory “New Year, new me” related social media posts. And it makes sense.
A New Year is a fresh start and 12 new months to fulfill your goals, so it feels like anything is possible. But, according to a study, not many people succeed.
If you’ve set annual
resolutions goals for the last few years that haven’t exactly worked out, don’t throw in the towel just yet. Here’s an exercise I want to share with you in case it can help you set and reach attainable goals so you can really make 2017 your big year.
Step 1: Address your prior year goals without shame.
Okay, obvious first step here. Think about what your goals were for years in the past that didn’t work out. This step is uber important. Don’t start off the year acting all brand new without confronting your lack of success on other goals. I’ll use myself as an example here.
This year one of my major goals was to be completely debt free. I paid off my student loan in 2014. In 2016, I had my car note left to pay off and some credit card debt. The car note I paid off, woopy!
But I lost momentum with my credit card debt. The kicker is my credit card balances are extremely low. So my goal of becoming completely debt free was doable, but I missed the mark.
Action Step: Think about what you said you’d do in 2016. Don’t pretend you started this year goal-less because you haven’t met any of them.
Step 2: Be honest about why they didn’t work out.
Drill down and get super specific here. Explain to yourself why things didn’t pan out exactly as you’d hoped. The reason I didn’t pay off all of my debt this year was that my focus changed. I realized that for the last two years I had forgotten about self-care and had been all about making career moves.
I decided to make a few changes after a death in the family.
It became my mission to be more present in the moment through traveling and having more fun. I didn’t go into more debt for this new cause, but I did funnel more money into other areas besides debt.
So that’s it, the reason my debt free goal didn’t work out is that I put my attention and money elsewhere.
Action Step: Have a conversation with yourself about why you didn’t reach your goal. It may or may not have been something directly within your control. Or maybe you set a goal that was just too large to handle in one year. Whatever it is, understand why things didn’t work out for the next step.
Step 3: Forgive yourself for the past.
This has become one of the things I love doing more than anything.
Can you get stuck hashing and rehashing why you fell short? Can you get stuck in the probability that you won’t be able to achieve X, Y, or Z in the future because you made mistakes in the past?
Forgiving yourself can change this way of thinking. Identify where you fell short, explain to yourself why it didn’t work, and then forgive yourself for not measuring up.
This has helped me stop getting stuck for months on negative outcomes, so I can create an actual plan for moving forward.
Back to the example. In my debt scenario, pretty simple. It didn’t work out because I took my focus off of repaying debt. Ultimately, I could have made room for both things (fun and debt payments) if I was stricter with my budget. I’m admitting defeat, but I’m also forgiving myself for not being careful enough with my spending this year to make both happen.
Action Step: This may sound a little bit silly, but it can help you gain perspective. Instead of feeling like a loser for the next few months and letting the disappointment fester, choose to identify the problem and forgive yourself for it right now so you can move on.
Here’s a script you can use:
I said I would (insert the goal you didn’t meet). I didn’t attain this goal because (insert the reason). But that doesn’t mean I suck or that I can’t make it happen in the future — not at all. It was an experience that I needed to learn from and I forgive myself for factors within my control that caused me to miss the mark.
Step 4: Come up with a new approach.
Finally, think of a new way to operate that will increase your success. If what you did didn’t work last year, there’s a good chance continuing the same behavior won’t lead to success this year.
For me, I’m going to be more careful to budget for fun and aggressive debt payments. (If budgeting is one of your goals this year, check out my budgeting hack.)
Action Step: Rethink your approach to reaching your goals. You may even have different goals for this year than last year. Maybe the difference in approach is how often you check back in on your goals to make sure you’re making progress. Whatever it is, address how your past approach lead you to fail and figure out what you can do differently that will improve your chances of being successful.
Happy New Year!
Even if there are places that you fell short, I’m sure there are plenty of areas where you were successful. Give yourself a hand clap for those successes, my friend! Happy New Year!
Check out these posts on motivation and productivity next:
- 25 Inspiration Quotes to Keep You Motivated Through Fear, Failure, and Foes
- How to Get Motivated When You’re in a Slump
- How to Finally Move Out of Your Hometown
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