It's time to get real! Too often we make unrealistic New Year's Resolutions and then fail to stick to them. We start full of hope and good intentions, but before long we're back to our old ways.
Now it's time to take stock of what's good in your life – and what isn't – and make plans to make this your best year yet!
Let's dive straight in!
First things first, you'll need to set aside at least two hours of your time – ideally three. Maybe you can book a half day off work – or get some ‘me time' to yourself at the weekend or in the evening. Then you'll need to sit down with your phone, notebook or laptop ready to plan your best year yet!
Next, you need to read and answer each of the questions below as truthfully as you can. Don't judge your responses or try to change them – just write down what comes naturally.
As you answer each of the questions, think back over the last year. We're going to be taking at look at your biggest successes, your biggest failures, your greatest motivations and what you really want to focus on and achieve this year. Let's do this!
What were your main accomplishments?
First write down any memories that made you happy – what circumstances were you faced with at the time? What situations or people made you feel good? Who made you feel like they cared – about your family, your career, your personal life?
Did you have a difficult heart-to-heart with someone that needed to happen? Did you gain new friends? Did you receive a pay rise or promotion at work? Did you change jobs, move house or end a disastrous relationship?
Maybe you learnt a new skill or attempted something that you'd never done before. These are all accomplishments – big and small!
What left you disappointed?
Sometimes it's easier to come up with things that we've felt let us down or disappointed us in some way, but try not to focus too much on the negative.
Just write down the main events, people and circumstances where you felt out of your control or disappointed by an event or a person.
And what about you? Did you ever feel you let yourself down? Upon reflection of a particular event, do you wish you could rewind time and react differently to it?
Allow yourself to briefly reflect on these – and then let them go. Forgive yourself and forgive others. There's no point in carrying that burden. It's time to get rid of the negative – and make room for the positive.
What did you learn?
You might have learned a new skill – or how to avoid certain situations arising. Have a look at the accomplishments that you've made a note of – what were the learning lessons that you've taken from them?
Why were certain circumstances successful – what role did you play and why did it work?
What motivated you to learn a new skill or how to deal with a person or a circumstance in a particular way? Did you gain control of your emotions and feel empowered?
Once you've made the list, re-read it and find at least two things from each point that would make the biggest difference if you reapplied them again the next time your were faced with a similar situation.
Then rewrite these are your own personal guidelines and focus. For example, these could be:
- I'll stick up for a friend when I think her husband is belittling her in front of me
- I'll ensure that I set aside 30 minutes to myself every day
- Next time I feel an argument arising, I'll be the first one to diffuse it by changing the subject
- I'll make positive steps to changing my career by allowing an hour a week to look for new jobs
You get the idea!
What's holding you back?
The first step in acknowledging where you go wrong and what you stumble over, time and time again is by writing down where things go wrong, why they go wrong and how you can prevent them from going wrong.
For example, you might want to quit smoking, but your partner doesn't. Things could go wrong because they might smoke in front of you for example, tempting you. Or they could offer you a cigarette when you've had a few drinks.
In this case, you have to ask yourself – how could you prevent the things from above from happening. You might choose to ban smoking indoors, ask your partner to hide the cigarettes, commit to having a dry January and asking for your partner's support in reducing the temptation.
The next step is to acknowledge the negative thoughts that you allow to control your behaviour – and then address them. You need to start changing your mentality.
What thoughts or feelings prevent you from achieving your goals? And in what ways are you going to tackle these? Stop telling yourself ‘You Can't' and start believing you can!
What do you value in life?
Ask yourself what is really important to you and the way that you live your life. What we strongly believe in (e.g. honesty, integrity, kindness, personal appearance etc..) will provide us with the greatest motivation to change how we live our lives.
Make a list of the values that you feel are the most important to you – and stick these up on the fridge or in your office so that you are reminded of them on a daily basis.
Alternatively, find inspiring or motivational quotes that include these values, print them off and stick them in pretty frames to put on your wall – whatever works for you. Know what you believe in and lead by example.
Focus on the roles that matter to you
We all play different roles in life; some of us are mothers, wives, girlfriends, sisters, daughters etc… We are also friends, homeowners, managers and negotiators.
Write down roles that are the most important to you this year – and include the roles that you want to be doing but are not currently e.g. a Pilates fan, a regular exerciser, a bilinguist etc
For each of the roles you've written down, write down the one thing that you would change about the role. Then think about any factors that are standing in your way and preventing you from making this change happen.
Once you've done that, start coming up with possible solutions on overcoming the things that are preventing you from making key changes.
For example, you might want to learn a new language at an evening class. However, being a single mother prevents you from going to the class as you have no childcare – and can't afford it. Look at possible solutions: perhaps you could offer to have a friend's child over for the day at the weekend if they help with childcare on the day of your class?
Using the information you've written about the roles you play – and the roles you'd like to play, it's time to start focusing on your goals – one at a time.
Make your goals as detailed as possible and then stand back and read them out loud to yourself. Pick out the ones that you feel you must do this year – maybe one from each role, but no more than 8.
It's important not to be overwhelmed when you do this exercise, so by really focussing on the things that are crucial to your happiness, only focus on the things that are truly important to you – and how you live your life.
The final step
You can now summarise your Best Year Yet plan! Start off by writing down your guidelines (Look at your points from the What Did You Learn question), followed by your affirmations (How you are going to change situations from the What's Holding You Back question).
Next write down your major focus for this year (from The Roles That Matter To You) and finally write down your goals (from Setting Goals).
Now comes the schedule: Set you goals for this month – and what you want to achieve by the end of this month. At the end of this month, write down the goals for the following month and so on.
Keep a record of your goals – what you did to try and succeed, as well as what worked (and what didn't), as this will help you in future planning.
Finally, remember not to beat yourself up if things go wrong; sometimes situations are out of our hands and accepting that you can't control everything plays a large role in living a happy life.
But congratulations! You've taken the first step in looking at what you want to change – and how you plan on making that happen, which if anything, will make everything much clearer moving forward.
I'm also working through my own goals in a bid to have my Best Year Yet, so if you need some morale support or guidance, then feel free to send me an email – I'd love to hear what your goals are and how you'll be focused on getting the results you want.
Above all – have fun. It's what life's about, right?
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- 25 Signs You Need A Break
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- What We Really Mean When We Say ‘I'm Fine'