Eternally optimistic that 2107 is the year you will nail those New Year’s Resolutions? Congratulations on being one the many filled with enthusiasm and belief that you will radically alter your life. But before you rush off to start your New Year’s Resolutions, let me share some depressing facts. According to research from the University of Scranton, only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions. Depressing indeed, but that’s because most people approach New Year’s Resolutions with faulty thinking.
New Year’s is the Wrong Time
Our resolution decisions often come right after a time of over indulging and over spending. We use resolutions as admonitions to ourselves for being weak, getting in debt, eating too much, drinking too much, or not exercising enough. We are filled with guilt! Success rarely comes from being shamed into something, even if it is only ourselves doing the shaming. What is so special about New Years? Is it that we make ourselves feel better by joining others in a pity party of uselessness? Thankfully by January 15th, the pity party should be over and you can go back to doing what you always do.
We Try to Fix from Outside In
Most resolutions are things that make us look better – lose weight, exercise more, go to bed earlier, get up earlier, quit smoking, quit drinking, or get out of debt. These are all admirable aspirations but the problem is that we don’t have an underlying foundation for why we are doing what we are doing, an overall plan that actually means something to us.
Create Your Mission Statement
Instead of developing a list of resolutions that even you know won’t last, write a mission statement for yourself. Most of us are familiar with mission statements in our work situation but rarely consider a mission statement for our own lives. Spend some time, with a partner if you like, figuring out your “why.” Simon Sinek defines our “why” as the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you to do what you do.
J.D. Roth (Money Boss) recommends asking three questions to help find your “why”:
- If money was not an issue how would you live your life?
- If you only had five to ten years left to live (but never felt ill), what would you do with your remaining time? How would you change your life?
- If you only had 24 hours left what are the things you would regret if you died leaving undone, unsaid, not attempted?
Whether you are 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, or older it is never too early or too late to find your “why.” Answering these questions will help you develop a short mission or purpose statement for your life, using the things that are most important to you in your life. My husband and I recently developed our mission statement:
“Our Mission is to build a life of freedom supported through our passions, skills, and talents while building relationships with those who matter most to us.”
After going through the “why” exercise the things that were most important to us were family and friends, freedom (to do the work we wanted to, when and where we wanted to), and doing what we were passionate about in our lives.
Set Your Goals
Now that you have your “why” you have an incentive to work towards it. From the “bucket list” that you have formed, choose the top 3 to 5 “must do” and rank them in order of importance. These will be your focus for 2017.
For each of these 3 to 5 goals put in a target date and 1-3 actionable items. For example, if one of your goals is to own your own home but you are badly in debt right now, your first actionable step will be to get out of debt. To do that you will need some other actionable items, such as eliminating some of your discretionary spending and using that money to pay down your debt. By focusing on just your top 3 to 5 goals you have a powerful incentive to make changes in your life – you have a clear goal, you have a time frame for achieving it, and you have action steps to get you there. Check in on your progress quarterly to ensure you are still moving forward, and readjust where necessary.
Clean Out the Clutter
To make room in your life for your most important goals clear out those things that are not contributing to your “why.” By having a strong mission statement it is easy to measure how you spend your time, effort, and money against your mission. If an activity (such as watching hours of T.V. or surfing the net or Facebook) doesn’t positively contribute to you achieving your goal, eliminate or decrease it in your life.
Scrap the New Year’s frenzy of promises that will get you nowhere and take the more strategic approach that will actually deliver results fueled by what really lights you up!
Comment below and share what has worked for you in setting up implementable changes in your life.