Do you usually make New Year's resolutions?
If it usually works for you and you achieve your goals then well done to you. I mean really well done because most people don’t get that far with theirs.
The majority of resolutions are not fulfilled, typically we over commit, under prepare, and set ourselves up to fail.
It goes like this - you don’t stick to it and then you feel bad, you feel guilty, maybe even angry with yourself and your habits become even worse.
And then the following year the cycle begins again.
I can hear you shouting at the screen now “Ok stop, haven’t I been through enough of a s*** show recently without you starting on me”.
Don’t worry, I’ll stop but I want to show you that it doesn’t have to be like that again in 2022.
I want to encourage you to take a completely different approach – one that is far more achievable, sustainable and relevant to what you really want.
Get yourself a cup of something and read on, this is quite a long one.
When you look to move forward, it's a great idea to first look back and reflect on what has happened (or maybe what hasn’t happened) and this is what I want to encourage you to do – take some time to reflect on 2021, in order to move forward.
Part 1: The Looking Back bit
Coaching is usually pretty much focused on looking at where you are now, planning forward to where you want to be and how you want to feel in life.
Once you work that out, you then look at the ways that you can make changes and make it all happen.
Moving forward is all about planning and strategy and the past can come into that.
I don’t encourage my clients to ruminate and stay in the past, but it does come into play in various ways.
For instance if we are dealing with limiting beliefs that we pick up along the way we look to the past to work out where they came from and we look to move forward with a different perspective.
We can also look to the past to unpick skills and knowledge that we may have forgotten that we have, in order to use those skills in our current lives.
This is particularly true in my work as a midlife coach, things that we used to love doing often fall by the wayside as life gets in the way, our responsibilities take over and we get used to putting everybody else first.
If you used to love doing something and you want to do it again, then make time for it. Put yourself first again, it's not selfish, it's self-preservation.
Reflecting on 2021 – ask yourself this
I would like you to reflect on the past year and ask yourself some questions and complete some sentences – the sort of question that I think is relevant goes something like this, but feel free to make your own:
What went well for you?
What wasn’t so good?
What do you want to keep going with?
What do you want to stop, either for a while or forever?
What was the hardest thing you had to do?
I surprised myself when I…
I couldn’t believe it when I managed to…
I realised this about myself....
If I could change one thing about my personal life, it would be…
Same as above but for work life
I want to feel....
I don't want to feel like.....
There are loads more things you could ask yourself, but you get the picture – I’d love to hear what questions you come up with.
Part 2: The Moving Forward bit
You may already have some plans and goals for 2022 and maybe now you have looked at the last year, you might have a clearer idea of how to put them in place.
A while ago, (actually it was ages but it's still relevant!) I wrote a blog post about making decisions and listed a lot of questions that are relevant here. This resonated with a lot of people and you can find the questions to ask yourself here.
In addition to all of the questions, here are three very simple tips that I think can help you ensure you stick to your goals and I promise they are not hard to follow:
Simple, small steps
In all honesty, the best plans are the simplest ones. We need to get out of the mindset of believing that simple is bad.
What do you need to do to get to your goal and what are the little steps you can take on the way to get you there?
Take your goal and plot your small steps in reverse, starting from the date you want to hit the goal by, right back to today’s date. Write it all down so that you can see exactly what needs to happen at what stage and then you can also chart your progress.
I call the little steps bite-size chunks as it’s often easier to think of doing lots of little things rather than tackling one huge goal, head-on.
Get some positive cheerleaders
The people closest to us have a huge influence on how we see the world. You’ve probably heard the saying ” You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
During our times of one-off lockdown and perhaps working from home, that feels even more poignant than usual.
What this demonstrates is how having positive people cheering you on makes the goal seem more achievable, boosts your mood, and even inspires you to stay on track with your goal.
There is an easy way to check if this works – spend a day with only positive people; at the end of the day think about how the world looks and feels to you and I can guarantee that it will feel better.
Now repeat it with negative people, I guarantee you will see a big difference!
You probably now know who you would like to spend your time with and how they can help to make a difference to your view of the world.
Daily mindset boost
This last one is about working on your mindset, every day. And this is the tip with goal setting that often doesn't get talked about.
When it comes to making your goals a reality, everybody talks about getting to that goal through sheer willpower alone. But if the essential piece of the puzzle is missing ie the mindset that allows you to reach that goal, you are going to feel that you are embarking on the biggest uphill slog in the world.
We can shift our focus to notice the good things rather than dwelling on the things that haven’t gone quite so well, but again this takes daily practice.
However, when we do it and our mindset shifts to become more positive, it makes a world of difference to our mood and energy, which in turn makes the goal much more reachable and enables us to move forward.
So those are the three main things that you need to stay on track to reach your goals.
Only you know whether your goal is achievable for you and sometimes you need to re-assess the goal to check if it is still what you want.
If you hit a roadblock and it holds you up a bit, don’t beat yourself up. Just go back to your list, work out where you need to start again, maybe you need to make some tweaks and then get back on track.
It’s also important to celebrate your successes, no matter how small. If you don’t recognise what you have achieved, how will you know how well you are doing?
Make your plans by all means but currently we still need to remain as flexible as we can.
The last two years have shown us that we don’t always have as much control as we think and of course this continues for us indefinitely. But that’s not a reason to stop making plans – sometimes just having the plans helps us to feel like we are moving forward.
Goals aren’t just for January and the news is telling us that next month probably isn't going to be your average January, so remember to work on your goals at the pace that feels right for you, you don’t want to burn yourself out.
Ok, I know that was a pretty long read and thank you for bearing with me. I won’t make a habit of it. But before I go...
I think it's also important to stress that you shouldn't feel that you have to have goals all the time, if there is something that you want to achieve or change then work on it, but maybe you don't have anything right now and that's totally fine.
If you do want to work on some things, perhaps to brainstorm exactly what you are thinking and feeling, then remember that you don’t have to do this on your own.
If you would like some help and support from me along the way to keep you focused and accountable, I would love to help, get in touch and we can have a chat.