A new year is once again upon us, and with it comes the promise of a fresh start on the path toward achieving our goals. But why is it that so many people fail to accomplish New Year’s resolutions? Many times it’s because our New Year’s resolutions and goals can seem too big, or worse, the fear of failure stops us from taking any action whatsoever.
Traditional resolutions and goals such as “lose 20 pounds,” “write a book,” or “launch a company” tend to put huge burdens on our shoulders. When you’re working toward goals such as these, you are essentially saying, “I’m not good enough yet, but I will be when I reach my goal.” The problem with this mindset is that you’re teaching yourself to always put happiness and success off until the next milestone is achieved. In order to counter this ineffective thinking and achieve lasting transformation, we must learn to develop daily habits and systems to achieve our goals which also allow us to be happy and enjoy the present. With that in mind, now is the time to set the intention to live your life with purpose and devise daily habits that will lead to your ultimate goals. This year, take conscious control of your life and direct it to a place filled with purpose, happiness, fulfillment and abundance. Here’s how to do it:
1. Define Your Life Purpose
One of the biggest problems with most people today is that they have no idea what they want out of life. They have no real purpose or direction driving their decisions so they end up coasting along, merely reacting to whatever comes their way. This is no way to live. It’s time to start living your life consciously and with focused intention. The first thing to do is invest in a nice journal which you can use as a guidebook for creating the life of your dreams. The process of writing is extremely beneficial because it allows you to cultivate your authentic self, reaffirm your intentions, reduce stress and create daily discipline.
Start out by writing down some questions at the top of the page: What is my life purpose? What makes me happy? What do I love to do? To answer these questions, you might want to default to things like ‘my family is my purpose’ or ‘being happy is my reason to live.’ These things are all well and good, but dive deeper. Your ultimate life purpose encompasses many things and there’s no point in selling yourself short. For example, my life purpose is: “To inspire others to live more passionately and intentionally while cultivating a successful career in marketing and digital media that uses my skills to their full potential to positively impact our planet and society.”
Start with the idea that everyone is put on Earth for a reason and it’s up to you to figure out what yours is. Take the time to write out a personal mission statement that defines your life purpose and goals. It’s okay if you don’t know exactly what that is right away. The mere process of asking the question “What is my purpose?” will set in motion a powerful subconscious process that in time will lead to an answer. Start with something and be open to modifying it as you go along.
2. Outline Your Goals
Goals come in many shapes and forms. You should have health goals, career goals, income goals, relationship goals and contribution goals. It’s also important to differentiate between short and long term goals. Take the time to write these various goals out in your journal and refer back to them weekly. The simple process of writing your goals down and looking at them regularly will significantly amplify your chances of achieving them by creating a powerful link to your subconscious. In turn, this connection to your subconscious will automatically help alter your daily habits so they are in line with your ultimate goals.
Think through your goalsand write them down. Have small steps written out each day in each of your goal categories. Example: Go to gym, send three proposals, tell wife I love her, etc. Stay away from broad, unrealistic goals which will only cause you action paralysis. The more focused and incremental your goals, the better. That’s not to say you can’t dream big. It’s just that your daily action steps need to be small enough to accomplish.
3. Create Daily Action Plan
The daily action plan or ‘to-do’ list is one of the most commonly shared habits among highly successful people. It’s crucial that you start each day with a to-do list. Organize your list in terms of importance: high priority, high value tasks on top and lower priority ones at the bottom. Lower value tasks should be cut out completely or delegated elsewhere. As you complete items, make sure you cross them out; the feeling you get when you cross them out will add to your sense of accomplishment and encourage you to keep pursuing your goals.Another great tip is never to go to bed without writing down your action plan/to-do list for the next day. This allows you to sleep with a clear head, without worrying about what you have to do tomorrow. Everything you need to get done will all be written down, so you can rest easy knowing all you have to do is wake up and follow your plan.
4. Surround Yourself with Positive Influences
You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. With that in mind, it’s crucial that you surround yourself with positive, uplifting people who share similar missions, values, and goals. When you examine who you associate with, you may find that you have to make some tough changes, but in order for you to rise higher you have to break away from relationships that are limiting you. In turn, you need to develop new relationships with people who are going to pull you up and inspire you to rise higher. If you’re the smartest one in your group, then your group is too small. Find people who will challenge you to stretch to the next level and become everything you’re meant to be.
By sharing your goals with your peers and by telling them deadlines as to when you will be somewhere or have something completed, you will also create an external accountability loop that will drastically increase your chances of success. A great example is working out with a partner or promising a colleague you will have something for them by a particular date. This external accountability promise increases the likelihood of you getting it done tenfold.
5. Follow Through & Repeat Monthly
Repeat the above steps monthly beginning in February, March, April, and so on. Ask yourself, “How can I build on that one change I made last month in a way that moves me where I want to be?” Decide to add another small change that builds on what you have already accomplished.
When goals seem too audacious, our brains will find a good reason not to begin. Our procrastination, perfectionism and fear of failure greet us as we look into the new year. So forget New Year’s resolutions and try monthly resolutions instead, ones that build upon each other.
If you commit to lasting change and layer on month by month, you’ll see notable progress as 2015 closes its doors. But first you have to start. Get out there, buy that journal, and get going.