Every new year offers us a chance for self-reflection and self-improvement; the upcoming year is a blank canvas, and we get to step back and decide what to paint. At this precipice, looking at nothing but possibilities, hope and motivation are natural companions. Yet many of us are familiar with the annual cycle: set a bold New Year’s resolution, make great progress for the initial weeks or months, then lose steam and fall back into old habits. Still, we persist, re-fueling each new year and setting yet more goals.
At Susan Hunt Law, we are planners – we know that if you truly want to reach a goal, you need a dang good plan. New Year’s resolutions are no different: having a plan can be the difference between reaching your goal or losing motivation. By putting in a little extra work now, you can set yourself up for success all year long. So let’s talk planning, and make this New Year’s resolution the best yet.
New Year’s resolutions can be broken into two parts: the goal itself, and the progress towards it. To create an effective plan, we first have to tackle the goal. The very first step is to choose a goal that is achievable. Caught up in the excitement and optimism of the new year, it can be easy to over-shoot. You should still choose something that will challenge you, just stay realistic. Can you feasibly accomplish the goal within one year? If not, try scaling down.
Stick To Just One Goal
A big part of setting an achievable New Year’s resolution is also in limiting the number of goals you set. Try choosing just one. That way, you can concentrate your time and energy instead of spreading yourself too thin. If you’re struggling to choose just one goal, it can help to focus on the most meaningful one. The more meaningful a goal, the easier it is to stay motivated (and the bigger the reward when you achieve it!)
Make It Specific
Finally, make your resolution specific. For example, instead of saying, “I want to exercise more,” say “I will exercise for at least 30 minutes three times a week.” By choosing something specific, you make your goal concrete. This will give you a clear destination to reach and a way to measure your progress en route. Now you should be ready for part two: making your resolution come true.
At this point, you should have one achievable, meaningful, specific goal. All that is left is determining exactly how you will reach it. Here, it can be useful to think of the year as a long-distance run: instead of burning through all your fuel in the first few miles, try starting calm and steady, partitioning out your energy to ensure you can make it to the end. In a run, progress is tracked by distance; for your New Year’s resolution, you can create your own tracking system by scheduling weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly benchmarks. This will give you closer, more tangible mini goals to focus on as you progress towards the finish line.
Keep a Journal
To document your progress, with all its inevitable ups and downs, it can help to keep a resolution journal. Taking time to check in with yourself and your headway can be huge, offering insights into what’s working and what’s not. A journal can also help you stay motivated – looking back at how much you’ve already accomplished, or reading through earlier excitement and commitment, can rejuvenate and reinspire. If a journal just isn’t for you, try jotting down your progress on your calendar, a list, an app, or anywhere that lets you see just how far you’ve come.
Enlisting support is another great way to stay motivated and engaged. Share your goal with your partner, family, friends or coworkers – people with whom you can discuss your progress and who can help keep you accountable. When you hit a rough patch, having a little encouragement can go a long way.
Be Kind To Yourself
Finally, be kind to yourself. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and sometimes not even in a year. The important part is making progress towards a meaningful goal. However much progress you make, you will have improved your life in some way, shape or form. So don’t lose heart, and don’t give up; every day that you work towards your resolution is one more day that you’re taking charge of your life and making waves.
This New Year, make your resolution count by having a plan. And if your New Year’s resolution is finally creating a Will or a Trust, you can contact Susan Hunt Law and let us do the planning. We’ll see you next year!