Every year, we go through the same thing: we make resolutions about what we will do – exercise more, eat better, write every day… and that goes on for a few weeks, or a few months – and then the enthusiasm wanes, and we go back to our old habits.
One thing is for sure: resolutions don’t work. Resolving to take action isn’t enough. You have to have commitment, and to make a plan.
So, this weekend, after the festivities of New Year’s Eve are over, sit down and really think about what you want to accomplish creatively this year. It can help to take a big piece of paper, and draw your ideas, or just write them out, mind-map style. Then decide on your priorities. Not the ones you “should” do, but the ones that are a little scary, the ones you’re not sure you can accomplish. That’s where the energy is.
• Write them down. This can be on a big piece of paper, placed where you can see it regularly, or in a new journal, on the first page, where you can look back on them every day.
• Think about timeline: what is the end goal? Break it down into smaller pieces. What can you do in 9 months? 6 months? 3 months? This month? It’s helpful at this stage to keep to the big picture, but having a large goal broken down into smaller goals can help with the weekly and daily planning.
• As well as goals, think about rewards: How will you reward yourself at each stage? It’s important to choose things that will help motivate you. Don’t skip this step! When you’re in the middle of a long project, especially, it’s easy for motivation and energy to sink, leaving you wondering why you ever wanted to do this in the first place. The prospect of a reward can help keep you going when beating yourself up about lack of motivation or progress will just make you sink further.
• Finally, plan out your first week. What will you accomplish this week? What specific tiny steps will you take to make your goals a reality? If necessary, make it the tiniest possible step. Can you commit to five minutes per day? If your resistance is really strong, then maybe you have to take it in really tiny steps: the first day, just enter the room where you write. The second day, turn on the computer, or pull out a piece of paper and a pen. The third day, sit in the chair and pick them up. And so on. It may seem ridiculous, but tiny steps can circumvent the resistance very effectively. If it’s tiny enough that you can’t possibly not do it, it’s just right.
So, that’s what I will be doing this weekend. There is power in writing things down, in setting goals and intentions instead of just making resolutions. Look over what you accomplished (or didn’t) this year, and use that as motivation to help you plan your 2016. Make this the year you finally accomplish your Big Goal! If you’d like, share it in the comments. In the next entries, we’ll talk about the power of sharing and finding accountability partners.