Dreaming is undeniably easier than doing. So when we sit down to make resolutions at the first of the year, it’s easy to be blinded by the excitement of possibility without much thought of the actions we’ll take to turn those dreams into reality.
Then enters the guilt. Guilt that we failed so quickly, guilt that we don’t actually know how to take steps forward, guilt that we just aren’t motivated enough to do anything but stick to the status quo.
There are a variety of reasons why some New Year’s resolutions live and die within the first few weeks of January, but the truth is, sometimes the resolution itself is to blame.
With 2015 now fully underway, now is the time to reevaluate those resolutions and make sure they are worth the time and energy it will take to turn them into reality.
Here are five things to consider.
Your resolutions are “shoulds.”
From the time we are young, we’re bombarded with a lot of “shoulds” – things that other people tell us we need to be doing, saying, thinking. Many of these are based on facts, and are worth considering.
But “shoulds” don’t plant sparks. They likely won’t make you excited to cross the finish line, and they certainly won’t keep you engaged and moving when motivation is lacking.
“Shoulds” are one-size-fits-all resolutions. At the foundation, financial resolutions may consist of “shoulds” – saving for retirement, getting out of debt, etc. But it’s the “why” of those resolutions that should be unique to you. What will YOUR retirement look like? What does debt freedom mean to YOU?
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If all you see are “shoulds,” it’s time to reevaluate and get to your “why.” Only then will you convince your mind it’s worth the time and effort it will take to reach the end goal.
You believe they’re too big to reach.
How much do you believe in your own ability to put your resolution into action and accomplish what you’ve set out to?
I would be elated if I could reach a seven-figure net worth by years end, and I’m a firm believer that people can experience massive change at the blink of an eye. But that seven-figure end goal isn’t something I can even begin to wrap my head around enough to create a plan of action. So I would probably never act on it with any sense of seriousness, and I would quickly throw in the towel.
Anyone can make massive goals, but it’s the people who create achievable goals that require stretching, who find the most motivation and success.
Are your goals big enough to inspire and push you to grow but reasonable enough that you can actually picture what the finish line looks like? Or are they so far ahead of where you currently stand that you can’t even begin to imagine the outcome?
Start with a sight you can see, and then put the milestone further out once you reach it.
They’re not aggressive enough.
If, on the flip side, you’ve created resolutions that are only a small fraction ahead of where you currently are, I’d guess that your excitement is probably lacking there as well.
Imagining the outcome and only being able to see the difference between then and now with a strong microscope won’t push you to move. Ironic, isn’t it? Something that takes minimal effort and something that likely takes more effort than we can muster usually end with the same outcome – giving up.
Instead, find the sweet spot. If that means creating resolutions that stretch but don’t strain, and then revisiting them at the 6-month mark, then do it. Whatever gets you pumped to actually ACT.
There’s too many.
For many people, too many decisions are paralyzing. In fact, too many decisions can impede decision making so much, that you never actually make one.
Too many resolutions can often have the same effect. When you actually think about achieving them, you don’t know where to start, how to make them work together, or how to prioritize what should fall where.
Scattering your focus like that will eventually lead you to abandon them all.
Instead, salvage a few of them, or maybe even just one. Pick what speaks to you the most, maybe the one that, if achieved, would make you feel the greatest sense of accomplishment at the end of the year.
They’re not specific enough.
Vague resolutions are the easiest to ignore. They are the ones that are quickly labeled “someday” and put on a shelf to rot until next year.
On the other hand, resolutions with dates or numbers attached require much more accountability and are more likely to be actively pursued. Not to mention, creating specifics is the first step to planning – something that is essential if you want to actually spur change.
If your resolutions aren’t specific, there’s a chance you planned to scrap them anyway. But if you’re serious about keeping them, now is the time to really hone in on what you want, when and why.
Where do you stand with your New Year’s resolutions?