So, we made it through the first month of 2021 (*insert happy dance).
Maybe you set some goals for yourself at the end of 2020 that didn’t quite pan out the way you wanted them to in January. I mean, hey, we’re still in a pandemic. Sticking to our resolutions isn’t always easy, and it can be especially difficult when the future is so unknown (how did “dry January” treat you?).
Maybe you’re not big on New Year’s Resolutions in general. After all, we can change the course of our lives at any given moment. And it’s not always possible or practical to wait until a New Year to make some serious changes.
Whatever your stance is, I’m a big believer that any opportunity to reset and reassess our situation can be helpful. And it’s all a matter of doing it in a way that works best for you.
In this post, we’re going to cover 4 simple yet effective ways to stay on track with your new year’s goals, or goals of any kind, rather than feel overwhelmed by them.
The first way to get back on track with your New Year’s Goals is to make sure that the goals you’ve set are totally and completely aligned with your values (1).
Sticking to goals is challenging at the best of times. So, the way to make following through a little easier is to ask yourself why you've chosen a particular goal. What higher purpose is it serving? What personal values does it align with?
For example, if a big value of yours is gratitude, you might set a goal of writing down three things that you’re grateful for every single day. Everyone’s values are different, so before you set a goal because you feel like you “have to” or because it’s “what everyone else is doing”, ask yourself how it aligns with one or more of your core values.
If you’re unsure of your values, a few examples of questions you can ask yourself are: Who do I admire? What inspires me to take action? When do I feel most like myself? (2).
You might also want to ask yourself how it’s serving an even bigger goal. Using the last example of gratitude, maybe you find that it’s tedious remembering to write things down every day. So, a way to reaffirm why you’re making it a priority is to ask what bigger goal it’s leading towards.
You could say, “By writing down what I’m grateful for every day, I’m building the habit of recognizing all of the good things in my life — which will in turn make me a happier person, a better spouse, better parent, etc.”
If you make sure that your goals are aligned with your values and lead towards a bigger goal — this will help keep you on track when you start to veer off course.
And if your big goal for 2021 seems too big and daunting, break it up into smaller chunks (3). What can you do right now to take the first step towards where you want to be?
No matter how self-disciplined you are with your goals, there will be times when you start to drift away from your path.
A really great analogy that I often refer to during my coaching sessions and in a Teresa’s Tips video that I filmed a while back — is how airplanes are actually off course for the majority of their flight. 90% of the time, to be exact (4).
We’re kind of like airplanes.
Whenever we set out to achieve a goal, it’s not a question of whether or not we’ll be off track. We will be off track.
It would be unrealistic to think that we’re focused on our goals all of the time. So, during the times that we’re “unfocused”, it means we’re off course. But, have no fear, it’s not as bad as you think.
Veering off course happens all the time, and can be solved with a simple course correction. In the context of flying an airplane, making a course correction is part of the job.
A pilot doesn’t freak out when their airplane is off course — they make the adjustment.
Part of working towards any goal or new year’s resolution is accepting the fact that you’ll be off course, and learning to recognize when you need to get back on track. In order to do this, form the habit of constantly asking yourself whether or not the thing that you’re doing serves your long-term goal. If it doesn’t, course correct! The more you course correct, the closer you’ll get to your destination.
A huge aspect of staying on track with your new year’s goals or achieving goals of any kind, is noticing the language you use when speaking about what you want to accomplish.
How you approach a goal says a lot about whether or not you’ll stay on track with it. If you find yourself feeling burdened by your goals, chances are you might need to adjust the way you speak about them.
As an example, let’s say your new year’s goal is to lose weight. Rather than approaching this goal by saying “I need to lose weight”, try shifting your language to, “I get to lose weight”, or “What steps can I take to lose weight?”
Doesn’t that feel a little better?
You see, the language of “I need to”, or “I have to”, are often the things that hold us back from accomplishing our big goals, because the tone implies that we’re unable to. Using this kind of language sets us up for chasing after goals that seem impossible to achieve.
So, the next time you’re speaking about your goal, check-in with the language you use. Are you coming from a place of excitement and possibility, or of burden and dis-ability?
The fourth way to help you stay on track with your new year’s goals? Don’t be so hard on yourself. I think we often have a tendency to beat ourselves up when we don’t keep up with our resolutions as often as we want to, or worse — give up on them altogether because we feel like we’re not doing enough.
A really great method that I use in my personal life is called the 201 Day Achievement Principle. In a nutshell, the 201 Day Achievement Principle is a system that helps you track your practices in a relaxed, stress-free way. The idea behind this system is that you don’t need to be on top of all of your goals every single day. Even if you stick to your practices 55% of the time, or 201 days out of the year, you can still see massive results in your life and in your habits.
This method has personally given me so much freedom.
Don’t get me wrong, I love yoga and meditation, and I wish I could do those things every single day. If you’re anything like me, committing to something every day stresses me out more than it does any good.
So, I no longer put pressure on myself to stay on track with my resolutions every single day. As long as I’m making room for the things that are most important to me 55% of the time, I’m in pretty good shape.
I also suggest not overwhelming yourself with too many goals or practices. In fact, the American Psychological Association (APA) suggests that focusing on one behaviour or goal at a time leads to more long-term success (5).
And if you’re wondering how to prioritize your practices and get super clear on what’s important to you and form stronger habits, click here to download our free Practice Clarifier worksheet.
There you have it, 4 simple and effective ways to stay on track with your new year’s goals or resolutions. Remember to give yourself some grace when you’re running towards a goal, know that you’re going to veer off course sometimes, and that it’s perfectly okay.
If you found this post helpful, feel free to share it with anyone you think might benefit from reading it.