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7 tips to a great year Every year it’s the same. You make a New Year’s Resolution, but never actually follow through for the entirety of it. Every year, you try again with the same result.
As humans, we are geared towards doing the easy thing; the status quo. This is because whereas it may or may not be “good,” it is known. Fulfilling a dream or following through on a goal is difficult because both the track to get there and the final point are unknowns.
To the primitive limbic system in our brain, the part of the brain responsible for survival in dangerous situations, unknowns could mean death.
The fight/flight part of the brain cannot distinguish between real, perceived, physical and emotional threat. To the fight/flight part of the brain, all four: real, perceived, physical, emotional are the same: real.
The downsides to letting our limbic system take control of our New Year’s Resolutions every year is that we stay stuck in the same patterns year after year. We don’t grow the way we know we can.
Not only do we get stuck, but we also start to feel down on ourselves. We’re just not able to stick to a goal. It doesn’t work. Everything they say to do, it doesn’t work. And we give up…over and over. Then we start to feel like it’s not worth it to even try.
We may laugh it off, but it still doesn’t feel good that we can’t meet our goals. At some point, we may even stop making New Year’s Resolutions because we know they won’t come true anyway. What’s the point in continuously proving to ourselves that we can’t follow through on something?
Unfortunately, all this does is keep us stuck. It brings our motivation level down, brings our hope down, and we become robots of our lives instead of taking control of our lives.
You and more than half the world’s population are in the same boat. You are not alone. A lot of people struggle to make the next year a great year for them.
Are you ready to make 2019 a great year? A year of fulfilled goals and follow through on plans? It will take effort on your part. I can give you the blueprint, but I cannot do the work for you. Keep in mind that the brain wants the simple route because it sees that as safe and the hard route it sees as dangerous.
I hope that you had a good 2018, but wouldn’t it be amazing to make 2019 a great year? It’s true that you’ve tried many tricks of the trade to stick with your goals for the new year and have given up each time so far. However, if we can learn a few tips as well as the reasons why these tips work, we can make 2019 a great year.
When we understand a problem and the reason for the solution, it is easier to apply the solution. Take putting alcohol on a cut for example. Why in the world would you put something on a cut that makes it hurt more? Because we know that the temporary pain from the alcohol will clean out or kill any bacteria that may cause an infection. A temporary pain will prevent further damage.
Understanding how and why these tips work as well as how the brain works will make it easier for you to use the tips and see the results.
Keep reading for 7 tips so you can make 2019 a great year for you!
The biggest downside of not planning for 2019 to be a great year is staying stuck for yet another year. You’ve done this year after year; you’ve felt stuck every year when it doesn’t work out the way you plan. It’s frustrating!
You may have even given up on setting goals for the new year. Why bother? Nothing ever changes or works anyway. You don’t ever stick with it, so why set yourself up for another disappointing year?
Living this way is a slow descent into complacency. By not setting goals because we don’t achieve them anyway, we start becoming a robot in life. We go about life in a hum drum sort of way, never feeling passionate and excited about ourselves.
Although you struggle with hopelessness that you’ll reach your set goals, you have the potential to meet them and be the person you want to be.
When we choose to do this, we have the possibility to be passionate and excited about ourselves and our lives. We have the ability to make a few small changes and get big results.
Whereas you are tired of doing the same thing and not reaching your goals, there is a way to hack this and make 2019 a great year.
The key to achieving success is to have a roadmap to get you there. We can’t just rely on our own internal patterns. Our brains are set to success, but they’re also set to doing the easy thing.
If we can use a roadmap to reach our goals, we will be making it easier, and therefore setting ourselves up for success.
Making these changes is not as difficult as you think because you will be using two very motivating factors: accountability and rewards. Both of these are key to molding behavior.
Take a look at these 7 tips to see how you can make 2019 your best year yet!
1. Reflect on 2018. What are you grateful for?
Gratefulness has been shown to change people’s brains. The chemicals released when we feel true gratefulness are similar to the chemicals that are part of our reward system. We are wired to want to be successful and happy, so adding gratefulness to your daily routine can literally help you feel calmer and happier.
There’s a poem I love called I am Thankful. When I look it up online, I have found several versions, but the gist is taking something “negative” and turning it into something “positive.” For example, “I am thankful for the high heating bill in the winter because it means I have a roof over my head.”
Take a look at 2018, what are you grateful for? Is there anything that you grumbled about that you can turn around and make into a more positive experience?
When you add gratefulness to your planning process, it will bring you into a sense of calm and success, setting you up for creating attainable goals for 2019.
2. Identify all of the important aspects of your life and rank them 0-10 on how well you did on them this year.
With my clients, I do this in the form of a wheel. It is called the balance wheel. Draw a circle and from the center going out, draw several lines, like spokes on a wheel. In each section, write an important part of your life. This could be health, financial, family, leisure time. Anything that is important to you.
Then with 0 at the center of the wheel being poor and 10 at the outside of the wheel being excellent, draw a line across the section to indicate how well you did on that aspect of your life.
Nobody’s wheel is round. I recommend that you don’t even try to make it round. However, when you notice something is falling, you may want to increase your attention on that aspect. Realizing that there is still only 24 hours to work with, so something else will take back burner when you increase time spent on the next important aspect.
3. Choose one aspect of your life that you want to improve on next year. Then ask yourself why? Why do you want to improve this?
Dig down with the why. Ask yourself why several times. A surface why will not be strong enough to stay with this goal. “I will do cardio exercise 3 times per week for 30 minutes per session for the month of January.” Why? “Because I want to get in shape.” Why? “Because I want to keep up with my kids when they run around.” Why? “Because I feel sad and a bit guilty that I can’t play with my kids.” Why is it important to feel happy playing with my kids? “Because interacting with my kids will provide me a sense of connection and give my kids a sense of safety and fun as they grow up.”
There’s a big difference between “I want to get in shape” and “Interacting with my kids will provide me a sense of connection and give my kids a sense of safety and fun as they grow up.” The likelihood that you will stick with your goal is much higher when you use the reason to exercise as the latter one.
4. Now that you know your why, set your goal
I’m sure you’ve heard of SMART goals. This form of setting goals is all over the internet. SMART is a mnemonic which stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Limited.
Let’s take a look at the goal I mentioned above: I will do cardio exercise 3 times per week for 30 minutes per session for the month of January. Is this specific? Measurable? Attainable? (Ok only I can answer if it is attainable). Relevant? Time limited? It seems to fit all of those criteria.
What if I set the goal: I will exercise three times per week. Is that specific? Measurable? Attainable? Relevant? Time limited? Can you see the difference between the two goals? Which one will give you a better shot at sticking to it?
5. Set your rewards and accountability
What will keep you motivated? When you set rewards, make sure your rewards don’t counter what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re trying to lose weight and you reward yourself with a giant piece of chocolate cake every week, it’s not likely to help. (That’s not to say if your goal is to lose weight that you should deprive yourself of all sweets always. Just to say make sure you don’t undo everything you’re working towards).
Accountability is also very helpful. This is why people will have gym buddies (people who will meet them at the gym), and also why programs like weight watchers and AA are effective.
When you schedule a session with me, we will work together to help you identify what rewards and accountability factors will help you meet your goals.
6. Keep your goal sheet in view
One of the problems people have in sticking to their goal is “out of sight out of mind.” Write out your goal, your why, your rewards and accountability or use my template which can be downloaded here.
We are geared to doing the easy thing because it is known and often comfortable. Changing behaviors, even if it is to more healthy behaviors goes against what the brain believes is safe and smart. It is often an uphill battle to make these changes. If your goal is in your head only, or is in a drawer somewhere, the likelihood of meeting the goals drops significantly.
My clients and I develop a plan to look at their goal each morning and plan their day around their goal, ensuring that it stays in their mind every day.
7. Review your goal daily
This goes along with keeping your goal sheet in view and goes along with gratitude. Every evening, take 2 minutes to review your goal. What worked? What didn’t? What was your mindset when you were acting on your goal? How will you improve tomorrow?
The purpose of this is to train the brain that this new behavior is not a scary bad thing to be avoided, but something to be sought after. It helps the brain accept the new behavior, making it easier to do on a day to day basis.
Adding these seven tips to your life will make it possible for you to meet your goals and make 2019 a great year for you.
Achieving your goals is a wonderful feeling and can be very fulfilling. When you lose the weight you’ve been trying to, or stop a behavior you have not been able to in the past, it is a feeling of success and provides a feeling of hope and excitement to your life.
You absolutely can meet your goals and make 2019 a great year. Meg Young, LCSW, PLLC can help as I love getting people where they want to be and use these same techniques in my own life. I know how hard it is to meet your goals and want you to be successful.
Schedule an appointment with me today to get yourself ready for 2019!