7 Ways to Start the New Year Strong (And Keep it Strong)
It's 2021! *cue confetti, noise makers, and a glass of champagne!* 2020 was one doozy of a year, and although a lot of things aren't magically going away like masks and the fight for equality, the start of the new year feels fresh. It feels ripe with possibilities and what we can do differently. But a week or two after we make those sweeping resolutions are made, the hype starts the fade, the decorations are back in their boxes, and the daily problems start to stack up again. We leave our excitement and accountability somewhere in the middle of January and remember to tack it on to next years resolutions list.
What if I told you there are 7 sure fire ways to keep your New Year's Resolutions longer than you ever have before? What if I told you your days of slowly losing steam on your resolutions and accomplishments are long behind you? This won't be a walk in the park, and honestly, you may have heard them before, but these tricks really do work! People ask me how I'm able to stay motivated with my businesses and yes, a lot of it is loving what you do, but you can only go so far with your emotions. Some days you just don't care about anything and you want to give up and be a professional tv watcher (wow that sounds amazing as I'm typing it). What keeps me motivated are the tricks I put into place at the beginning of every year. Without my tricks I'm a novice hiker lost in the woods without a compass. With these tricks, I'm in the woods with a compass, a map, and cell service to call on a friend if I lose my way.
This list of 8 tricks is what has worked for me but, and this is the most important part, do what works for you! Start here and tweak your systems and tricks until you know they will work for you. You can read all of the self-help books, post all of the inspirational quotes, and take all of the classes in the world, but if you haven't decided to put in the work and stick to what you've set out to do, your resolutions mean nothing. It's a journey, but it's your choice where you go.
1) Write it down
Now, this one can't be new to you. They say you're 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. Writing down your resolutions and goals not only forces you to be clear on what exactly you want to accomplish, but it also acts as a motivator to keep you on your path.
I write my yearly resolutions down in a very specific way. If you would like to copy what I do, by all means, go right ahead! If you would like to take parts of what I do, be my guest! What I do is start by reflecting on last years goals. I'll talk about this later, but this definitely isn't the first time I've looked at that in the year, but it's the first year I judge them. By that I mean, I look at what I accomplished, what I haven't quite done yet, and what is so far off my radar at this point, I wonder why I even wrote it down in the first place. I then make it a list..things I accomplished and things I didn't accomplish (usually, the things I did is a much longer list).
I then take to my tarot deck. If you follow this brand on social media, you know I take to my cards a lot. Do I think they can tell my future? No. I'm the only one who can decide that. What I use my tarot deck for is to get my brain thinking, almost like a journal prompt. Would I want this for my life? What does this vague situation remind me about my own life? Prompts like that. Anyway, I take to my deck and pull myself a New Year's reading. This is the biggest pull I do the entire year (about 12 cards) and it speaks on everything from relationships, to successes to troubles I might face. I pull it all, I write it down, their meaning, and how I think it will relate to my life in the next year.
The next piece (or pieces) of paper I pull are real, concrete goals I wish to see in the next year. I have a section for personal (drink more water, exercise, therapy, focus on friendships), and for my businesses. I then get even more specific. If I wanted to drink more water my goal would be "when thirsty, only drink water, no soda or juice. Drink x amount of water a day." I do this for every single one of my goals. The reason I do this is it takes vague resolutions like "drink more water" and gives me concrete actions I can tick off a box every day. Am I thirsty? Yes. What should I drink? Water. That's how I train my brain to think with specific concrete resolutions. I could talk all day just about this point, but let's move on.
2) Put your goals where you can see them every day
I promise you, this may be just as important as actually writing your goals down. If you write your goals at the beginning of the year, the chances of you accomplishing, let along remembering, your goals becomes slim. Put your goals where you can see them every day, whether it's next to your bed, at your desk, on your computer, in your bathroom. Make sure they're not in a book you have to flip open and make sure they can be easily read. Color coding, writing in simple print, and putting it on printer paper, taped on the wall next to my bed is my favorite way to achieve this.
If you realize by August, you're not acknowledging your goals anymore, re-write them in different colors or in a different way. Make your brain notice them again. The worst thing you can do for your goals is forget they're even there.
3) Make each month something new you can focus on
So now, you know your goals and they're written clearly where you can see them. How can you make sure you don't get bored? Take one of your goals and break them up into 12 topics, so you can focus on one new element a month. If your goal is exercise more, find 12 different ways to exercise or parts of the body to focus on, etc.
Last year I wanted to learn more about and focus more on crystal meaning as well as work on my intentionality and spirituality within Eaarthbones Jewelry. That's when I decided each month would be a color, and instead of coming up with my own colors I just turned to the birthstones. That took care of colors for my social media, intentions to focus on in the month through birthstone properties, and bonus, it stepped up my crystal properties game with our social media followers. Getting bored of a color or concept? No worries, by the beginning of the next month, I'd have a whole new journey to start on.
You don't need to do this for every single one of your goals (yikes), but choose something you know you want to dig deeper into and see where it leads you!
4) Tell people
Accountability buddies, anyone?
This trick is as old as time but dang, does it work! The human aspects this trick works on is shame and reward. If you tell people, even one person, about your goals, you are staggeringly more prone to accomplish your goals. The American Society of Training and Development says you have a 65% more of a chance of completing a goal if you tell someone. Wow, insane.
Think about it. If you tell someone you're going to exercise 3 times a week, and they ask you about it, you're going to feel one of two ways. If you haven't been doing it, you'll feel shame that someone now knows you are not completing your goals (and hopefully encouraged if they suggest you do it) or rewarded if you have been working out 3 times a week and receive praise.
Making sure you're not the only one motivating yourself takes a lot of the work and pressure off of yourself. Find an accountability partner (or partners) for one or a few of your goals. This will really change the game for you.
5) Cheating is a slippery slope so add in an escape plan
Ahhh, here we get to the moment where we've heard the phrase "fallen off the band wagon".
You're exhausted one evening after work, you come home, and it's a journaling and meditation evening. Your goal was to journal and meditate more often so you decided Mondays and Wednesdays are your journal days. But this specific Monday you were exhausted so you say you'll journal and meditate twice as long on Wednesday. But you don't. You barely get to your journal on Wednesday and you definitely don't meditate. I'm sure you can see where this will end up. Maybe getting to your journal once a month and not meditating anymore because "it doesn't really work for me".
So how can we avoid this problem? How can we be human or have a bad day or week and not completely forget about our goals? You add an Escape Plan.
What does an Escape Plan mean? An Escape Plan is an alternate day you'll do your task if today you're just unable to function. It's a way you can make up for the lost day without just skipping it all together. Monday was a tough day? Well your escape plan is to journal and mediate on Tuesday that week because you know Mondays can be hard on you. Didn't practice yoga on Sunday like you usually do because you spent time with your family instead? Tuesday is your built in Escape Plan. No sweets is your goal but you would give your first born for a brownie once in while? Choose a brownie cheat day...you don't always have to take it, but it's built in so you don't have to think or worry about it.
It's all about taking the brain power out of your goals so you can focus on other things that will come up in your life.
6) Be kind to yourself when life gets in the way
Now, what happens if you have your brownie Escape Plan day, which is Saturday, but you enjoyed a brownie on Wednesday because it was the worst day in human history. You decide, "ok that was my Escape Day" so all is well. But then your accountability buddy brings you an amazing brownie on your actual escape day (Saturday) and you enjoy that as well.
This, my friend, is where you may be given the opportunity to fall off the band wagon. You think, "I've already had my brownie twice this week, I might as well give up and be hard on myself". What I have to say to you is you are human.
These are tips and tricks, but we're not perfect! You are human and may falter but that's why these are called "goals" not "things I've already mastered". You may falter, you may not read as much as you wanted one month because it was just a hard month. You may not make as much money as you wanted for a little while because, ya know, pandemic. You may watch more tv or eat things that comfort you if you're having a hard time. That is okay. I give you permission to tell yourself it is okay.
Once you've had your moment to nurse yourself in whatever way works for you, you re-visit your goal list like I'll talk about next, you get back on this band wagon that I apparently can't stop bringing up, and you keep going. People are rarely impressed by those who are perfect all the time. We're impressed by those who may falter, or have a hard time and show their strength through determination. Don't feel like being strong right now? That's cool. Just knowing you will have that strength in the future is all you need. Now for how you get back on it...
7) Visit your list a few times a year
We are coming to the end of my "what works for me most of the time so I hope it can work for you too" list. My final trick I have in my bag to give you is to revisit your list as much as you feel you need to throughout the year.
Feeling a little lost and unsure about your purpose? Revisit your list. Fallen off that wagon and ready to get back on? Revisit your list. It's Sunday and that's the day you've decided to revisit your list? Revisit your list.
Your brain works off of what you remind it to know or do. In the business world, they say people need to be reminded of something 7 times before they will take action. This "Rule of 7" can be used with your goals. If you want to take action on something that means you need to tell yourself every day of the week before you will actually do it.
Something that will also seriously give you a rush of serotonin when you do it is CROSS THINGS OFF YOUR LIST WHEN YOU COMPLETE THEM! Seriously, this feeling is better than coffee (almost).
Let's say you wanted to read 24 books in a year. That can be a pretty daunting number. Every time you finish a book, write it down then cross it out. Let's say you wanted to cook at home 3 times a week. Write down the days of the week or what you cooked then cross them out. The feeling of completing a task and visually seeing that on your list will keep you coming back. And if you're having a down day, you can look back at that list and remind yourself how much of a badass you are!
Cheers to a new year with a lot of the same problems we are still left to figure out from last year but a little more knowledge on how to do that.
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