Being an “all or nothing” kind of person for a good portion of my adult life, I certainly have been.
In my late teens and early twenties, they seemed to be things like:
This year I will be skinny!
This year I will grow my hair long!
Thankfully I progressed beyond this (and the over use of exclamation marks) and about seven years ago, NOT on December 31, I started writing down all of the things that I wanted to achieve; within a timeframe of a few months and also a couple of years.
I split these things up into the below categories:
* Family and Friends
Admittedly, back when I was 23, my top financial goal was to save enough to buy a black Mercedes SLK convertible (the one with the indicators in the side mirrors), my major health goal was to be a consistent size 6 (US peeps, that’s a size zero… WTF was I thinking?), my career goal was to be performing on Broadway with a record deal in the works and my mission for my family and friends was simply that they be “fabulous”. I don’t even think I had any personal goals because I was too busy frantically trying to accrue the others.
Now there’s nothing wrong with dreaming big but clearly (and thankfully) my idea of what constitutes a beautiful life has dramatically changed.
I was a bit of a late bloomer in discovering what would generally make for a happy, sustainable, fulfilling life and it wasn’t until my late 20′s that I began to work out which “things”truly mattered.
Globally, apparently 78% of all adults set new year’s resolutions. In the western world, a recent study across the 20 largest nations found that the top 10 new year’s resolutions for 2010 were:
1. Improve financial situation
2. Lose weight
3. Develop a healthy habit i.e. healthy eating, exercise
4. Change employment
5. Develop a regular savings plan
6. Break an unhealthy habit i.e. smoking, alcohol, overeating
7. Spend more time with family and friends
8. Other (Note: the mind boggles! Do you think this was to go skydiving, have more sex, take time to smell the roses or not make crap resolutions next year?)
9. Get organised
10. Develop a new skill or talent
Research also shows that to successfully sustain the motivation and action towards achieving your set goal, over a period of more than four months, it takes TWO things:
Information (about how to save or invest your money, the types of food you should be eating, where you can go to learn a new language etc)
Psychological Technique (Correctly identifying the right goal for you, how this is positive and what effects it will have on you, listing the obstacles that stand in your way and coming up with ways that you will overcome these etc)
Other helpful techniques include telling people about your goals so that you are accountable, rewarding yourself as you make progress towards your goal (note: if it’s to be more healthy, a booze bender probably isn’t a great reward) and writing your goals down and regularly reviewing them. Unhelpful things to do are setting unrealistic goals, negative goals (i.e. I must lose weight as I’m so fat and gross) or thinking about all of the bad things that will happen if you don’t reach your goal.
So while I’m going to steer clear of setting “a new year’s resolution” as such, I will be reviewing the things I’d like to achieve this year, creating small steps towards getting there and then giving each of them a good, red hot go.
A very wise friend of mine said something to me recently which you may find useful too.
Each time you respond to a person or certain situation OR each time you go to do something (or avoid doing something… anyone a procrastinator?), you should ask yourself:
“Am I currently responding in a way that is towards my greater good?”
If the answer is no, then do something else. If the answer is yes, then carry on and give yourself a big, fat pat on the back for being such a legend!
Here’s to a happy and healthy 2011.
PS – For more info and tips on how to make 2011 your best year yet, check out other great articles at www.wellbeing.com.au, www.mindfood.com and www.farbeyondthestars.com/how-to-destroy-your-past-lives-starting-over