I love new beginnings. Most people are sad when the holidays are over, but (minus the hangover) January first is my favorite day of the year. I absolutely love writing resolutions, and I actually keep them in mind all year long. This wasn’t always the case - I used to write lofty goals that sounded great but weren’t that meaningful to me personally. I would write down things like “run a marathon” even though I don’t enjoy running beyond an easy jog on the beach and there was no real purpose to this goal other than checking it off some list. The meaning behind running a marathon was actually to stretch myself physically, but the method I chose was wrong for me. I’ve since changed my approach and choose only resolutions that will help me move forward in a meaningful way or habitual goals that are smaller but will help improve my life. If you couldn't tell, I am lil' bit Type-A and the way I write goals is by the SMART method (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely). I’ll go over that method later.
First, let's touch on the stress resolutions sometimes make us feel
Yesterday I heard something on Maria TV that resonated deeply with me. As much as I love goal setting and thinking about the future, sometimes it also stresses me out. I begin to look at other bloggers, other photographers, other trainers and I obsess over the gap between me and them. I want to be where they are now, and it’s hard to accept the work that lies ahead. Maria Forleo (who is one of my favorite vloggers) went on to explain that wellbeing is based on a certain degree of tension between who you are today and who you want to become. Instead of feeling like a failure, embrace this gap as a statement on your drive and let that tension fuel your success. I really like this perspective.
Resolutions - Method One
My first resolution method is to choose a word or theme, then put it in a place you will see every day. This method is really great for anyone who gets stressed out by a long list of to-dos. The idea behind this method is that your theme, with constant reminding, can serve as an inspiration to move your life in a positive direction.
Last year, at the start of 2016, I was on the brink of heading back into tech. Working in fitness was simply not pulling in the money I needed, but the idea of leaving my dream was tearing my heart in half. I was crying weekly and felt like a failure. I was working so hard, but barely scraping by financially. As I was thinking about my goals, I chose a word to help me move forward: Hustle. Hustle was my theme, and every day I truly did hustle. I went from teaching group fitness and taking photography for my personal blog only to finding private clients that paid 4x my group rate and working for companies that actually paid me for my photography. I reached out to clients and companies hourly, and I got told no a lot. But some stuck. And then all of a sudden enough said yes that I was making good money doing what I love. Having 6 AM and 8 PM clients plus focusing to get photography done during daylight hours, every single day was exhausting; but I kept my word hustle in mind and I made it through. I’ve found more balance now and fortunately the threat of returning to my 9-5 is long gone.
I’m going to use this resolution method again for 2017. Last year I was running around all day, every day, making money wherever I could. Normally running around and being unmethodical with my work would stress me the fuck out, but I had that word in my mind and I knew (for now) being a chicken with its head cut off was all good. This year, though, I have deeper projects that I want to work on, which will require me to pull back from that hustle and start focusing more. I'm going to pull back slightly working for others (and maybe watch a little less TV). I'll use that extra time to work on a few big personal projects (more on that later in 2017). This year my word is focus. What does your life need right now? Adventure, love, balance, spirituality? There are so many themes to choose from, but it has to matter to you.
Resolutions - Method Two
I haven’t lost my love for specific goal setting. In addition to my theming, I like to set a few goals that are really meaningful to me. I've laid out this method step by step.
Step 1: Brainstorm freely, then get choosy. First, choose goal categories. Think back over the past year and what you are proud of and where you'd like to grow. (Category Examples: Career, Spirituality, Health, Relationships, Finances, etc). Next, write down anything and everything that sounds good in each category. Don't have any filter in this phase. During the "brainstorm freely" phase I usually start with about a million things to accomplish in each category. Pause after this step, even for a few days, and let all of your ideas roll around your mind a bit.
Next, get choosy. Go through every item and ask “is this truly meaningful to me personally, or does it just sound good?” Typically this question narrows the list down to 5-10 goals total.
Step 2: Get specific. Once I have my 5-10 items (fewer is better people), I write them out in a very specific way. Let’s start with my Relationship category as an example. Alex and I were really good at finding new date spots in San Francisco and making it a weekly or bi-weekly effort. Since we’ve moved to LA work has been such a huge focus for both of us, it just hasn’t happened as often. We’ve also literally been at a wedding every weekend and have not explored our new city properly, so I’m kind of combining the two in my relationship goal:
Goal: Have more date nights and explore LA together
Measurement: Schedule one date each month, each in a new neighborhood of LA.
If I just ended with the “goal” portion of my resolution, it would be hard to know exactly how to accomplish it. It’s too general! When your measurement for success is unclear, you will likely get frustrated, bored, and forget the goal altogether. The measurement piece requires specificity.
Step 3: Accountability. For this goal, I’m simply scheduling a time each month to remind me to come up with a fun date - simple! I'll get a calendar reminder and my inability to archive the email until it's done will force inbox-zero me to do it. For a more complex goal, like say…writing a book, you’ll need to break down the goal into small, achievable steps, and put a timeframe on each step. I’m a huge fan of using your calendar as an accountability buddy if you don’t have a business partner, coach, or friend to hold you to your word. If your loftier goal feels overwhelming to break down into steps initially, then just schedule time blocks to ensure forward movement. Example: If your goal is to write a book, but you have no idea how to break it down, make your action item to write for one hour every day. There’s no pressure to accomplish something specific, just to write. It’s possible that after writing for one hour daily for a few weeks you may gain more clarity on how to create more specific achievable steps.
Step 4: Post it! Once you have your specific goals and accountability method set, print out your plan. Put it somewhere where you will read it daily.
Happy resolution setting! Let me know if either of these methods resonate with you and what you’re setting out to do in 2017.