It’s February, and many of my New Year’s resolutions have already failed.
We are already one month into 2021. Many of us have high expectations of what January and the remaining months of this year will bring. To say 2020 was a challenging year in our lives’ professional and personal aspects is an understatement. We have heard stories or experienced being separated from families, losing jobs, or even loved ones. These circumstances hit us hard! I am sure I am not the only one who is quietly questioning; can 2021 be worse?
January is the month of setting up many projects, goals, and resolutions. February is the month when we see many of those resolutions crumble. Abandoning a project or a plan can be emotionally devastating, even more, when the expectations were so high.
Personally, I am careful to start out my new year with reflection and planning, but not necessarily “resolutions” for the new year. Many seize the New Year to renew their personal and professional projects. For that reason, I would like to help you stay on the path of success and accomplish what you have planned for 2021.
Today, we will reflect on how to make resolutions last and achieving them
Here are three thoughts to provoke you, two ideas to inspire you, and one item to act on!
Three Thoughts to Provoke
Number One. Failed Resolutions
At the end of the past year, I heard many of my colleagues talk about their resolutions. The whole subject made me curious because many fail at them. According to Michael Hyatt, one of my favorite leadership and productivity specialist, 92% of New Year’s resolutions fail. Wow!
Why do resolutions fail at such an alarming rate?
What does the word resolution mean?
Many of us see the word and think of the American Heritage Dictionary definition.
Ugh! For me, that definition reeks of negativity. The word feels heavy, demanding. If we do not accomplish one day or one step, we have FAILED. Shame creeps into our mindset. We push harder but still do not achieve another step. After a few failed attempts, we give up.
If you cannot tell, I am not too keen on setting a whole set of resolutions for the new year. Why? I have a better approach that works for me and gives significant results.
“The state or quality of being resolute; firm determination.”
The new year resolution approach tends to overwhelm us. We suddenly have these projects to tackle. Suddenly, we are faced with a monstrous workload. Things fall through the cracks. We realize we have bitten off more than we can chew.
We can think of a new year as a marathon. If we start sprinting the first 2 miles, we will not have enough energy for the remaining 24 miles. To complete the run and the goals set for an entire year, we need to plan by stages, use our energy steadily, track our progress, and reach the finish line, achieving what we planned.
Number Two. Change Approach.
The best approach is to plan and prioritize.
I focus on 90-day planning. I also streamline and only focus on 2-3 projects for the quarter. Occasionally, I will have one project with a year-long end goal, but I chunk it into a 90-day planning cycle. The projects are then broken down into tasks. I reverse engineer the end goal in my planning.
It is better to tackle two projects for each quarter of the year, with the right amount of effort and energy. Too many tasks to focus on at one time leads to burnout. Just like too many cooks spoil the broth! Brendon Burchard, a successful motivational author, has been one of the thought leaders on the 90-day approach. Michael Hyatt also incorporates this 90-day planning mindset into his Full Focus Planner.
Number Three. Review Motivation.
When people talk about their new year’s resolutions, the common topic is the “what,” as in “What is your resolution?” “What will you do for 2021?” but it’s rare enough to find people talking about their “why.”
Reviewing your motivation is looking at what you want to accomplish and asking yourself why you need that. This also helps you put your goals into perspective and prioritize which project is more meaningful for you and deserves more effort. Analyze your goals and projects. Do you know your why? If you do ground it on intention, you will be motivated to succeed.
Two Things to Inspire
Number One. Living with constant change.
As the Chaos Whisperer, my way of living is by adapting, embracing, and overcoming chaos. The world around us changes constantly.
Richie Norton, motivator, and author, once said
“Most people will passively do exactly what they did last year. Whatever you do, don’t let that person be you.”
It is common to repeat the pattern of being motivated about the start of a new year, trying to execute many things, and then ruminating over perceived failure. Are you passively repeating this pattern in 2021? If so, feel free to change and do something different.
If you feel your plan is already failing, start focusing on the 2nd quarter. How can you break your goals for the year into a workable action plan for April? What do you need to do now to make April succeed?
Number Two. Do not be so hard with yourself.
If you have been following my posts for any length of time, you KNOW I love to give credit where credit is due. I am not a fan of sharing anonymous thoughts. Nevertheless, as I was researching to write this post, this sentence by Umar Ign al-Khattab caught my eye and kept ringing in my mind:
“No amount of guilt can change the past, and no amount of anxiety can change the future.”
Read it several times and let it sink in. “No amount of guilt can change the past, and no amount of anxiety can change the future.”
Do an after-action review. See where the breakdown occurred, and then move on!
One of my favorite mottos is “Turn your breakdown into a breakthrough!”.
Your Action Item
If your resolutions are failing now, don’t panic. It’s not the end.
We waste time and energy with fear of failure. Are you feeling the stress and the anxiety?
Do not ignore it! Take a step back and breath. Acknowledge your frustration.
Now pivot that anxiety into action. Sit down with your calendar, a blank sheet of paper, or for us, digital nerds, our iPad. Sketch out the next steps and let the anxiety dissipate into relief.
You have this!