The No-Resolution Guide to Accomplishing What You Want
Have you heard the news? Most people abandon their New Year's resolution. This is probably not shocking news to most people! In fact, there is even "day" dedicated to this: January 17th is Ditch New Year's Resoltuion Day. But what if there were another way to make positive changes in your life?
After Christmas, I took my sister to the airport in Milwaukee. It was a dreary winter day with light mist and rain, and we had to drive for several hours. The temperature was supposed to stay in the above-freezing range. When we started out, it was 38 degrees. Thankfully, it stayed in the 36 - 38 degree range while we were traveling so the roads never got icy. I needed to get her to the airport so she could make her flight back home.
What a difference one or two degrees can make! But why the weather comparison when talking about New Year’s resolutions? Such small changes can have a significant impact on the weather, and it turns out that small changes can have a significant impact on your life.
In previous years, I (like many people) set resolutions that didn’t follow me into February - I abandoned gym memberships or diets or organization goals or other self-improvement plans. Then I ditched resolutions altogether and moved onto a word of the year. I would keep my word of the year near my desk. Focus, Motivated, Energetic were my words of choice through various years and were supposed to inform my intentions with how I spent my time. I’m not sure that the intention behind the word of the year lasted much longer than my resolutions! In 2019, I abandoned resolutions and words of the year and focused on ONE thing at a time, focused on the small habits that helped me accomplish the ONE thing (and yes, it involved waking up at a consistent time), repeated a powerful phrase that I learned from a book I read, and hired a business coach.
My January, February, and March were devoted to leading a retreat. I worked 1 - 2 hours most days of the week to accomplish all of the tasks associated with the retreat. June, July and August were devoted to helping my dad get his house ready to sell and actually sell. September and October were focused on learning my new job (and helping two of my children and my dad move). November and December were devoted to completing an online course that I had been thinking about for nearly a year.
The retreat involved dedicating an hour or two most days, and I either woke up early, worked during my lunch, or set aside time at night. The job search and helping my dad were carved into pockets of free time.
When I worked on creating my online course, I woke up at 5:30 most days, got completely ready for work, and then worked on the course for 30 - 45 minutes most days before work. I highly recommend this morning method for something you want to do! Creating the online course was something I had wanted to do for a long time and by working on it first thing in the morning, it was my signal that it was THE priority I wanted to accomplish that day. It was very rare that something would get in the way or that I would be tired at the end of the day, and I found myself extraordinarily excited to wake up to work on it.
In November, Marie Forleo launched her awesome book, Everything is Figureoutable, and the book title became my daily mantra to provide tan additional push I needed to finish my course. It turns out that finishing my course wasn’t only about small habits, but also became about taming negative self-talk. I also hired a business coach in December who helped hold me accountable for the remaining 10% I needed to do to finish the course. She has also become my guide for what is reasonable and possible to accomplish during a week's time. Sometimes the all-or-nothing mentality that showed up in my resolutions shows up in other projects.