We’ve all been there. The new year rolls around and we have an enormous amount of ambition. There are so many things we are looking forward to, but as the months start going by, we start to focus on errands and forget our large, long term goals. Slowly but surely, you start to forget what you set out to do at the beginning of the year. Why does that happen and what can we do about it?
Why we lose Sight of our Goals so Easily
The number one factor in why we end up derailed is the failure to plan. Having some sort of a plan and a starting point is vital. The plan has to be easy to execute and very low intensity, low enough to maintain consistently.
Another big reason is record keeping. If you’ve ever lived with a child, you know first hand that you don’t really “see” them growing, it’s just something you look back on after a few months and say “wow, you’ve gotten taller!. That’s because children grow at a slow, BUT consistent rate. That’s how you have to treat progress. Tracking your progress in anything you do is vital. A scale for weight, viewers/subscribers on your youtube channel, followers on a blog, weight/reps at the gym, etc. Tracking progress is encouraging and motivating.
The last problem is prioritizing. Most people have a hard time prioritizing their urgent and important tasks in life. Interruptions and distractions are the enemy of progress. The more you limit your distractions and interruptions, the more progress (or potential progress) you’ll will be making towards your goals. Try to step away from your phone or turn off notifications on it when you’re working. If you’re in a distracting place, go to Starbucks or somewhere you can work that doesn’t require you to divide your attention.
Just remember, when it comes to prioritizing, don’t just focus on the urgent stuff. If you’re stuck jumping from one emergency to another, you’ll never get to the goals that take time to build long term.
Keep it Simple by Applying one small Change at a Time
The best way to start your New Year’s Resolution and keep it consistent is by starting simple. This sounds like such a basic idea, but it’s a very powerful tool. Often times, people tend to do too much at once. Try applying the smallest amount of effort at first. When you apply a small amount of effort, the task doesn’t seem daunting at all.
Let’s say for example you want to start eating healthier for the new year. You can start by just cutting out soda or soft drinks in general. It’s small, but it’s something you can maintain. After you’re comfortable avoiding soft drinks, you can try working on one meal at a time. How about breakfast? Find a simple recipe or two to cook for breakfast or a place to eat at in the morning with healthy, but appetizing options. Once breakfast becomes routine, you can move on to the next meal and so on.
Your job is to develop a healthy habit. It’s not to develop a healthy habit in record time or without any mistakes. This isn’t a race and no one is giving you a report card. Do yourself a favor and just focus on the process, not the results. If you focus on the process alone, the results will naturally follow.
Avoid Excess Preparation
One of the oldest problems in the book is waiting for perfect timing. You have to find the right gym or you need to buy all the ingredients before you start your new diet. Relax and just start. As long as you start, you can adjust all of the other stuff along the way and it’s easier to do so. The best way to know what you need is to run into a problem ALONG the way that will force you to adjust for the better.
I’ll use eating healthy as an example again. Let’s say you’re looking for the right recipes or the perfect cookware before you start. Chances are, you’ll waste a lot of time doing all that research, lose interest and get distracted by other stuff over time. You’ll visit the idea periodically and tell your friends “I’m going on a diet, but I’m just getting everything ready!” Unfortunately, you’ll never be completely ready. If you start your diet with very simple recipes (breakfast recipes are usually the easiest) and work your way up, you’ll LEARN what cookware and ingredients you need along the way.
The term “paralysis in analysis” couldn’t be anymore true. Just use the first tip and begin with a very simple concept to execute, then just do it. Don’t wait for any prep time. You’ll know what you need along the way and THEN you can adjust according.
Keep Track of your Progress
Whether it’s by weighing yourself for a weight loss goal or it’s by keeping track of your stats as you practice a sport, keeping records is important. When I go to the gym, I measure a few things for my workout. I record the exercise, the amount of weight that I am lifting, and how long I can go before failing (reps or timer). The reason why these measurements are so important to me is because I can see the progress that I’m making. If I can do the same weight, but for more reps or a longer time, then that means I am getting stronger and it’s time to up the weight. If I’m not, then it means I have to change something. I have to get more sleep, more rest or eat more protein.
The same goes for other areas. If you’re starting a youtube channel. Keep track of how many new subscribers you’re getting, which videos are getting the most views and what your demographics are like. This can give you valuable feedback on what you need to adjust along the way. Maybe you need to move your channel in a slightly new direction or perhaps certain videos are bringing you the most subscribers.
Keeping track of your progress can complement the previous tool of avoiding excess preparation by allowing you to start, track and adjust along the way. Without tracking, you’d hit a plateau, not know what happened and fall off.
Whenever you fall off, just go even Simpler
If you find yourself having a hard time keeping up with your new goal or habit, just be patient and try to make it even simpler. When I was trying to develop the habit of reading everyday, I promised myself I’ll read one page a day. Even THAT didn’t work! I then moved to reading for one minute a day. That’s how simple I had to get in order to accomplish my reading goal. It worked and I began to eventually ignore the one minute and carry on my reading.
Once something becomes a habit, it usually sticks. Do anything in your power, even if it’s as little as possible just to start and do it consistently. I promise, it’ll always get better AND easier over time no matter how little of it you did to start with!