How do you feel this morning? Are you still as enthused and as energized as you were January 1st? (Or maybe January 2nd or 3rd depending on how you spent New Year’s Eve.) Most people hit the gym or work with a new sense of purpose on Monday the 4th. A new sense of purpose that was fueled by resolutions to do better or achieve more in 2016 but, what makes this any different than 2015 or 2014 or even 1999? You probably started those years with the same level of optimism and desires, but by the end of March, that year looked no different than the year before.
Being inspired to do better is the easy part. Envisioning the “new you“ is very satisfying and makes you feel happy, self-satisfied and inspired. In a sense it is a very spiritual and uplifting feeling of being unburdened by your past habits and behaviors. Sadly, however, that feeling will be short lived for most people as they slowly get sucked back into their old ways. Why? Mostly because they weren’t prepared. They may have a vision but they failed to plan their actions or develop a plan that would alter their behavior in a positive way.
If you want to maintain that happy shiny feeling throughout 2016 you need to do these 5 things:
1. Create a Vision of yourself or your life as the new you. If you can’t see it, you can’t be it. This is your chance to dream and ask yourself; where do I want to live? How do I want to look and feel like physically? What do I want from my relationships with family, friends or my partner? It’s your dream so go ahead and imagine your happiness.
2. Set meaningful goals using the WHY SMART formula. These are goals that are Written, are Harmonious with one another and with your life, and they are Yours – not someone else’s goal for you or what you think someone else expects. These are your goals and they must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bound.
3. Put your goals in Writing. There are few things more powerful than writing down your goals. It is a commitment and you own it. Studies have shown that those who write down their goals achieve significantly more than those who do not have written goals so, go ahead and write them down and then put them in a place where you see them and are reminded of them throughout your day. Or, better yet, share them with someone in your life who is non-judgmental like a personal trainer, a life coach or mentor.
4. Set benchmarks. This goes hand in hand with your WHY SMART goals - they are time-bound but they are really the actions you are going to take along the way to achieve your vision. Benchmarks, on the other hand, are the mile markers along the way that recognize the progress that you are making. So for instance, if your goal was to lose 20 lbs. in 5 months you might break that down into 4 lbs. per month, or even a pound a week.
5. Maintain a positive attitude. Attitude is everything – it is the secret sauce to success, if you will. There will be any number of things along the way that can sway you from your new behaviors. Deadlines at work, unexpected business trips, family emergencies are just a few, but you must realize these distractions are normal. They are not unusual circumstances that allow you to set your dreams aside. Yes, there will be some backsliding – 2 pounds gained instead of a pound lost – but you must maintain a positive attitude that you will achieve your goals. Be assured that the same positive attitude will go a long way in getting you through all of life challenges. And, don’t forget to celebrate success. Reward yourself for achieving your benchmarks and let them be a reminder of your greater vision. Achieving a vision can be hard work at times but celebrating your small wins along the way will keep you motivated and determined to reach the next benchmark.
It is never too late to start taking charge of your life, and there is no time like the present to create your vision, commit it to paper and begin your journey to the new you.