Before going deep into goals for next year that you can never achieve and will 100% fall apart in the first few weeks, just take a deep breath. Let go. Now take another one. Now let go.
Only 8% of Americans are successful in keeping their new year resolutions. That is a massive failure. I understand that the new year works as a new slate for everyone. A hope to start something new, on a new calendar.
The problem with using the new year as a clean slate is that it comes and falls exactly after holidays. And holidays bring tons of inertia. And you need a larger force to move from that position of inertia. And of course, when you are drunk on a new year’s eve, it is extremely hard to get yourself to the next level of commitment. It just does not work that way.
Now if you just say, I want to do XYZ this year and be good at it, chances are likely you are going to fail.
Keeping SMART goals might help but what I want for you is to take it to the next level and live through the success of your goals, be it fitness, mental health, life changes or a new business.
Let me explain.
The first step to achieving goals is to reflect on your life like you have never done before. (I wanted to use swear words here to make an impact, but I don’t feel comfortable so just insert your choice of words, ok?)
What? Why Reflect? I don’t even want to think about 2016. Please make it go away already!
Trust me! I know this feeling. I have the same feeling about this year. I want it to go away so bad that I don’t want to live in another 2016 ever again and chances of that are, thank God, almost 100% unlikely.
But if you don’t want another 2016, you do have to think about what made it so bad. So bad that you want to run away from your beautiful life? So bad that you want to just (add more choice words, if you want) quit everything, change your name and country and live a new life.
But, before taking these drastic steps against 2016, calm down once again. Breathe and let go!
I want to tell you about a book that I read 11 years ago to impress my now husband and then boyfriend. It is called the HitchHiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. It is a story about a regular person named Arthur Dent who is taken for a ride in the Universe by his alien friend Ford upon the destruction of our planet Earth. In that book, there is a part where the most intelligent creatures on a planet called Magrathea create the greatest computer called Deep Thought in the universe. Deep Thought is given the task of answering the ultimate question to life, the universe and everything. And after spending millions of years calculating, the answer the computer comes up with is 42.
And when everyone is outraged by this answer, Deep Thought says the question that was asked was not perfect, and he is going to create a new computer that asks the right ultimate question of the life, universe, and everything.
Now, what I want to tell you from this story is that if we don’t ask ourselves the right questions before we make resolutions and goals, we may never arrive at the answers we are looking for. We will spend lots of years trying to be healthy, trying to start our business or trying to look beautiful but if we don’t ask ourselves our reasons for these short or large quests, we will be running around in circles and not completing our goals.
So if a reflection is a must, what should we ask in our reflection exercise?
I cannot post a ton of questions in this article as it will become long and boring but let me give you a little more fun from the book (I had 42 questions prepared, get it 42!). This is getting very nerdy, I know, but it will make sense, I promise!
Arthur Dent, the earthman from the Hitchhiker’s Guide To Galaxy, is just a normal guy going about his day to day life, not taking many risks, sometimes not remembering days because he drank too much and is at a point where his house is going to be taken away from him by the government who plans to build a bypass through it.
His alien friend, on the other hand, knows where his towel is. (Another “catchy phrase” from the book). What that implies is the alien friend knows what is going on in the universe, he knows what steps to take next.
So back to reflection. We need to know if we want to be the guy who knows where his towel is or the guy who hangs out accidentally with a guy who knows where his towel is or someone who on purpose hangs out with people who know where their towels are.
Once you know where you are and where you want to go and who to hang out with to go there, it is half the battle won. If you are by accident, with a guy who happens to know all answers, you are plain lucky. But how many people are really lucky in this world who are in the right place at the right time. Not many. Most of them who seem to be lucky are planning and plowing their way to success by calculating their next steps.
So promise me one thing. Before you make your big resolutions this year or set any goals in life, first just reflect on where you are. Then build a dreamy picture of where you want to be. And create your map of goals. Don’t look at other people and just say I want to be healthy this year. Instead, map out reasons for being healthy, identify a friend that you think you want to emulate and start hanging out with them instead of other friends who will pull you away from your goals.
Don’t look at successful people and say I want wealth just like them. Look inside of you, your capabilities, your current conditions and then purposefully ask the right questions to get meaningful answers that will help you set and succeed in the best goals you ever kept.
Now, I am hoping that you are still here with me and not bored to death with the nerdiness. Once you have answers to these questions, you will have a clear and realistic view of your life, your abilities, and your interests. When you have a clear vision of your life, it easier to make goals that are in line with your abilities.
We can all get excited with someone else and make goals and be happy but far more than often, it is our enthusiasm that brings us down because we did not think through before we said yes to something that we were not in line with.
I guarantee you will succeed because you would have found yours why. You would have found the biggest reason to succeed. You would have found the unique answer to your life from your computations.
Try it, and let me know in comments what you found out about yourself and what will your 2017 be looking like.
I am waiting eagerly.