It’s finally 2021! After enduring 2020, we have never been happier to welcome a new year. A pandemic, quarantining and isolation –amongst endless other challenges– have caused extra introspection over recent months. While looking ahead into a brighter future, we’re re-thinking our resolution strategy. This year, it’s all about quality over quantity, and a recognition that small, incremental changes can be most beneficial. If you hit snooze today 4 times or missed your morning workout, know that it’s OKAY! Before feeling too down on yourself for not keeping up, remember that you’re not alone and that there is plenty of time to get your goals in check. There are quite a few reasons why 80% of resolutions fail by February, but there are just as many ways to re-route and refocus your energy toward the positive changes you’re after.
Let’s break it down…
Step One: Understand WHY Your resolutions feel unattainable
Think about it for a minute ー there is no right or wrong answer, and you don’t even have to tell anyone. Just be honest with yourself and look within to identify why your resolutions have been unattainable so far this year.
Did you bite off more than you could chew?
Did you set a vague resolution?
Did you choose a resolution you’ve never been able to keep in the past?
Did you choose netflix over taking action?
Did discouragement take over your mindset?
If “yes” is your answer to any of the questions above, you’re ready for step two:
Step Two: Re-imagine your resolutions
It’s time to zero in on your resolutions and the larger goals they’re intended to serve. This time, do it through a clear lens and identify the smaller actions needed to really get there ー enter the mircoresolution! If you’re diving into semantics here, stop right now! While using a prefix like micro, you might infer this to mean you’re making your resolutions smaller ー and while in comparison to a lofty, vague and unattainable concept, you are, the purpose of going micro is to distill your goal into more attainable components. These smaller pieces will ultimately serve your bigger, overarching goal(s). Consider going micro a way to draw a road map you can really hold yourself accountable to.
How exactly are you supposed to plot your course?
Step Three: Take action!
Consider the following key words and actions to help you refine your resolutions, and make active moves toward achieving them:
Our favorite word, clarity, is also an essential component of declaring a resolution or setting any kind of goal for that matter. The more specific you can be, the better. Is your resolution concise and clear? Or is it a big, vague idea or theme that challenges your ability to take action due to its magnitude?
Take action: If your resolution lacks specificity, drill down on it to find its purest form. From there, you can outline steps to actually attain that larger goal through concrete actions. For example, instead of simply “Get a New Job in 2021”, imagine what a road map will look like to get there, and write down the micro-steps to get on the road, such as: Update my resume! Email that recruiter back and set up that call! Create a list of target companies to research! Email your former co-worker who works at one and invite them for coffee (virtual coffee dates are perfectly acceptable… and easier for many in our new normal anyway.)! Submit your resume to Clarity! The list goes on…
Eliminate Negative Language
Negative language impacts our behavior and treatment of ourselves. Have you phrased your resolution using negative words, such as, don’t or stop [insert bad habit here]? Consider changing your action to something positive and proactive that will help you eliminate the behaviors you’re zeroing in on and would like to change. As is true in many areas of life, it’s not always about what you say, it’s how you say it that drives results.
Take action: Say it out loud to yourself in the mirror! Reciting your resolution should feel inspiring, affirming and encouraging ー like something you can do, and want to do. It shouldn’t feel like a scolding, or cause you to devalue your self-worth. Instead of “Stop being lazy and hitting snooze so many times”, try, “Set alarm 20 minutes earlier in the morning to make extra time in the morning for [insert act of self care].”
Make sure your resolutions are actually something you can take action toward, and you alone. If your goals depend on or include the actions of others, you’re no longer in control of the outcome. If your goal pertains to outcomes you’d like to see at work, in your personal life, or with your friends and family, don’t pin it on the other people or variables that are constantly changing.
Take action: Pin it on yourself, and define what you can do to optimize your relationships and encourage behavior you’d like to see in others. Seeking a promotion? Instead of simply resolving to, “Get the promotion I know I’ve earned”, think about how to proactively encourage the topic. Not enough face time with your manager? Start by scheduling a check-in meeting or review ー you don’t need to wait for your manager to arrange an annual if you have something important on your mind.
Lastly, it’s important to remember that while January and February are peak resolution season for many people, thinking about the micro steps needed to be your best self should be part of a daily routine, all year round. Going micro will make it easier to visualize your goals too, so don’t be afraid to write them down! Comparing yourself to other people crushing their fitness goals, somehow landing a dream job during the pandemic, curating a dreamy new home -or home office!- on instagram or hitting their bucket list of dream projects won’t help you achieve yours.
Your health, community –digital community counts!– and the internet connection enabling you to read this are all things you can practice gratitude for. Recognize the growth you’ve experienced this past year. The greatest strength comes from testing your endurance until you are able to surpass previous limits. Sometimes this happens without psychological awareness that you’ve broken a new barrier. Know that over the past year, you have. Yes, you.
Take Action: Everyone reading this has achieved something simply by enduring the past year they never could have imagined as possible in our lifetime. Take a moment express gratitude for your own personal journey and resilience. Recognizing where you stand can lay the groundwork for where you want to go this year. Taking time out of your morning, a mid-day break, or implementing a bedtime ritual to reflect on what you are thankful and grateful for is a healing practice. Taking time to express gratitude can help you see the forest through the trees, even on the darkest days.
If you follow the above recommendations, your list of micro-resolutions can start to stack up. Taking action can be a powerful antidote to stress, hopelessness and anxiety in many cases. Take control of your goals and resolutions today by taking one micro-step at a time. Let us know how it goes!