3 Ways to Make Your New Years Resolutions, Goals & Outcomes Reality
Goals, Action, Outcomes, Getting Started in the New Year Can be tough.
I grew up in NZ and now live in Melbourne, Australia. For this end of the world, the Christmas and New Year period are our hottest days, full of social events, and businesses often close down for a few weeks over this period, making it a great time to get away, travel, be outdoors, have loads of late-night dinners, wine, catchups, overindulgence & more — much like the Europen mid-year summer vacation, or the July holidays in the US.
So New Years Resolutions down under? I’ve always felt perplexed about these. While I’ve been setting & achieving goals avidly since I was 19 years old, doing it on New Years Day didn’t really make sense, as I was often at the races with friends in Auckland, or at the beach, or literally on vacation off the grid at a beachside batch somewhere and wanted to invest that time away to relax, unwind, be mindful and live in the moment, rather than immediately charging forward.
What made much more sense was to do the dreaming part while on vacation: To create a shopping list of dreams and aspirations for the coming year, make a note of them, and get down to the planning, design, strategy and action — the making them real part — later in January when holidays were over and dusted. I don’t like setting myself up to fail, or to say I’ll achieve some goal without having a plan to get me there. To me, not designing the game plan for how to win the goal is just as unsexy as wandering around aimlessly.
“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Here are three simple strategies to manage procrastination, avoid failure, and turn your dreams, new years resolutions, goals, outcomes, aspirations and intentions into action.
That’s what we are trying to do after all — close the intention-action gap.
What is the Intention-Action Gap?
In simple terms, the intention-action gap refers to the difference between what people say they would like/plan to do and what they actually do. Often we plan to exercise more — especially after the festive period — but fail to do so. Or we plan an improved diet & to eat heathier, but don’t follow through with our intentions.
What can we do to close the gap, and get into action?
1. Make a one-time decision.
A one-time decision locks you into future decisions and gets you to take consistent action.
You’ve decided 2021 will be your year to get fit & healthy.
Maybe even get that hot dream body you’ve always wanted.
You think, yip, I’ll start by walking more. That’s realistic.
If you have a goal like walking more, a one-time decision you could make would be to adopt a dog.
A dog requires walking every day for a minimum of 10–15 minutes a day.
Some dogs? Much longer.
Many dogs? Require walking twice a day.
The simple act of deciding to adopt a dog will entirely change your daily walking and exercise habits for a good 10–15 years (hopefully).
Not down for a doggo at this point? But keen on exercise & fitness?
You could buy a Peloton bike. The sunk costs of $2k+ mean you’re likely to start using it, and according to the Peloton founder, there are very few people who don’t use them after purchase.
If a 10–15year doggo committment, or 2k is outside the budget right now, try a fitness app.
Peloton has 2-months free at the moment on their app.
I’m currently using: Move With Us, Action Jacqueline and in the past have enjoyed Les Mills On Demand and Sweat.
Pro tip: Schedule the workouts in your diary once you’ve signed up for the app each week, and schedule planning your workouts each Sunday for the following week—this also goes in the diary!
Ok, so how about eating healthier?
That also will move you toward your hot bod big time.
You could decide to eat better, learn new cooking skills, but a much easier approach would be a 1-time decision to sign up for a minimum month-long, healthy meal delivery service.
This will guarantee 2–3 days per week, maybe every day, that you will eat healthy meals, without thinking about it, without any decisions or thought.
My top choice hands down: My Muscle Chef.
A one-time decision locks you into future decisions and gets you to take action.
2. Get Strategic. Visualise Taking Action.
It turns out that we are not that strategic in terms of thinking through our goals when we set them.
So when you say something like —
I want to exercise more,
I want to eat healthier,
I want to lose 10kg, or
I want to meditate daily,
You are not planning out how you will do it, specifically.
Implementations Intentions are really about playing out the scenario of how you do something.
They are the: What, Where, When, How and Who.
They make it tactical, so you’ll know you’ll execute on your goal.
Start with these questions:
What new behaviour could you take to achieve this goal?
When will you do it? How will you fit it in hour already busy schedule?
Where will you do it?
What stuff do you need?
Who do you need to tell (aka who will this impact, whose help will you need etc?)?
Implementation is the process that turns strategies and plans into actions to accomplish strategic objectives and goals.
3. Tell Someone your Goal or Outcome
It is tough to achieve big things on your own.
In a professional context, when you have a big project, and it is due in a couple of months, do other people know about it? Or is it a secret?
Do you work on it as a team? Do you create a strategy to get there with deadlines, meetings, objectives? Do you talk about it?
Do you get help?
Do a lot of other people know about this goal too?
Model what you already do in a professional context.
Talk about your goals and outcomes.
Not only that, ask your support network to ask you about how it’s going.
Get other people involved in your goals.
You’re far more likely to achieve them with support.