Do you find yourself in that same new year’s resolution cycle every year? Things feel fresh, you’ve made your resolutions, and you’re excited for the new year! But, a few weeks or a few months later, you still haven’t filled out your business canvas, begun your search for a co-founder, or even started to floss.  Time to change your thinking and make healthy habits instead or resolutions.  

Demotivation sets in, you get down on yourself, and your resolutions seem like pipe dreams that are further away than ever before. With a new year comes new habits, new goals, and especially new challenges. Making decisions is an important first step, but executing them is the biggest hurdle you’ll face. In order to make this new year a successful one, you need to approach change in the right way.  Here are some strategies that we think are the most effective.

Photo Credit: Aneta Pawlik
Photo Credit: Aneta Pawlik

Be SMART

You’ve probably seen or used this system before in a work-related setting but how about adapting it for your own life? SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Organize your new habits with this framework and if your goal is particularly large and requires multiple steps, break them down into smaller ones.

Specific: Your goal should be clear and specific. Do not be ambiguous. Answer the five W’s of Who, What, Where, When, and Why to further clarify and define your resolution.

  • Who is involved?
  • What are you doing?
  • Where are you going to achieve this?
  • When are you going to do it?
  • Why are you doing this?

Measurable: You need to be able to measure and track your progress towards your goals. If your changes involve number targets, use them. If your goals are more qualitative, define what evidence or behaviour you need to see to know that you’ve achieved your desired outcome.

Achievable: It has to be realistic. Ambition is great but overly ambitious changes to your habits can be your downfall. Whatever your goal is, make sure that it’s achievable because you’re only going to set yourself up for disappointment if it’s not. Ask yourself how you can accomplish your goal? If you can’t answer that question then your resolution is probably unrealistic.

Relevant: This is the Why question that you answered earlier. Why is this goal relevant to you? Does it align with other relevant goals in your life? If not, then this change may not be the best one to tackle right now.

Time-bound: This is the when of the five W’s. Your new habit is specific, measurable, achievable, and relevant. Now make it a product of time. Set up specific milestones and deadlines with specific dates to get you towards your goal.

Make a plan

Strategize. Attack these changes as if it’s something to conquer. The SMART system is just one way of making a plan. There are other planning methods that might suit you better. If you want to make good on developing new habits, make a plan.

Photo Credit: Aneta Pawlik
Photo Credit: Aneta Pawlik

Tell someone about it

Whether this is the first step or the last step, make sure at some point that you tell at least one person about your goals. The more people you tell, the better. It makes what you want to achieve more real when you tell somebody about it. If you can, recruit the people you tell into a support system. Build a team around you to help you when you fall down. Your goals are yours but nobody said you had to do them alone.

Be kind to yourself

We’re not always the ideal version of ourselves as much as we try to be and that’s okay. Nobody likes to fail, however, failure is how you learn. You learn about what went wrong, how it went wrong, and what you can do better next time. Re-frame your setbacks and failures as learning opportunities. These events don’t define you, but how you react to them will. So, cut yourself some slack, dust yourself off, and keep at it.

Just do it! And celebrate!

You’ve made your plan and you’ve told anyone under the sun who was willing to lend an ear. Now’s the time to execute. You’ve already thought about what you need to do so don’t overthink it. Just go out there and do it. When you’re one step closer to your goal, celebrate! It’s important to recognize your achievements so make a point of doing so. What are you waiting for? The new year’s already started.