I used to hate the idea of New Year’s Resolutions. For years, I thought I was above waiting until January to get started on something important. But, knowing myself a little better now, I can see that without this kind of careful planning and fresh start mentality, most of projects would never get off the ground.
So I can’t help but recognize that January 1st is, as Coach Josh says, “the ultimate Monday.”
Last year, I created a list of goals organized by four categories: Personal, Professional, Physical, and Fun. I wrote out 5-10 goals per category, and then highlighted a most important goal in each. I ended up with almost 40 “goals”, some of which I accomplished and some which I did not. Here’s a sampling of that list from last year:
- film a motivational video
- read 25 books (DONE!)
- knock someone out (listed under “Professional goals” next to “speak in front of 1K+ people”)
- cut a check to a women’s shelter/ domestic violence-related cause (DONE! Donated $1,001 to PWCL)
- quit my “day” job (DONE!)
- get levels 1+2 TFW certifications (DONE!)
- do a one-arm pushup from the floor
- run a 5K (this was before Toepocalypse 2015)
- get a title fight with Invicta (see previous)
- write at least 3 guest posts (DONE!)
- take a real vacation and go overseas
- bench 200lbs (What was I thinking?! My 2015 PR ended up being 140lbs.)
- build a mastermind group
- And the list goes on and on…
This approach was thorough and enjoyable– and you could try it too– but ultimately, I feel like it failed for me. I had SO MANY GOALS that I probably couldn’t have named even one that I was working on at any given time over the last year. I had no focus! I had no plan for accomplishing these goals! And worst of all, when I succeeded it was only by accident– so positive outcomes were hard to replicate.
So this year, I set out to create new goals, but wanted them to be fewer and more focused. My initial list for 2016 looked like this:
- Meditate daily (try for 300+ Headspace sessions this year)
- Give at least three talks per month
- Set more deadlines
- Reach out to one person every week
- Pay off all debt (student loans + biz startup costs)
- Gratitude journaling every day
- Rehab my hips until I can lift heavy again with no pain
- Get an 806lb powerlifting total (squat + bench press+ deadlift)
- Be willing to be a beginner
- Post to the blog at least once a week
Now I was down to just 10 goals! Clearly, I was getting warmer. But there were still some holes to consider. Some goals lacked specificity and depth– “be willing to be a beginner” (a noble, but agonizingly pithy aspiration) and “set more deadlines” (um, how many more? for what? how?)– needed revision. Habits like paying off my debt, meditating, and powerlifting are already built into my lifestyle, and thus were struck from the list in order to save precious mental energy away for building new habits.
I kept tweaking that list until, in the end, I was left with just three major areas of focus (and a few “process goals” to accompany them)…
Physical: do the hip rehab workouts until I can lift heavy again with absolutely no pain
Mental: journal daily to identify negative thought patterns, and work to correct them
Schedule all tasks for each week on the preceding Sunday
Reach out to at least one person every day, and write one blog post every week
I chose these goals because they seemed scary, hard, and Absolutely Fucking Necessary. I highly recommend these metrics for goal-setting.
Scary is a vitally important aspect because the things I don’t WANT to do, are the things I HAVE to do. In my experience, if I feel a lot of resistance towards an undertaking… well, it’s probably a great idea for which I have some lame excuse about why it doesn’t apply to me. Have you ever caught yourself doing this?
For instance, a mentor of mine suggested that I schedule out all of my tasks for the week ahead of time, rather than just doing tasks from my to-do list in whatever order I felt and whenever I had time. This was EXCELLENT ADVICE. But I didn’t listen to her. I thought, “How can I commit to a system like that? What if I don’t finish something in the allotted time? What if something else comes up?” Obviously these excuses are rubbish though. They were just FEAR burping up from my subconscious. Zig Ziglar describes fear with the acrostic False Evidence Appear Real. And THAT is why my mentor’s kickass advice made it onto my very short list (in more than one spot!)
Hard was a required feature (as mentioned above with meditation/ powerlifting/ debt repayment) because if it isn’t hard, it will probably happen on it’s own. A goal that’s not hard is just another box to be checked on a to-do list, so that’s where it belongs. Hard-to-achieve goals are for the big leagues: New Year’s Resolutions!
And finally, my list only includes items that are Absolutely Fucking Necessary because if it can wait another year… then let it. Over and over again I have many times set out to do too much, and found that I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. If you are also prone to taking on too much, I urge you to at least consider prioritizing your list– and then cutting off all but the first 3-5 items.
I’m excited about my new resolutions around Organization, Connection, and Rehab. They make me nervous. If I were only looking at the past, I’d say that I probably won’t achieve most of them. Small as they may be, all of these resolutions are well outside of my comfort zone. But that’s the way I like it. I can’t wait to see where these bold new habits will take me in 2016.
Have you set some courageous New Year’s Resolutions that you’re psyched about? If so, leave a comment below. I’d love to hear them.
Bonus: If you’ve set a fitness or nutrition-related New Year’s Resolution, I have a event coming up on January 9th that can help you get a jump start on it! Get Fit in 2016: Small Steps to Your Biggest Results will feature a quick workout that you can repeat at home, a nutrition talk on ensuring long-term dietary success, and a badass fundraiser for the pup-tastic non-profit Project POOCH. Click here to learn more and register for your free ticket.