New Years

5 Steps To Turn Your Resolution Into Reality

Today, we’re getting down to business.

Fair warning: If you want me to validate that you can keep doing the same thing and that 2017 will magically bring you new results due to some cosmic alignment finally working out in your favor, this is not the post for you.

If, however, you really want to make a change and are willing to risk trying something new, then I urge you to read on.

But first, if you haven’t checked out Part 1 of this 2 Part Series on New Year’s Resolutions, I highly recommend you stop and read “How To Reflect & Select Your New Year’s Resolution.” Not only because Part 1 comes before Part 2 (duh!), but also because the warm, fuzzy, spiritual, half of me wrote that post and she is notably absent from this post. Why?

Because today, we’re turning all your introspective work from last week into an actionable, tangible, goal for 2017 that you can (and will!) achieve. I tested out this exact methodology on myself and of the 10 outcomes I wanted to achieve in 2016, I accomplished 9. Not too shabby! So, let’s jump in:

Ever wonder why most New Year’s resolutions fall apart in the first 3 weeks? No, it’s not your willpower or because “life got in the way,” it’s because a vague goal leads to vague actions which leads to…you guessed it: vague results! We avoid setting real goals and instead make resolutions like, “I want to get healthy” so we don't have to be held accountable to what we truly want. Sounds harsh, but it's true. And trust me, I get how terrifying it is! An undefined intention means we don’t have to feel like a failure when it doesn’t happen. And while it keeps us safe, it also keeps us stuck.

If you’ve typically set resolutions that are dreams and not goals, you’re not alone. I see this with my clients all the time. A busy mom recently told me her goal is "to create more work-life balance.” And while that sounds great, it isn’t clear what actions she'll take or how she’ll even know when she achieves it. You may have heard of SMART goals before (the acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound), but chances are that if you’re creating resolutions or setting goals, they aren’t hitting each point.

Here’s how to define your goal and make it happen:

(BTW, I’ve included a worksheet you can use to implement the steps I outline below. Bonus: It includes my go-to strategy to maintain motivation when the couch calls my name. Download it here.)

1. Select the Specific thing you want to achieve.

Your goal should clearly define what you’re going to do. It should outline what you’ll achieve and how you'll get there. Be sure to include the exact steps you’ll take.

Example. Instead of “I want more work-life balance,” try “I will take daily action to create more balance by prioritizing self-care in the form of: Meditating for 10 min each day, action #2, action #3, etc.”

2. Make it Measurable.

Here’s where most people get tripped up. Not only does your overall goal need to be quantified, but so does each action step. This will help you to take feasible steps, maintain motivation, build momentum, and tell you exactly how much progress you’ve made toward your goal. 

To make actions measurable, be precise:

Example. Instead of saying “I’ll leave work at work,” try “On weekdays, I won’t check my email past 8 pm. On weekends, I will only check it once per day.”

To make your overall goal measurable, define your starting point:

Measure how many actions you currently take toward your goal and compare it to the number of actions at the end of your goal. Or, rate your ability/level of success on a scale of 1-10 now and at the end of your goal.

Example. If you exercise once per week, instead of saying “I’ll work out more,” try “I will go to the gym 3 times per week for 45-60 minutes.”

3. You only Attain what you act on.

An attainable goal is not dependent on others, your circumstances, or winning the lottery. In our work-life balance example, a poor indicator of success would be the amount of work assigned to you. While that relates to your goal, you can’t control what your boss tells you to do. You can, however, change how you respond.

Example. “When I’m assigned a new task at work, I will communicate with my boss about due dates, project priorities, what’s currently on my plate, and what can be delegated.”

Goals should be achievable. They should stretch you slightly so you feel challenged, but still be within your grasp. A common mistake I see clients make is trying to break goals into smaller pieces in an effort to make them more attainable. This is a slippery slope. For example, while saying you want to lose 5 lbs in 1 month is more realistic than losing 10 lbs., you can’t control your metabolism. Instead, focus on the action steps that promote you achieving your goal.

Example. “I will take daily action to increase my self-care by drinking 8 glasses of water each day, action #2, action #3, etc.”

The goal is not about the outcome, it’s about your ability to take consistent action toward that outcome.

4. Relevant, not random.

EVERY action step needs to be directly related to your goal. Don’t throw random “nice-to-haves” in there. For example, I had a client whose goal was centered around finding a new job. In her inspired and motivated goal-setting state, she wanted to add an action step of 20 minutes of yoga per day. While some may argue that yoga is great for everything, it’s not directly related and, thus, doesn’t belong in her goal. When selecting relevant action steps, ask yourself, “does this action directly impact my ability to achieve this goal?” If it doesn’t get you closer to your goal, don’t include it.

5. Time-Bound = Success-Bound.

It doesn’t matter whether you love or hate due dates, your goal still needs one. Pick a date that’s far enough that you’ll see results, but close enough that you can maintain motivation to achieve it. Linking your goal to a timeframe creates a practical sense of urgency and creates a healthy discomfort between where you are and where you’d like to be. My advice? Choose a date that’s 1, 2, or 3 months from now. It’s long enough that you can see a change, short enough to be relevant, and will allow you to fine-tune your actions should you continue for the rest of the year.

The Takeaway:

Use these steps (and bonus worksheet) to ensure you get results. Or, you can have the same new year’s resolution next year. The choice is yours.

Here’s to a bigger, better, and brighter 2017!

To learn more about virtual coaching or one-on-one support with your goal, click here.

How To Reflect & Select a Meaningful New Year’s Resolution

With the New Year right around the corner, this is generally the time when people take stock of where they are, make the same resolution they made last year, and swear that this time things will be different. Sound familiar? 

"This is the year when I'll finally:

  • Get in shape/a raise/a husband
  • Give up smoking/gluten/FB stalking my ex
  • Gain more money/more followers/more success"

And while all those are desirable changes, they aren’t going to happen.

No, it’s not because there’s something wrong with you, your wishes, or your willpower.
It’s because it’s an amorphous dream and not a tangible plan. And while I'd love to jump to the part where I give you a strategy to achieve your goals (it's coming), it’s important to get clear on what you truly want.

Today, I’m sharing Part I. of the 2 step system I use with clients to help them choose and achieve a meaningful New Year’s Resolution.

But before we begin, I’ve got a disclaimer: While I’m one of those no-nonsense coaches who likes actionable plans, I'm also a spiritual, contemplative, “ask the Universe for the answer” type of gal. While these 2 parts are seemingly contradictory, I believe that action for action’s sake will only result in a long, un-scenic, detour. At the same time, I believe hippy intentions that aren’t grounded by a plan will leave you setting the same resolution next year. So, in an effort to honor both the intuitive and the achiever that exists in all of us, you first need to get super clear on which change will give you the most ‘bang for our buck.’ In other words, you need a goal that’s aligned with who you are and where you want to be.

And that’s why today is all about: How To Reflect & Select Your New Year’s Resolution

Get Honest. Get Focused.

Since most of us choose a resolution or goal based on what we’re trying to avoid (job loss, being single, poor health), we tend to focus on and attract more of what we don’t want. (For more on that see links to the right --->) 

Choosing a meaningful goal that addresses all of you requires that you take an honest look at ALL the parts of you and your life. And chances are, not everything in your life is crappy or broken. Some parts are likely going well. You simply don’t notice or value it because it isn’t causing you pain.

While it may seem counterproductive, the first step in choosing a New Year’s resolution is to look at what’s working. That’s because the answer to your problem might not be creating a new habit from scratch, it might be doing more of what you do well and translating it to a new area of your life. For example, if you are able to accomplish work tasks and maintain motivation in your career, but can’t seem to make it to the gym, you may want to look at how you can apply your career skill set to your workouts. (More on that here.)  To reflect and select a meaningful resolution, 

Start by asking yourself what’s working:

  1. When I feel like my best self, what am I doing? Where am I? Who am I with?
  2. What parts of myself do I love?
  3. What brings me joy?
  4. What would I like to be known for (characteristics, accomplishments, etc.)?

Then, consider what’s not working by asking yourself:

  1. In what areas of my life am I not being true to myself?
  2. In what areas am I not expressing myself fully?
  3. In what areas do I feel one way, but act another?
  4. What parts of me would I like to cultivate more of?
  5. How can I cultivate more of those through my actions?

Take a few minutes and write the answers to these questions in order (don’t cheat!)

If you want new results, you need to take new actions. Sometimes, those actions involve slowing down and writing down answers to things you think you already know or can skip. (Yes, I’m talking to you!)

Stay tuned. Part II., “Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work (and what to do instead), will help turn this hippy, soul-searching, journaling into some actionable, take-no-prisoners, achievable goals. 

6 Actionable Tips To Create More Calm & Clarity Now

This is the time of year when sh*t hits the fan.

The time of year when our family and work responsibilities continue to increase, while the number of days til 2017 seem to count down like a ticking time bomb. For many, December 31st feels like an unconscious deadline for our goals, dreams, and well-intentioned thought spirals: What did I do with my year? Did I make the most of my time? Am I where I want to be?

As if to respond, the world of wellness has no shortage of solutions:

  • Meditation mastermind!
  • Vision board craft-a-palooza!
  • Colon cleanse!

But of all the advice, products, and programs that flood my inbox, the ones that stick out the most are the ones that tell me to, “trust your gut.” Two reasons why: 1) “Gut” reminds me of digestive issues and crime scenes from Law & Order. 2) For chronic over-thinkers (like me) it creates more questions than it answers.

When I'm in panic mode, the last thing I want to do is slow down, tune in, and “trust my gut.” But without that pause, my action plan would be a detailed, actionable, roadmap that leads nowhere. As crazy as it sounds, slowing down is the only way to ensure that we take the right actions that align with who we are and where we want to be.

So, in an effort to help you (and I) avoid the holiday frenzy (and ensuing mental breakdown), here are 6 actionable tips to help you slow down and get through the year with more calm & clarity:

1. Separate your thoughts from your feelings

Thoughts and feelings aren’t the same thing. Sounds obvious, but we often jump from one to another so quickly that it seems impossible to separate. For example, “I can’t believe my dog peed on my Christmas tree!” is a thought (true story!) Your ensuing feelings of frustration toward your dog are…you guessed it: a feeling. Knowing the difference in realtime will help you to gain clarity and avoid spiraling down the rabbit hole o’ stress. From there, you’ll be in a better state to take the next right action.

2. Focus on how you want to feel (not what you want to accomplish)

The goal of any goal is the feeling it gives you. For example, wanting to have $1 million isn’t about the cash or what you can buy with it, rather the feeling that those things will give you (whether it’s the joy of buying a unicorn onesie for yourself or the joy of spending it on others).

Instead of waiting to accomplish your goal to get that sensation, why not cut out the middle man and give yourself permission to feel amazing now. You have access to those emotions any time, any place. So, focus on ways you can cultivate those feelings here and now.

3. Do less to do more

Productivity isn’t about how much you do, it’s about doing the right things in the right order.  Take a good, hard, look at your “To-Do” List and ask yourself what’s important and what’s urgent. Often, you’ll find that much of what you’re spending your time on only seems important because it’s urgent. Give yourself permission to move things from your “To Do” List to your “To Don’t” List and only take action on what truly matters to you.

4. Say “no”

No to parties, no to secret Santa, no to anything that feels like a burden. “Obligation” is a fancy word for self-inflicted stress. Silence all the “shoulds,” “it’s safer tos,” and “common sense” that you’ve created. Instead, say “no” kindly and directly. Your future self will thank you.

5. Select one small act of self-care

Now is NOT the time for a major life overhaul. Set yourself up for success by picking one, tiny, act of self-care that you can consistently incorporate into your day. For example, drinking 8 glasses of water, not eating lunch at your desk, or allowing yourself an afternoon candy binge. (No judgments!)

6. Be okay with not being okay

The holidays can suck. That’s okay! Trust that you’ve gotten through similar obstacles before and can do it again. The more you resist the inherent stress of the holidays and wish things to be different, the worse you’ll feel. Instead, remind yourself that “this, too, shall pass” and a fresh start is right around the corner!