A happy, healthy, and musical New Year to you!
I’m one of those people who traditionally sets resolutions at the end of each December. The list usually comprises of roughly 6 things based on different areas of my life and interests. Not everything gets accomplished within the next 12 months, but I’ve been pretty happy with the typical 50-70% success rate. Unfortunately, New Year’s resolutions don’t work for everyone. While some things in life are clearly outside of our control, we can navigate our long-term goal challenges by looking at the four following scenarios. I take the most common saboteurs of resolution achievement and for each, include an action step or alternative perspective that we can consider.
Aligning Values and Actions
First, we have resolutions that highlight a grave misalignment between one’s true inner values, priorities, and current habits. Typically, certain values will stay with a person for many years (perhaps even a lifetime) while others will change over time. We need to also consider what is most important to us, and whether that is represented through our daily routines and actions. No matter how well-meaning as our values and priorities may be, our subconscious mind will ultimately trust our actions and current habits above everything else to be the “truth”. This common scenario requires us to first reconsider if we still agree with the values which we’ve always held close to us.
If what we do is constantly opposite of what we claim we want, one thing that can help is to redirect the unwanted action (or lack thereof) by connecting our previously established values to a specific vision. For example, imagine the “highest” version of yourself in the future. What is this person like? What are they doing (or not doing)? What is their environment like? Then, imagine they’re sitting across from you in the room, and have a conversation. Finally, try to envision that person as already a part of you as you go about your day.
Reflecting on Reality for Success
In the second situation, we have resolutions that are either out of context or too far out of reach based on the current situation. Goals need to be appropriate. Reflecting on the previous year (or 2 years, or quarter…) and accepting the present reality will give us a big advantage toward success. This is because self-reflection puts us in the prime position to build upon what’s already established. It gives perspective to assess and make smart decisions about what goals would be fair and realistic, even if some edge on the ambitious side. The most effective goals lie on the edge of, or a little bit beyond our comfort zone and abilities.
The Path is the Goal
Third, tunnel-visioning toward the “finish line” prevents us from seeing what’s right in front of us. It’s very difficult to reach any goals without also creating supporting systems and a rough “map” of steps toward reaching them. The paradox is that “the goal is the path, and the path is the goal.” If we live more in the present moment, explore possibilities and details of our artistic endeavors, and continue showing up for ourselves and for others in our daily lives, then we are more likely to reach our “destination” as a by-product. Bring 90% of focus toward the systems and actions without losing perspective of the direction, and the goal will take care of itself.
Finally, many people subconsciously interpret a “slip up” as the equivalent of failure and a hint to give up. It’s important to remember that progress is seldom a linear path. In lieu of setting resolutions only on January 1, the success rate of our long-term goals will improve if we revisit them semiannually or quarterly, with monthly or even weekly check-ins.
We can carve our own unique path – one that considers its environment, obstacles, and opportunities not previously considered.