Nearly two-thirds of people abandon their New Year’s resolutions within a month. If you’re one of them, you’re in good company. Three main reasons people give up so quickly are:
One, your goal might be too large. You can only eat one elephant at a time, as the saying goes. Resolutions are no different. They must be broken down into small steps in order to be realizable.
Two, your resolution isn’t about you. Another major obstacle we face is making New Year’s resolutions that don’t reflect what we want. So often, we’re influenced by friends, family, and what we see in society. We are unlikely to achieve our goals unless they are intrinsically driven.
Three, you aren’t framing your goals positively. When we resolve to stop wasting money or stop eating junk food, for example, it often backfires because it makes us think about the thing we’re trying to avoid. Instead, use positive language to frame your goals. Rather than telling yourself, “Don’t eat junk food,” think instead about your desired behavior, like “Eat carrots and peanut butter as a healthy snack.”
I have a favorite way to plan for the new year that doesn’t include making resolutions. Here it is.
1. Visualize your future Best possible future self.
Find a place that you will be alone for a few minutes. Imagine you are in a year’s time and things are going well. (Not perfectly, there’s no such thing.) You’ve started that company you’ve been dreaming about, or you’ve landed that huge client or gotten that dream job. Maybe you envision yourself moving to the city you have always wanted to live. Your relationship and family are happy, and you’re living in a home that you love.
If you are already a major-league baseball player, please do not imagine yourself winning the World Series. The point is not to visualize your worst nightmare, but the best future that you can imagine in the real world.
After you’ve chosen your future time frame, take a few moments to mentally explore it. What would you feel like? Where would your ideal location be? With whom would you be?
2. Spend 10 minutes writing it down.
Spend 10 minutes writing about your future self. It should be as detailed as possible. Answer questions about yourself and your future. Then, write about what it feels like to have achieved your greatest goals. Don’t worry about things like grammar and spelling. Unless you choose to do otherwise, nobody will ever see it except you.
This exercise will help you identify your 2022 goals and inspire you to act. What next steps can you take to get closer towards your future self?