Happy New Year Everyone!!! It’s that time of year again!! No, not the time to party, but the time for resolutions.
Every year, except last year, I have created a set of resolutions for myself. They ranged from wanting to work out more, to eating right, to becoming more spiritual, to being a better person. At some point or another I’ve had a resolution for whatever you could think of. I’ve even had a resolution that I’d become a New York Times Best Selling Author one year. Every year, I’ve failed to accomplish my resolution, for many reasons. One of which was that I’ve forgotten about them a few weeks into the new year. Even when the resolutions were accomplished, I didn’t give myself credit for accomplishing anything.
Last year, I decided against setting up New Year's Resolutions, and wanted to create resolutions at some other point in the year. Surprise, I never did!
And even that failure has weighed painfully on me. But, every year, I find myself in another societal trap that is really quite dangerous. New Year's Resolutions are a cultural phenomenon that demand we participate or justify our independence from them. However, if we have them then we’re told that they’ll never actually be accomplished, and if we don’t, then it’s because we’ve failed in the past. In both situations, we are shamed for our failure to succeed in something that has been hijacked from us. Because the reality is that having New Year's Resolutions and goals is a good thing, and can be very helpful for us, but when society shames us regardless of what we do then it becomes extremely detrimental to our wellbeing.
The other thing that we do at the end of every year is reflect on the previous year. These reflections are key in the creation of our resolutions. **Often, our resolutions are giants compared to our reflections, when in reality it should be the opposite.** We create these new resolutions with the previous year in mind. They are things that we wish we had done, and we hope that the energy provided by a new beginning will give us the momentum needed for us to succeed, this time.
This year, I decided to create a new methodology for creating my goals and resolutions for the New Year. I am hoping that this year will be different because of the steps I document below. These are things I’ve come up with that I have used in other goal setting arena’s of my life, and have been very successful because of them. To make it as simple as possible I am also including an example with each of the steps of my 2017 New Year's Resolutions. As always, these are just tips, and by no means should you take them exactly as they are, to implement in your life. Take them as a template that you can customize for yourself.
The Resolution to be used as an Example: Publishing my first book
1) Reflect, Reflect, Reflect
There are two days between us and the New Year. Many of us will have the weekend and possibly Friday off. Use that time to go through the previous year. What worked? What didn't work? Did you have resolutions in the beginning of the year? How did accomplishing them go? If you succeeded, then great, what were some of the things that helped? If you didn't, what are some of the things that would've helped?
Example: Although I didn’t have this goal last year, it is something I have always worked towards. A few things have always prevented me from succeeding:
- The fact that I kept rewriting novels
- Inability to hire a professional editor, or share my writing with friends to read over
- Time to commit to getting published
2) Create achievable goals
This, will be different for everyone. Every single one of us knows what they're capable of. I'm not saying to select the things you believe you can do on your most grandiose days, or the ones you think you can do on your worst days. Find a balance between the two, but ultimately, you decide what is achievable for you.
Example: The novel I want to publish is already complete, and just needs to be edited before submission. I am in a good place to achieve this goal. Some days I believe I can publish more than one novel, or begin from scratch and publish all in the same year. Other times, I believe I will never see any of my books published. One completed book, and one published book is enough for me.
3) Have a diverse array of goals
Some should be easier to achieve than others. Some can be achieved early in the year, while others can take longer. Seeing the success of a few might be the energy you need to continue on your goals.
Example: Publishing a book is one goal. Other goals include: being vegan 50% of the time, and vegetarian 90% of the time, eating out less, strengthening my support system, growing Life in My Days, committing more time to myself, and a few other things. Some of these will be easier to achieve than others. Some I can start today, others will need to wait a bit.
4) Once you have the goals in mind, come up with a plan for each one.
Having a goal is fantastic, but unless you create a plan to make it happen, chances are it won't become a reality.
Example: Getting published isn’t easy. As part of my plan, and timeline for that plan, I need beta readers, time to create the second draft, hiring a professional editor, writing a query letter and proposal, finding the right agent, submitting the work, and submitting the work, as needed. All of these things requiring a commitment from me, both timewise and financially, and I need to plan to make sure that they’re all possible.
5) Identify the resources you will need
Very few of us can do everything alone, and we need support, be it from ourselves or others. It's important to identify the key supports you need in your life for these resolutions to be attained.
Example: I have some published author friends who can be great resources in helping me navigate the publishing industry. I have a few friends more than willing to be beta readers and editors. I will need some money to hire a professional editor, if needed. And most importantly, time.
6) Identify the key barriers that might come in your way
Just like we need a good idea of the support we need, we also need to address the areas of our lives that might make it more difficult for us to achieve our goals. List out several barriers for each goal.
Example: the things I’ve identified during the reflection might come up. I might have the urge to rewrite everything, or to start a brand new project instead.
7) Identify solutions for the key barriers
If a barrier does come up, what then? Do you call it quits or are there other things you can do?
Example:To overcome these barriers, I have committed to not restart this novel, it is 90% complete as is. If I get the impulse to start a new project, I will do so keeping in mind that I have the needed time for this goal to be accomplished.
8) Bring it all together in a formal plan
Documenting your plan is a way to have a reminder of your goals, and what you need to do when things aren't going right. This can be a formal document, on your phone, a poster, whatever you'd like.
Example: I am writing an article about my goal to be published this year for thousands of people to read about. I also have it documented more formally in a Google Doc.
9) Make adjustments along the way
Just because it's a New Year’s Resolution doesn't mean it can't be changed along the way. Make amendments to the plan as you learn from your mistakes, and even change your goals if you must. You're in charge here.
Example: I might need to change more than 10% of the novel for it to be ready for publication. I might need more beta readers. I might not need an editor. Things will change.
10) It's okay to not complete them all
You are not a failure for not achieving your New Year’s Resolutions. As long as you learn from the experience, or benefit somehow, you're good to go.
Example: I love writing, and I love sharing my words with the world. I don’t need to be published to do either of those things. I don’t need to get this done this year. If now is not the right time then that’s okay.
11) Remember why you're doing this in the first place? If making New Year’s Resolutions is extremely stressful and always causes more harm than good, then maybe there are other options to consider instead. Whatever your goals, always have a goal for having New Year’s Resolutions, and if that doesn’t work this year, try again next year.
Whatever you decide, be intentional about it, and take ownership of the successes and failures, but remember, the mere fact you’re doing this means that you’re trying to take charge of your life, and there’s not failure in that.
Good luck, and happy New Year!
Ahmad Abojaradeh is the Co-Founder of Muslim Community Link, An Engineer, a world traveler, a Peer Support Specialist, a Novelist and the founder and editor of Life in My Days. He hopes to spread awareness of living a life of wellness through his writing, workshops and speaker events. Follow Ahmad on twitter, instagram or facebook.