Start the Year Intentionally and Sustainably

Another year has passed us by, and another year is here.  Every year, people start with the intention of changing or achieving a certain goal and every year after 2 months almost 80% of people who had a new year resolution has given up or tore up the plan and have gone back to their “normal self of yester-years”.  Every year we wonder what happened and every year the same reasons appear.  According to research the top 5 reasons why new year resolutions don’t work are:

  1. The change is too dramatic or too quick.  People expect change to happen overnight or the change that they want to make is too dramatic or big to happen with just one attempt.
  2. The goals are unrealistic.  People want to achieve their goals which are either multifaceted or too broad to be realistic.
  3. Lack of accountability.  Setting goals to achieve on your own is the start but to achieve them requires more than just goals written on paper.  It requires a support structure and when you lack accountabilities, there is no support structure in place to help you move forward when the going gets tough.
  4. Lack of planning and tracking.  More often than not, people fail because their either lack a plan or lack a detailed plan with helpful tracking and milestones.  To not be prepared is one certain way of not achieving your goals. 
  5. Gap between head knowledge and application.  Resolutions or goals are great in our heads and even better when its written down and is visible.  However, the energy, commitment, and work involved in thinking up a plan, writing it down and actually doing it is vastly different.  For most people, we have the head knowledge of something and even how to do it but the gap between what’s in our mind or our knowledge and actually getting it done is vastly different.  You will only truly know something when you do it and experience it for yourself. 

Hence the question:  Should I even bother with new year resolutions or goals?  My answer is don’t bother creating one unless you are able to be intentional and to be able to sustain it over a period of time.  We are all wired to want to make a difference, to be of useful service, to make an impact.  In order to end the year feeling that you have actually achieved something, you will need to be intentional.  Most people want to have a resolution or a goal because they want or need to achieve something different in the new year.  Most people are not satisfied with not accomplishing much or feeling like every year is the same as the last.  Where is the meaning of life if life is just going to pass us by without leaving some sort of mark on the lives of the people around us or in our quest to further grow and mature as an individual.  To accomplish any of those desires, we do need to be intentional and not just to be intentional but also one where it can be sustainable over a long period of time such as over the course of the year.

How do I go about having a sustainable and intentional year?

There are 3 keys to being intentional and 3 key for it to be sustainable.  The 3 keys to being intentional are:

  • Have simple and clear goals
  • Have a plan of what to do
  • Have a plan of what NOT to do

The 3 keys for it to be sustainable:

  • Support structure
  • Fun and Exciting
  • Reward yourself

Let’s break it down:

The 3 keys to being intentional sounds simple enough but it is in this simplicity that we need to put our attention on.  For you to be intentional you will need to have a clear focus for you to gather all your time, energy and resources.  A clear and simple focus comes from what you prioritise over all else.  For example, I don’t have a new year resolution with goals but every year I have a word focus.  A word that focuses my priorities and outcomes.  Last year, the word was Fruitful.  The outcome of that, whatever I want to do, I would think about the fruitful outcome or nature of it.  I would not do anything that did not bring about a fruitful outcome.  Fruitful does not necessarily mean that it had to provide a 10- or 100-fold output but it would be one where it had to be impactful for at least one more person than me.  Most of the time we stop ourselves because we think that what we do is of little or insignificant impact.  However, that is not true.  Don’t believe the lie that your life is of little consequence just because you are able to influence or impact one person.  You will never know the true impact today but years later the world might experience it.  You could be raising the next Einstein!

A simple and clear plan is more important that a multipage plan.  Simple and clear plan allows you to take the steps that you need to especially if it’s to change a habit or to create a new habit or to develop an attribute.  Remember, you can’t change overnight, and neither can you scale a mountain overnight or without practice and hard work.  The simpler the plan, the easier it will be for your start and to maintain over a period of time. 

As part of the simple plan of knowing what to do, it is just important to know what you will NOT do or to let go of or to eliminate all together.  Deep down we each know of some things that we should stop doing.  We also know that if we stop doing some of these things, we are able to free up time to do the things that we need to.  Part of stopping doing the things that we should not be doing should include things that do not bring you satisfaction or impact. To let go of certain emotional baggage is just as important as letting go of physical baggage.

The 3 keys to being sustainable.

In order for you to sustain your intention for the whole year, you will need to have these 3 elements, namely a support structure, for you to have fun and to enjoy doing it and to reward yourself daily.

Support structure comes in many forms.  It can from tools that you will need to use in order for you to get organise, to keep on your track, to help you be more productive and to more efficient.  It can be from your close connections to help support, encourage, coach, mentor and guide you along the journey.  It can be from consuming more knowledge in the form of books, classes, podcasts, etc.  Pick and use all forms of support structure that will help you.  Do not let your fear of not knowing stop you from taking steps to learn and gather information to help you make informed decisions for your next steps.

Having fun and enjoying the process and journey is critical is ensuring that you are able to continue and sustain the journey.  If you are not enjoying or having fun, than you have almost lost the battle already.  One of the reason, people do not make health or fitness changes sustainable over a long period is because it is not fun or enjoyable.  When you are not enjoying something, you are not motivated to keep going when the going gets tough and the going will get tough.  We should expect that and prepare for it.

Thirdly, reward yourself daily.  Most people leave the reward to the end of the goal.  When I have achieved the goal, I will then reward myself.  That might work for someone who is very discipline and has excellent self-control, however, for me, I need to reward myself daily.  To know that I have taken this step or achieve this small task is enough for me to reward myself.  Now, of course, my reward will be appropriate based on the achievement.  Therefore, don’t get me wrong, don’t abuse the reward structure by rewarding yourself disproportionately because your internal core value will know when it’s not aligned and that will not sit well with you.  The point is to ensure that we are thankful and grateful along every point of the journey.  This will help sustain you through your intentional journey.

Let me summarise.  To have this new year be intentional, remember the 3 keys to being intentional and they are:

  • Have simple clear goals
  • Know what to do
  • Know what NOT to do

In order for it to be sustainable you will need to have these 3 keys:

  • Support structure in place
  • Have fun and enjoy the journey
  • Reward yourself daily

Thank you for taking the time to read this article.   I hope that you have learned at least one thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life.   As always, please subscribe, follow and share this blog with your friends.  Take care and step into the everyday with purpose. 

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