This is a guest post from blogger and podcaster Jeff Sanders. Thanks Jeff!
Every year New Year’s Resolutions come and go and, as the studies always prove, we don’t follow through on our own goals. Many people give up in less than two weeks. Why?
Is it because we lack discipline? Are the goals too hard? Or, are we slacking off because we want to take the easy road?
These potential reasons are on the right track, but they miss the bigger picture. The answer lies in the disconnect between how we view ourselves now and what we believe to be possible in a year’s time.
Last Year: How Did it Go, For Real?
Evaluating last year is a great first step to understanding what happens over the course of 12 months in your life. When you look back at your resolutions from a year ago, did you accomplish any of them?
Now, before you get too hard on yourself about any potential missteps, realize that the greatest opportunity you have to make next year amazing is to fully understand why you may have failed last year.
You’re going to have to be critical on yourself. Honesty is the best policy. What happened?
Did circumstances out of your control get you down, or did you let circumstances hold you back? In other words, were you proactive or reactive most of the time?
If you could go back and re-live a few key moments, what would you have done differently?
There are multiple perspectives on any situation and the best perspective is always the one with the most truth. The more you know about what worked and what didn’t (and WHY), the more ammo you have to tackle next year.
After analyzing my previous year, I find that the best approach is to write down exactly where I am today with as much truth as I can. I analyze my life in every area: finances, career, family, spirituality, health, etc.
Once I know exactly where I am, then I get completely ridiculous. Let me explain.
The North Star
Resolutions are incredible opportunities to think bigger and dream higher than we ever allow ourselves to do. In other words, we have an abundance of skills and talents but many of us intentionally sabotage our abilities because we are scared to acknowledge just our powerful we are.
I use a strategy I call the North Star Approach. I will dream up an audacious goal for the next 12 months. It usually is a goal that sounds too big to ever accomplish in a decade, let alone a year.
This insane goal becomes my North Star. I let it guide my decision making and goal setting throughout the upcoming months. I ask myself, are my daily choices leading me closer to my North Star goal or farther away?
With one specific and HUGE goal in mind, all my decisions throughout the year have context. They have meaning and a sense of purpose. Even if I never truly accomplish the North Star goal, odds are that I have made significant progress throughout the year and accomplished many big goals along the way.
You might be thinking about a famous quotation from Les Brown that fits the scenario I am describing here: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
As corny as that may sound, I have found it to have a lot of truth. We all need to shoot for the moon. We need a dominating goal to drive our everyday choices. We need a powerful force to guide us and direct us towards a bigger destination than we belief we have the capabilities for.
Don’t Sell Yourself Short
Losing 10 pounds this year is a terrible goal. It’s weak. It lacks purpose and it won’t motivate anyone to do very much.
Losing 50 pounds in order to run a 100-mile ultramarathon over the Rocky Mountains by Christmas – that’s a goal worth striving for. It’s completely crazy and worth every ounce of time, energy, and money it would take to see it through.
Don’t sell yourself short by setting goals anyone could achieve. Set your sights higher and watch yourself rise to the challenge. It WILL happen. It always does.