How to Make Your 2017 Resolutions (Actually) Happen
In case you haven't looked at a calendar or your social media feeds, it's the first week of 2017. The new year is upon us – that beautiful time of the year when we're brimming with motivation. Motivation to finally take up early-morning space at the gym for a couple weeks before deciding the snooze button's a better option. Motivation to finally go vegan until you realize the hunger from your new strenuous workouts cannot be satisfied with anything but steak. Motivation to...you get it.
We're all guilty of this. Every new year, we create ourselves a laundry list of unattainable goals and aspirations, only to fail before we flip our calendars to February. Why do we keep setting ourselves up for failure? And when we know we failed last year and the year before then, where is this undying enthusiasm coming from?!
I believe that enthusiasm comes from the desire for a fresh start, and the new year is a great time to do just that. The stresses of the holidays are behind us, and we're getting back into the groove of everyday life. So why not make some life improvements while you're at it?
I'm 100% a supporter of "new year, new me". So it's not our enthusiasm that I'm criticizing; it's our strategy for actually making things happen. Successfully going from Point A ("new year") to Point B ("new me") clearly isn't working for most people. So I've taken a step back and thought about a few things I'm going to do differently this year to make my 2017 goals and aspirations more attainable – and hopefully they'll help you out, too.
Resolutions should be sequential.
If you know me, you know I'm a planner and a dreamer. In certain instances this is the worst kind of trait combination you could ask for, and creating new year resolutions is a perfect case in point. I've historically spent Januarys hunched over my computer, furiously typing out my resolutions and the steps to get there, eyes glazed over in some sort of psychotic, day-dreamy euphoria.
I'm definitely not saying don't make plans. After all, I don't see myself achieving any resolution without some planning involved. Instead, I'm saying to stop making a million different plans at once. Just because we write out our list of resolutions for the year at the same time, doesn't mean we have to go at each of them gung-ho from January 1st.
Instead, space them out. List them in sequential order from most to least important, and tackle them only one or two at a time. By going after your resolutions in smaller, more manageable bits, you're more likely to stick with them and make them happen.
Don't force a round peg in a square hole.
It's easy to get caught up in other people's ideas of productivity. I do this all the time. If I read an article about someone claiming that night owls are x-percentage more productive, I start to question my early-bird tendencies. Should I stop waking up as early? Should I save my personal projects for later in the evening? How late is "late"? Will I still be productive after six Red Bulls?
If you ever find yourself doing this: stop. Don't force a round peg in a square hole. Remind yourself that everyone is different and different processes, schedules, and motivators work for different people. Personally, I'm most productive super early in the morning with a fat mug of coffee in arm's reach. If others get their creative spark at the end of their day, when all other tasks are out of the way, that's okay: know yourself, and do what works best for your productivity.
Your environment matters.
Have you ever tried to work while sitting next to someone that you love gossiping with? Or near the tv, where your favorite show is playing? How about in a public place where you're not comfortable or focused, so you half-ass what you're doing and get out?
I've tried all of these before. Shocker: I accomplished next to nothing. I've tried studying around friends, I've tried working on personal projects while watching anime, and I've tried working out in a congested gym. None of those environments encourage even an ounce of productivity from me. I'm an introvert, and I have the most productive energy while I'm alone. When I can lock myself behind closed doors and zen-out to my "relaxing cello" playlist on Spotify, I'm a lean, mean, productivity machine.
Again, this comes down to knowing yourself. Create an environment that motivates you. Understand what things distract you, and remove them from the picture. When you put fuel in the right fire, you can accomplish more than you ever thought possible.
I'm headed into the new year with the same enthusiasm as I've always had – I'm just channeling that enthusiasm in a smarter way so that it produces better results. I hope some of these pointers resonate with you and help you make your 2017 resolutions (actually) happen. Cheers!