New Year is approaching, so today I want to talk about New Year’s resolutions and how you can set the tone to be more productive in 2019. And at the end of the post I’ll also share my resolutions for 2019, so stay tuned if you’re curious to find out what they will be!
I love this time of the year because you can reflect on this outgoing unit of time and make iterations for the new year. It’s always been the most important holiday for me and I’ve seen it as an opportunity to start from a clean slate.
“New Year, New You” – it may sound almost corny, but I like to start a new year from a clean state, it’s my way of rebooting. Clear your cache and free up more memory for creativity and new projects.
So, let’s get to business and break your preparation for the new year into the following stages:
- Reflection and analysis
- Resolutions and planning
Stage 1: Reflection and Analysis
You may know that I love UX and Design thinking – so I’ve decided to experiment with those principles for my reflection! I’ve done a journaling exercise where I answered a set of questions related to my 2018 and then went through the sentences highlighting phrases, sentences and repeating words.
I wanted to really feel what my year was like, reflect on my achievements and see what areas I could improve in. I analysed whether I’ve reached my goals, colour coding it the way we did that at Google: Red if you’re below 50%, Orange if you’re below 90% and Green if you’ve reached 90 or above. It’s hard to quantify and evaluate goals that I haven’t quantified, so I tried to rank them by achievement status.
Stage 2: Resolutions and planning
For this stage, I decided to first do an exercise that my friend and ex-colleague at Google did: she wrote letters to herself in the next year.
Let me explain the process first: you write a letter addressing yourself, talking about all of those things that you’d like to achieve in a year’s time as if you’ve already achieved them. Try to be as descriptive as you can and don’t limit yourself to just career goals, include personal life and growth as well. Seal it and put it away. Open in a year to see if your predictions have come true. Again, this might be a great way to reflect and appreciate how much you’ve achieved. Or you might find that you’ve diverted from your original plans and are now taking a new exciting direction!
So I did just that, I’ve written a letter to myself congratulating myself on my ideal world achievements for 2019! This helped me see themes and identify my priorities for the year, which then helped to plan backwards: what are my goals based on this ideal life scenario? Being ambitious and yet realistic is very important in this process: it needs to be a healthy mix of both.
You can also highlight phrases in this one to identify themes and help form your goals and resolutions. Make sure you write all of your conclusions down after that, so that you can track your progress and get back on track if you feel like you’ve unintentionally deviated.
I like to differentiate between goals and resolutions, for
Stage 3: Execution
This is the part where you have to commit and push yourself. If one of your goals is to build a habit then you need to stick to it for at least 30 days to make it stick. I’m not an expert on habit formation, but there are plenty of resources out there that help you with that. In this case, as part of execution, I’d plan to integrate that activity into your life daily – preferably after a trigger, for example after you brush your teeth or right after you get back from work.
If it’s a goal that you are trying to reach, then I’d work backwards from it, seeing what milestones you need to reach along the way and what actions you need to take – to create your action plan.
Some additional execution tips I can give you are:
- Write them down so that you can see them: put them on a sticky note on your computer, wall, bathroom mirror – wherever you can see them. This repetition will be a helpful reminder and hopefully a source of motivation.
- Track your progress: set regular check-ins with yourself to see how you’re doing, whether you’ve achieved your milestones and if you need to readjust your action plan. If you’re trying to build a habit, it would be a good idea to create a calendar for tracking your progress by checking off boxes.
- Share your New Year’s resolutions and goals with someone who will hold you accountable. It can be anyone who you can trust and who is a good influence on you – because that person will motivate you to become better and stay on track. And if you don’t do something while knowing that the other person will ask you about it, you will feel guilty – and that’s another hack how to trick yourself into achieving more.
- And finally, don’t be afraid. We often limit ourselves and our opportunities by letting fear get the best of us. Feelings that “you’re not good enough” and that you will never achieve that ambitious goals are normal, but they are counter productive. Make them go away by thinking of what’s the worst that can happen – you might fail? So what? Will you lose your house or harm yourself or others? If not, then the risk isn’t that scary.
I have some videos for you on the topic: an interview with Natalie who talks about fear and how it was formed in our brain and also my video about impostor syndrome. I hope you enjoy them!
Now let me share my resolutions for 2019! I am still working on my goals, so I won’t share those, but I’ll share my big themes 🙂
Like I said, I create resolution themes for myself, identifying areas of improvement. In 2018 there were two of them: Confidence and Networking. I wanted to become better at those things when it came to my business and I have to say, looking back I’ve achieved so much! I haven’t reached perfection in those areas of course, but there was a significant improvement.
For 2019 I have more themes, so I’ve broken them down into business and personal:
Delegation, Batching and Intention
Confidence and Being Present
These themes will be reflected in my goals as well 🙂 What are your resolutions or goals for this year? And do you have a process for reflection and planning like what I’ve shared? Let me know in the comments!
Also, please let me know if you’d like more blog posts like this one! I really enjoy talking about productivity and I’d love to write more posts like this if you find these topics useful 🙂
Happy New year and may all of your goals and resolutions be achieved in 2019!