I know, I know. The New Year Resolutions ship sailed and disappeared beyond the horizon 3 months ago. But what can I say? I’m a sucker for new beginnings, and I just couldn’t start my blog with a random post; I’m old-fashioned like that. Also the beginning of the 2nd quarter is a great inflection point to reflect on progress, reevaluate goals, and reassess if there were any roadblocks. (I promise!)
I’ve had my share of over-ambitious New Year Resolutions, which have left me feeling disappointed and demoralized by the end of the year. After having a long good think on this, I found the underlying cause. It’s because I had no moderation nor evaluation mechanism to my approach. MY NYR would go from being as vague as ‘save the environment’ one year and then ‘recycle all the brown, green, blue, clear bottles separately’ the next.
This year, I’m not going to let that happen. I’ve tested my approach for the past couple of months, found all the bugs, and made all the revisions necessary to make it sustainable.
Here are my my tips!
It’s Not About the Daily Increase, But the Daily Decrease. Hack Away at the Unessential. – Bruce Lee
In the past, I piled on tasks on top of tasks, ultimately creating a never-ending and always under-fulfilled to-do list. The problem was that I never thought about whether I had the time and resources to accommodate them. This time, I thought to myself the following:
How much time do I have in a week outside of work? Roughly 3 hours on weekdays, and the weekend.
What am I currently using that time for? Watching YouTube, work, surfing social media, or spending time with family and friends.
Is that time that I can free up? Yes, definitely!
The tasks that I’m looking to accommodate include yoga, drawing, blogging, reading, and duolingo as activities. Not sure about you, but for me there is no way that I can cram those activities into one day with work in a sustainable manner. I’ve tailored my approach so that I’m doing at least 1 hour of yoga a day, and devoting myself to 1 other activity per day.
Once you’re able to get a sense of the resources that you can free up to actually commit to the new goals, you’re already in a better place than you had been without overburdening yourself. This also enables you to fully commit to your tasks without doing them half-assedly. Divide and Conquer, Select and Focus!
Direction is So Much More Important than Speed. Many are Going Nowhere Fast. – The Internet
The quote doesn’t quite fit, but we’re going to roll with it. Once I’ve got some headspace and time freed up, the next step is to articulate what I’m ultimately trying to achieve. What is the big picturesque thing, that ideal me that I’m striving to become? (Chriselle Lim summed this up beautifully in her post on 2018 intentions)
Stripping my actions to their core purpose, I came up with the below:
I intend to become happier with my body & body image by respecting it.
I intend to be closer to financial independence.
I intend to rediscover myself and build a brand outside of my professional career.
Framing your NYRs in ‘intentions’ is great because it opens your mind to the many different possible roads that lead you closer to your ultimate goal. I used to stress so much over missing a yoga class when I could have just gone for a run or done some weight training instead. Don’t get weighed down by the tasks, always remember what you’re ultimately trying to strive towards. You’ll find that it’s actually more interesting to mix and match different tasks and activities to accommodate the circumstances and your lifestyle.
A Goal Without an Action Plan Is a Daydream. – Nathaniel Branden (who are you…?)
The quote is pretty self-explanatory. If you want to achieve something you have to actually DO something about it. I’ve found that the trick is to come up with a game plan that breaks up my goal into manageable and actionable tasks to fit my schedule and lifestyle. Moderation is key.
My game plan is usually comprised of 1-2 core activities, 1-2 backup activities, and a tracking system. For me, it would look something like the below:
I intend to speak Japanese fluently by the end of the year
The core activity is to study with an online course.
The backup plan is to listen to a Japanese podcast or to freetalk with my parents for 30 minutes.
The tracking system is the biannual JLPT that I’ll be taking as well as the check-in system for the online courses.
I’ve found that making sure to have few core activities and a few backup plans is crucial to making sure that I stay on track. I have three practical tips for a successful action plan.
First, have your core activity be ingrained into your daily movements. For example, get a gym membership where you know you’ll be seeing it daily on the way to/from work. You’ll be more inclined to go. Or is there a daily news program that you listen to? Take up a hobby while you’re listening to it!
Second, the backup plan should be something that you can action in the event that you cannot commit to your core activity. Usually I like to imagine situations where I don’t normally have access to my daily life; a business trip, a vacation, staying at the bfs, etc. If your gym closes down for renovation, don’t let go of your exercises altogether. Take up jogging or get familiar with some home training videos that can substitute your original routine. You’ll find that there are actually a lot of resources available to you!
Third, be vocal and open about tracking and set some milestones. Ultimately, I’m consciously working towards something to become the best version of myself. But how do I know if I’ve actually progressed? I tell people what I’m planning or what I’ve been doing, often they’ll recognize the transformation which is all the more reason to continue on. Or alternatively I like to set milestones and a reward system which helps to motivate. For example, if I pass the JLPT N1, I’m going to gift myself a trip to Japan.
Treat YoSelf! – Tom from Parks and Recreation
I’ve found that there’s no better way to motivate myself than to treat myself. When you’ve made progress and improvements; recognize, appreciate, and celebrate! This might seem like the most unimportant tip, but trust me, it’s not. There are SO many times when I stopped just shy of my goal because I tended to discredit and forget where I came from. Celebrating the wins is incredibly helpful in getting over those times when you’re just lacking the motivation, momentum is going down, or your plateauing. I think what people forget is that things don’t get easier, they get harder as you become more masterful and skilled in what you’re looking to achieve.
Do let me know if you’ve found this helpful. I plan on tracking my NYRs on this blog and looking back at the end of the year to see how well I’ve done or if I flopped and why. I’d love to hear what tips and tricks you have. I’ll be tracking my development and progress (or lack of) on this blog and at the end of the year. Stay tuned!