A lot of people pooh pooh New Year’s Resolutions. I have nothing against them but prefer to just call them ‘goals’. Why limit self-improvement to just once a year??

I am also an avid fan of optimising and ‘hacking’ my psychology to elicit positive behaviour change to maximise the chance for success.

In this case, this means taking advantage of the new year resolution drive and piggybacking on the collective motivation and drive to gain momentum for 2020.

So, here are 10 ways to pimp your NYRs to make you more likely to succeed and crush it this year!

1️⃣ First off, reflect on the important domains across your whole life e.g. physical health; mental health; money; relationships; family; fun; personal development; social time etc. Rate each section out of 10. Consider setting goals for the ones that score the least as these are the areas where you will gain the most benefit in overall happiness (this is what life is about after all).

2️⃣ Establish a value hierarchy. If you want to get fit and healthy but when you stack things up in order of importance, health is number 9… what do you think your chances of success are? Exactly zero. Your goals should be associated with things in the top 2-3 items of your value hierarchy and if not then you may need to re-think (or fail).⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

I’m not saying that only the top 2-3 things in your value hierarchy will ever be achieved, I’m just saying the higher you value the outcomes, the more chance you have of success.

3️⃣ Label goals as ACHIEVEMENT goals or HABIT goals. For bonus points, link them together! Achievement goals involve achieving xyz, habit goals involve doing xyz daily, weekly or monthly or whatever. Coupling the two types gives achievement goals a systematic method to achieving them and gives habit goals a purpose and clear endpoint i.e. the REASON you are doing what you are doing.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

If you’d like to get fitter then an ACHIEVEMENT goal could be “Running a 5k race in x time by y date” and the associated HABIT goal could be something like ‘running x miles a week’.

4️⃣ Be specific with your goals. What has to be true for you to know that you’ve achieved your goal. Be precise with numbers and dates.

e.g. My goal is to get fitter. I will know I’ve achieved this because I’ll be able to run a marathon in 3 hours. I will move towards this by running x number of each week according to y programme.

5️⃣ Stretch yourself but don’t go crazy. Make your goals tough and exciting as this will drive you to achieve more and ensure you don’t get bored… but don’t go crazy with them as it can be demotivating to feel they are out of reach.

This is a tough balance to strike and only you know where the line is but over time you should get a feel for your peak performance zone. The more you set goals and strive towards them, the better you’ll become at gauging them. Doing something more makes you better at it, who would have thought!?

6️⃣ Long term goals set the direction. At least have an idea of where you want to be in the future. From there you can work backwards and make sure your shorter-term goals are relevant and leading towards your endgame. Not only will this boost your motivation but also make it less likely that you’ll give up if you suffer a setback as you have a bigger goal to reach!

Remember, goals, in general, are less about achievement and more about the journey you go on and the person you become getting there.

7️⃣ Review your goals DAILY to keep them at the top of your mind. If you journal then re-write them every day. If you don’t journal then get a notepad just for this. Also note why going through the process will benefit you and reiterate WHY you are trying to do what you’re doing. Ideally, ask yourself “Why?” 3-5 times until you get to the REAL reason. Build an emotional attachment to it. Really dig deep and then draw on this when you feel like you can’t be bothered or motivation is low.

8️⃣ Aim for consistency over perfection. It’s better to do 3 training sessions per week for 6 months then it is to do 7 for the first 2 weeks of January then give up because you can’t keep up the pace or are too sore. This also allows for ‘life’ to happen.

The way I look at it is: “What will I be able to keep up even if I’ve had the busiest week of my life?”

Note: As habits become ingrained then you’ll be able to do more. To go back to the training analogy, I can manage 5 training sessions a week consistently as I’ve been doing it for years but when starting out, be realistic.

9️⃣ Don’t try to do EVERYTHING. Pick 2-3 goals to start with. Other goals will come once you’ve got these on autopilot. For me, my health is on autopilot. This means I can focus on other things, for example, learning a language, reading a shit load of books and building a coaching business. This means that even though health is number 1 in my value hierarchy it doesn’t take up any bandwidth. It takes time to get to this stage, it’s worth it so start now!

? Don’t be afraid to re-assess or rethink goals. This isn’t necessarily a failure. There is no benefit to continually beating yourself up for not meditating every day for example. Reflect on it. Work out why it’s not happening. Maybe it’s dropped in importance to you? Or was never as important as you thought it was? This is fine. Be honest with yourself. Re-evaluate values and adjust the goal as appropriate. Remember, you don’t have to wait until next year to try again.

That’s me! For more musings and motivation make sure you sign up to my “Not a Newsletter” email list (it’s one of my 2020 resolutions to write more regularly ?)

And finally, please let me know below if you are already using any of these or if you have more to add!

Much love and here’s to an epic 2020!


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