It has been one of the most difficult to write blog posts for me. New Year Resolutions are a big thing yet they seem to be not real. And how can we work with that?
I know goals are crucial. I know goals work. Yet I feel I can’t make it easy for people to actually follow their dreams, and it is killing me.
In language learning, making a good plan helps to make a big step towards success. But do New Year resolutions hurt or help? Let’s try to figure out.
When new students come to work with me, I always ask them: What do you want to achieve? And I rarely get a clear answer. I am sad to see that too many people just wish for something (in my case, something about learning English), and they feel frustrated when they can’t understand if they achieved … what? … something. What results could we be talking about here? How will you arrive at the place you didn’t decide on?
So, if we don’t know what we want, we become disappointed just because nothing happens.
To avoid disappointment, we need to start with figuring out our end-game. What kind of result will make you satisfied? When you can understand what material outcome you want to receive, your wish becomes a goal.
How goals, not wishes, make our life easier
When people describe their frustrations, they use words like endless, without the end, my whole life. We are less afraid that it will be difficult than that it will be long. And we see the lack of progress as a throwback. So, breaking the endless line into a series of smaller steps works perfectly for human psychology. That is why New Year Resolutions are so popular, from my point of view. We can imagine how long one year is, and we can imagine how much we can do within this year.
In that case, your goal should not only be specific, it should be time-bound.
And your goal should be written down.
Having your goals on paper makes them real.
Everything you will be achieving in the process will be inspiring you for further actions. The positive experience is your ‘safety bag’; this is what will help you move on when things are slow or not great. How do you keep this experience in your memory? You record your track and you celebrate your small wins.
Because you just don’t remember all of them later
When I started developing my online business, I thought I had a good starting point. I had been a teacher for 14 years, I completed several big projects, I helped so many people, and I achieved so many results. That’s what I thought.
But when I started describing all this on my website page, I got astonished. I had nothing to say except for some general phrases. I didn’t remember details and dates, I didn’t have a written feedback or a track record of anything I had done in such a long time. My memory was simply failing me. And then I realised what a big mistake I had made: I had never kept track of my achievements. I didn’t have material proof of it. My professional self-awareness was very low.
And I needed to start again, trying to collect random pieces together to be able to turn it into a method I had been so many times praised for.
What is important to do for success
This sad story of mine demonstrates the importance of having three things written down at every step of your way towards achieving something:
- you record your specifiс and timely goal,
- you keep track of your wins and failures to learn from them, and
- you review your goal at a certain interval, also in writing, to understand when to adjust your goal or when it is the time for a new one.
You can put it all down to your diary or a specific file on your computer.
We usually use this template with my students, and now it’s become quite popular on the Web. Please use it too if you feel like.
The secrets of making New Year Resolutions work
- As you can see from my template, you start with revising the year which just passed. Or even better, you start with your previous resolutions. Why is it so important? We tend to forget our before’s. When we improve, our memory tricks us into thinking it was always like this. So, when you compare before and after, you see the progress happening, and it is crucial for motivation.
- I recommend revising your resolutions 3 or 4 times during the year. We are sometimes unnecessarily disappointed with ourselves if things don’t go exactly as we have decided. If you adjust your goals to the changes in your life or yourself, you feel on track, and you stay realistic. I moved to a new place last year, quite unexpectedly. Many of the things I had planned in January became irrelevant in the middle of the year. It was very important for me to revise my resolutions not to waste my time on irrelevant things.
- It’s effective to do them as a recording. When you make a video or an audio with yourself speaking about your goals, you verify them one more time in your head. Maybe something will sound stupid to you, or maybe you will get new ideas in the process. The most productive way is to discuss them with somebody, but even saying them out loud will do much good. If you are brave enough, you can post them online. And it’s a big deal. Your recording will attract a community of like-minded people, which means…yeah!…more motivation! But of course, beware of trolls)
- As I said before, putting your goals out there is a big deal. Social accountability is a modern blast. We always work better when somebody is watching (believe me, I know, I am a teacher – people use me as their accountability tool so often 🙂 ). It’s great to share with somebody how it is going on a regular basis. In can be an online professional community or just your family member or a friend.
- I will remind you again about keeping track. Keep the ones from the previous years – it’s really interesting to feel the time pass when you compare your goal lists and plans from the previous periods.
And yes, it’s the post about New Year resolutions, but please please please don’t wait for some time point if you want to start now. And if you are not ready to start, please don’t lie to yourself that when the time comes, you will get down to it.
So, answer this question now: Am I ready to act on my wish? Do I REALLY want it to become a real thing?
If you just answered yes, please take 5 minutes to think about the measurable goals, include them into your New Year resolutions or the plan for the year, and start acting in small measurable steps – it can be any usual day, no need to wait for January.
If you use your own template for New Year Resolutions and regular plans, please share your ideas with me. I would like to know how it works for you.