Read this before making any changes.
The 3 factors that make habits and resolutions stick.
New Year's goals and resolutions have a bad reputation, because we know the most likely outcome of those goals and resolutions is failure.
Heck, the entire gym industry's business model is built around this bad reputation. At this point, it's beyond reputation - it's just a fact.
But it doesn't have to be that way. Goals and resolutions aren't bad in and of themselves. Most of us just don't understand how to approach them. Each change we try to make in life - habits, projects, passions, career decisions, etc. - requires 3 distinct things to give it the greatest chance of success.
Clarity about what we're trying to accomplish.
Competing interests surrounding the change.
Commitment to the next steps.
Clarity should always be the starting point when wanting to make a change. That's because the desire for change starts out as a hunch or a nudge. We feel the internal pull to grow in a specific area, but the edges of that aren't defined. It's usually closer to a blurry image than a distinct portrait. You will be surprised how much momentum and energy you get by simply gaining clarity on what it is you're trying to do. It's the difference between knowing you need a vacation, and actually planning out where you're going. The former is tension, but the latter is excitement.
Competing interests is likely the least obvious of these 3 steps. Once we've gained clarity on what we're trying to do, we need to understand what competing interests exist. Let's say you want to build an amazing morning routine (worth the effort - ask me about mine). You get clear about when you're going to wake up and what you're going to do. But then you analyze your competing interests which I'll define as things that can disrupt the change you're trying to make, and you realize you've been attending at least 1 or 2 evening events per week for work. Having drinks at these events surely has an effect on your likelihood of successfully implementing your morning routine. So you then have to figure out 1) do I not drink at these events, 2) do I not attend these events, 3) do I skip my morning routine after these events, or 4) do I try to suck it up and make both happen. I'm not here to tell you the answer. But understanding and having a plan for your competing interests is what sets you up for the most success possible for any given change.
Commitment is the most obvious of the 3, but seems to be the most difficult for people. There is no fancy strategy for commitment. You either do or you don't. Not halfway. Fully. Partial commitment is the slippery slope that leads to the resolutions graveyard. One way I make my commitments more concrete is by labeling them as The Work. This term tells a story in 7 letters, because there's no change without work. I track The Work on a daily basis in my Forward Planner (currently only available to my coaching clients) because writing them down and checking them off continually reemphasizes my commitments. If you've struggled with commitment, steal my term The Work and write your commitments down every day. Check them off as you go. To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld's comments about his daily commitment to practicing stand-up comedy, his only job is to never break the chain.