As the ball drops, I can't help but reminisce about when I was younger. I’d spend hours breaking in my brand new planner with a variety of vibrant markers, meticulously crafting ambitious, color-coded New Year’s resolutions to guide my year ahead.
Working out at the gym 5 days at week.
Seven pounds down by Feb 1.
A trip to Sicily booked by March 1.
Drinking only two cups of coffee a day.
Reading one new book every week.
Engaging in an extensive night routine, complete with stretching, meditation, prayer, about four different face creams and 11 different vitamins.
Yeesh. Can you relate?
These plans would peter out one-by-one by Valentine’s Day! And of course, I’m not alone. Fueled by the promise of transformation and self-improvement, millions of hopefuls like me set New Year's goals every year.
Yet the stark reality is, most fall by the wayside within weeks. According to a University of Scranton study, only about 8% of people actually achieve their New Year's goals. What is it about resolutions that makes them so elusive, and how can we enhance our chances of success dramatically?
THE PITFALLS OF TRADITIONAL RESOLUTIONS
The high failure rate of New Year's resolutions has many causes:
Often resolutions are vague, unrealistic or lack a clear and simple plan of action.
On the flip side, when resolutions are super specific (7 pounds by Feb, 1), not hitting that precise mark can make anything less seem like a flop. (That reality has led some to embrace the kind and gentle, new trendy term "intentions" rather than "resolutions," but you do you.)
The initial burst of motivation that accompanies the new year can quickly wane when faced with day-to-day challenges.
Sometimes resolutions aren't compatible with our purpose or other big goals.
Some resolutions require new habits that take time and effort to form.
If New Year's is the only time of year we focus on goal setting, it's tougher to get in the right frame of mind.
Trying to tackle too many resolutions at once can overwhelm and dissuade us from pursuing any of them.
Many resolutions are born out of societal pressures rather than a genuine desire for personal growth, making them more susceptible to abandonment.
Looking at this culprit list, it’s a wonder any resolutions make it through!
HOW MY OWN RESOLUTION FADE INSPIRED MY FIX
About a decade ago, I decided to delve into understanding the challenges behind goal achievement and change. A striking side effect of this exploration was that it led to my own personal and professional transformation.
After a long career as a small business owner, CIO and COO, I transitioned into coaching and teaching. I rediscovered yoga; immersed myself in learning about mindfulness and set out to discover ways to make life more joyous, meaningful and intentional for people. I’d seen too many individuals not thriving or unclear about how to experience their potential, so I wanted to do something about it. These passions now define my practice, Planet Reimagine, where I work with individuals and organizations to create powerful new approaches to redefining their existence any time of year!
Enter the process I pioneered called Embark. It offers a potent framework for transformation and is readily adaptable to making New Year's aspirations an enduring success. Unlike traditional transformation approaches, Embark is so effective because it’s anchored by an unbeatable conflation of three powerful principles:
It’s this combination that make goals juicy and change lasting.
WHEN THE BALL DROPS, DON'T JUST RESOLVE, REIMAGINE!
So wondering exactly how to reimagine your resolutions? Here are six steps to apply Embark to shape your 2024 experience:
Breathe: Take a slow, deep breath. And another. Seriously. A few long, deliberate breaths with your eyes gently closed can infuse calmness and focus into the hectic rhythm of daily life. Incorporating this practice seamlessly throughout the day cultivates clarity and creativity, establishing a foundation for authentic and meaningful resolutions. That’s right, we’re talking about mindfulness here, and activities like stillness, slow and deep breathing, meditation, mindful eating and yoga are excellent ways to access it. This essential first step sets the tone for the entire process.
Mindfully Reflect: Now that you feel more relaxed and centered, begin reflecting on what means the most to you. Are there any aspects of your life that could be better aligned with your core values?
Reimagine: Now it’s time to infuse reimagination into the mix. To reimagine means to have a new idea about the way something should be. This is particularly potent when introducing freshness into our lives, be it a new goal, an unexplored dream or a habit previously challenging to alter. It entails envisioning your life from novel perspectives, injecting creativity into how you experience it. How could your passions or hobbies be reinvigorated? What could your career look like if you let yourself finally pursue your dream job? What would render the areas you reflected on in Step 2 bold and exhilarating? Nurture this innovative outlook, visualize the unfolding of your aspirations, and tap into deeper emotions and motivations. Picture success vividly, pushing the boundaries of possibility. This mental imagery becomes a potent, constant motivator, rendering your future self — and critically, the journey to it — more meaningful and alluring.
Clarify Your Ambitions: Energized by a spectrum of invigorating ideas, proceed to define your intentions with precision. What takes precedent? Specifically what do you want to achieve? In what timeframe? Whether it's related to personal growth, career advancement, travel, friendships, health or whatever is tickling your fancy, transform your aspirations into concrete, achievable objectives that infuse meaning, exhilaration and sprinkle of zest. Get very clear on how you will define success, and be bold, realistic and compassionate with yourself. Be certain to acknowledge — and bring under the success umbrella — the tremendous value in steady progress and lessons learned along the way.
Set Your Strategy: As my father would say, “Ya gotta have a plan.” He was so right! Without a clear strategy in place — one that fits your style, keeps you motivated and focused — the odds of your New Year’s resolutions coming to sustainable fruition are thin to none.
Implement Mindfully: As the journey toward resolution achievement unfolds, maintain the practice of deep breathing and consider integrating additional mindfulness activities. Mindfulness in implementing resolutions involves staying present and fully engaged in the process. Consistent, small and mindful actions build habits over time, fostering long-term success. Mindfulness also facilitates resilience in the face of setbacks, allowing for adaptive adjustments and course corrections as needed. Check in with yourself once a month to see if such tweaks are needed to make a goal fit better for you, and consider incorporating affirmations and having an accountability partner — a friend, a coach — to help you stay the course. Remember, these are your resolutions designed to enrich and invigorate your life experience, not pressure points to stress you out. And who needs that??
NOW YOU KNOW HOW TO REIMAGINE YOUR RESOLUTIONS!
MAY YOU EMBARK ON A HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Incorporating mindfulness, reimagination and strategy empowers you with a holistic and effective approach to setting and sticking to your New Year's resolutions. Remember, it's not just about the destination; it's about embracing the transformative journey and recognizing the value of the experience along the way. I extend my heartfelt wishes to you as your resolutions blossom into vibrant realities!
P.S. While Sicily may not be reclaiming its spot on my resolutions list just yet, a sojourn to the UK is in the cards. However, my coffee consumption remains steadfast at three cups per day, albeit sipped and savored mindfully.
Trie Angeleva, MA, MA
As a Mindful Dream-Job Career Coach, Owner of Planet Reimagine and with Manhattan as her backdrop, Trie thrives when collaborating with others to reimagine their life, work, leadership or organization. She developed and taught Career Success Preparation for The Media School at Indiana University, where she taught 21 classes. A 30-year vegetarian, adopted-dog mom and travel-happy meditator and yogi, Trie is a former CIO and COO and founder of Embark and The Love Monday Method. She has two Master's degrees, six coaching certifications and a certificate in Executive Leadership from Cornell University. Connect with Trie at firstname.lastname@example.org.