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The problem with New Year's Resolutions

When I was younger, I used to set New Year's resolutions that never delivered on the intended change. In some instances, it was because achieving my resolution required others to show up in my life in a way I had no control over. Other times, I set resolutions for things I wasn't truly committed to but felt external pressure to do.

This time of year, there are a lot of people encouraging you to set resolutions, goals or vision boards for the New Year. There's even a host of people claiming, "New Year, new you!" As though the turning of the clocks resulted in an automatic upgrade - alas we are not smartphones.

While these practices and adagios can feel fun and inspiring in the moment, they don't have the power to make a lasting impact. In fact, most people quit working on their New Year's resolutions by January 19th.

Why don't these efforts work?

Because they lack substance, depth and a pathway forward.

At the end of the day, all intentional change requires intrinsic motivation. This means, one must have an internal drive to see their resolutions thru. On the surface, it's easy to agree to improving one's eating habits or exercising more. Those are very rational changes to make. But without emotional buy-in on a deeper level, it won't work.

Getting to the heart of the change one deeply yearns to make requires self-awareness gleaned through honest self-reflection.

Taking advantage of the opportunities the New Year presents isn't about fulfilling others' expectations of you. It is not helpful to succumb to peer pressure. Nor is it worth internalizing subtle messages of the things you need to have or do in order to be "good enough."

This is why a practice of honest self-reflection is critical for initiating lasting positive change. One must distinguish between the internalization of external pressure versus your inner wisdom and knowing.

Initiating the change you want to create in your life doesn't just happen. It takes work. Luckily, you have the capacity to learn how to do this work, as long as you're open and willing.

In addition to engaging in honest self-reflection, one must also chart a path forward. This means identifying who you're going to be and what you're going to do in order to turn your vision into reality.

Charting your path forward is where planning gets extra tricky. It's easy to set decrees about all the different things you're going to start doing everyday to achieve a goal. But such good intentions go awry when not tethered to reality.

Indeed, effective plans take into account your capacity for seeing things through. We all have the same limited resources of time, energy and attention. Your plans must take your limited resources into account.

What's more, Peter Drucker famously said, "Planning is a continuous process."

There are a lot of components to creating positive, lasting change that are revealed only after you start doing the work. Therefore, your path forward must include routine planning practices that enable you to evaluate progress, apply lessons learned, and course correct.

It's imperative that you spend an adequate amount of time prioritizing and planning on a routine basis in order to fulfill your intentions for 2023. In other words, you must have go-to practices that enable you to keep the plan alive.

I don't share this to discourage you from making New Year's Resolutions but to empower you to succeed in creating positive, lasting change. This is a great time of year to take stock of where you've been and consciously choose a destination for where you want to go. You deserve to set yourself up for success by investing the time, energy and effort necessary to establish intentions for 2023, and equip yourself with the skills to fulfill them.

Unlike when I was younger, I no longer have a list of unfulfilled New Year’s resolutions. Applying the insights above has enabled me to consistently turn ambitious aspirations into reality for the last eleven years. Things haven’t always gone as planned but that’s ok - being nimble and open has many unexpected benefits.

Do you want to create lasting positive change in 2023 but feel overwhelmed? Are you ready to equip yourself with planning tools and practices that'll empower you to thrive in 2023? Join me and fellow wholehearted professionals for the 2023 Annual Planning Workshop where I'll show you how to be more aligned, purposeful, focused, fulfilled and happy. Signup online here today to take advantage of the Early Bird Discount.

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