5 Steps to Creating the Life That You Want in 2016

​I’ve broken more New Year Resolutions than I care to remember. There’s something about January 1 that inspires many of us to create lists of things that we think we should do but funnily enough these are often lists of things that we don’t actually want to do! So last year I made no New Year Resolutions, instead, I decided to really spend time thinking about the few things that, if I accomplished them, would really make 2015 a success.   Here’s the process I followed:

1. Focus on only a handful of goals.

​Instead of making a mile-long list of goals (hello overwhelm…and inaction!), it helped me to focus on three major areas of my life, myself – meaning my physical and emotional health, my relationships- ensuring I made time to connect with family and friends, and, of course, my business – my intentions for Underpinnings and for serving my customers.  In each category I then identified 2 or 3 outcomes that would make a meaningful positive impact if they were to be achieved.

For example, maybe one of your desired outcomes is to deepen your relationship with a significant other or your children. A goal in that category could be something as simple as spend 10-15 minutes of uninterrupted time connecting with the person on a daily basis.

2.  Make your goals actionable.

​Ok, so we’ve all heard this one before. Goals should be specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART). I’ve never liked the idea of “realistic”, since I find it can limit options…if I were being realistic I would not have left a full-time corporate career to open a small business…didn’t I know that most small businesses fail within 3 years?!
For my inner rebel I’ve replaced “realistic” with “relevant to your current life circumstances”.  Feel free to use whichever ‘R’ speaks to you more. Notwithstanding my tangent, thinking “SMART” has a lot of merit.  What, specifically are you going to do that will move you closer to your desired outcome? How will you know when you’ve accomplished it? Using the example of wanting deeper relationships – the specific, measurable action item is to spend 10-15 minutes daily with the person. It will be easy to tell if you are accomplishing this goal – if 2 weeks pass and there’s been no quality time, well, something needs to be adjusted, which brings me to…

3. Track your progress. 

​Creating and writing your goals is the first step; but reviewing them is what will keep you on track. Schedule time each week, maybe Sunday evening as you are getting ready for the week ahead, to review your goals and the action items.  Have you been doing what you said you would?  If not, why not? What adjustments can you make? Tracking your progress helps you keep motivated, and, well, on track.

4. Make yourself accountable.

​By the time March rolls in, will you still be working toward your goals? The reality is many of us would have given up on some of our targets. It helps to have an accountability partner to prod you when you feel like giving up or when you’re not taking any action. But you need to be selective in whom you choose. Your accountability buddy should be someone who is committed to helping you improve, whose opinion you value and who can help keep you motivated in a way that does not criticize you

5. Set goals based on how you want to feel – not on what you want to have.

​This might be the most important step, what do the outcomes you are working towards mean to you? I find that when there’s an emotional connection between me and my goal, I have a higher chance of achieving it. Let’s go back to our goal of improved personal relationships.  How would it feel to have that deeper connection? Would it bring more balance to your life? Would you feel happier? More able to be fully invested in the other areas of your life if your relationships are solid? It’s easier to be committed to accomplishing a goal when you can visualize how you would feel when you accomplish it.
There’s a saying that if you don’t know where you want to go then any road will take you there.  2016 can be just another year or you could make a decision that it will be a GREAT year!  If you don’t have any goals for next year yet, I encourage you to start thinking about them and writing them down.  It’s a basic human need to strive for improvement and personal growth.  Let us know, how will you be different at the end of 2016…tell us one of your 2016 goals and one action item in the comments below.