As we say farewell to 2020, the excitement is palpable. This year forced us to change in ways that we never anticipated, and to many, the new year feels like a chance to return to normalcy. On the contrary, I think 2021 will bring more change than ever before. The only difference is now we’ll be the ones calling the shots. The pandemic pushed us to adapt out of necessity; now, we have the chance to make our own choices. Where do we want to live? What do we want to do for a living? Are we happy with the lives we have built for ourselves? These are the questions that many of us are asking, and the possibilities are endless.
New year’s resolutions shouldn’t be about setting lofty goals. They should be about inviting new intentions.
In my eyes, the traditional concept of setting new year’s resolutions is outdated and unrealistic. At the end of every year, we try to sell ourselves on a list of things to do and boxes to check as a catch-all remedy to somehow become our best selves overnight. January 1st hits and all of a sudden, we’re eating healthy and running four times a week. While there’s nothing wrong with self-improvement, I find that we’re oftentimes setting these resolutions based not on our own desires, but on what society expects of us.
This year, I invite you to try something new. Instead of setting huge goals, try setting new intentions for what you want your life to look and feel like moving forward. Rather than hitting targets and finishing projects, focus on forming healthy habits, building new routines, and reflecting on your progress (good or bad) on a regular basis. Here are some of my suggestions for how you can enrich your daily life this new year:
1. Strive for incremental improvements
The typical new year’s mindset has convinced us that transformation is an annual endeavour. Once a year we sit down and map out huge goals, and then once again at the end of that year, we sit down and assess where we went wrong. Instead, strive for incremental improvements over the course of the entire year. This means breaking your larger vision down into smaller, actionable steps and checking in with yourself regularly to assess how things are going. For instance, you might have a goal to save $10,000 in the New Year. If you look at that amount as a whole, it might seem overwhelming. However, if you break it down into quarterly, monthly, or even weekly spending habits, the goal becomes more attainable. By working in small increments, you give yourself space to build the habits necessary to achieve the bigger vision. Also, you can more easily course-correct when you fall off track.
2. Try habit-stacking
Another way to better ensure lasting change for the new year is to get into the practice of habit-stacking. Habit-stacking is the process of tacking a new desired behavior onto an existing healthy habit. For example, I work out three times a week regularly, but I am notoriously bad at eating breakfast. To make things easier for myself, I have now tacked a long shower and healthy breakfast onto the end of my workouts. Just like that, I have turned one healthy habit into three and built a morning routine that supports a happier, healthier me.
3. Regular reflection
Don’t limit yourself to just end-of-year reflection. Prioritize regular sessions to assess the progress you’ve made (or haven’t made) on the intentions you set at the top of the new year. My husband and I sit down every Sunday to reflect together. We go over our week and write down what went well, what felt great, as well as what could be done better in the coming week. Sticking to this process makes it much harder to abandon your resolutions because you’re constantly keeping yourself accountable.
4. Scale down your list
Before the new year (or new quarter), make a list of everything you want to achieve. For each item, write down what you want to do, why it matters, and the steps you can take to get closer to that end goal. Now, shorten the list to only those things that matter the most. What changes would make the most meaningful impact on your life? Those are the goals you should keep. Why? Making a short list helps you to prioritize and channel your new year energy into the things that actually matter most. When you cling to long laundry lists of goals, you often end up abandoning half of them and finishing the year lamenting all the things you didn’t stick to.
5. Pinpoint what fuels you
Dig deep into what fuels you. Are you driven by helping others like family and friends? Maybe you’re more motivated by a desire to be your best self. Whatever your goals are, make sure they are your own rather than something dictated by society or the people around you. This will help you to set clearer intentions around your goals for the new year.
From business owners and entrepreneurs to everyday people, 2021 will be a year of great changes. For consumers, this is a year to reassess the products and services you buy and how they align with the vision you have for who you want to be and how you want to live. For business owners, now is the time to listen closely to your consumers’ wants, needs, and pain points. Ask yourself, how can I better serve my target audience? How can I make sure my users and team members are taken care of? As consumers elevate their lives, what can we do through product messaging, innovation, or service to be a part of that new picture? By setting purposeful intentions, we ensure more lasting, meaningful change for the new year and beyond.