New Year’s resolutions are complicated things. Some people love them (see: gym owners), while others abhor them (see: chocolatiers), but most people seem to have a more ambivalent or even downright contradictory relationship with them. Wouldn’t you like to watch less TV? But wouldn’t you also love it if your computer was hooked up to your TV? It’s not always simple to decide what goal to take on. There are ways to make your resolutions doable, though. Since 2002, Johanna Beyer, founder and principal of Mill Valley–based On Your Path Consulting, has been working one-on-one with people who are at a crossroads in life. Her specialty is supporting business leaders who feel unfulfilled in their careers and are ready for something challenging, purposeful and new. Corporate clients have included Trace 3, Applied Silver, the Ministry of Education in Singapore, Mondo, Go Nimbly and IBM. Here are some of her tips for imagining realistic change and making it happen.
1. Rather than set a limited goal, let yourself imagine what true success looks like in your life. It’s the qualities, not the hard-set resolutions, that will ultimately inspire you to move toward your vision each day. For example, if this is the year that you want to start a loving relationship, let yourself imagine what your life would look like with the right partner. What are the qualities that you are looking for in someone else? What kinds of activities do you imagine doing together and what kind of person do you want to be when you are with this amazing partner?
2. Now that you have opened up your thinking, return to the present moment and be the best person you can be. Do not wait to enjoy the imagined activities of the future; bring them into your life now. By waking up each day and doing your best to be your fullest self, you have just increased the odds of meeting your goals by 100 percent.
3. In setting resolutions, ask yourself why this would make a real difference in your life. Ask yourself if you are truly inspired by this resolution or just motivated by it. There is a big distinction. Motivation is usually driven by a mentality that you “should” meet this goal; inspiration is about following your heart and what naturally gives you energy and fulfillment.
4. Another question to keep in mind: how does your resolution allow you to impact people in a positive way? When you are doing what comes naturally to you and it has a positive effect, that’s a sign that you are living with purpose. Taking all the focus off you and seeing the bigger picture is extremely inspiring. So instead of saying you want to lose 10 pounds, think about all the ways you could be with people and help people if you were in better shape.
5. Make sure you think about the smallest thing you can do each day that gets you closer to achieving that goal. The smaller the step the better, because you will not get as frustrated and overwhelmed. It is amazing to see the shifts you can make over time when you take little actions each day.
6. And finally, celebrate the small successes and be grateful for the mini-achievements you have managed each day.