Some people spend this time of year crafting their New Year's Resolutions, many of which last a few weeks before old habits rear their heads. Some others consider resolutions a waste of time.
I'm somewhere in the middle. Resolutions tend to send people into shame spirals, both during their planning and when they end up not becoming a new way of life. Shame spirals can become a learning tool but typically they're an emotional garbage fire and a waste of energy.
New Year, New Approach
A few years ago, after realizing that New Year's resolutions just didn't fit with my rebel attitude, I was introduced to a new idea: tuning into the vision I have for my future and creating a plan of action to get there. This approach takes time, effort, and insight, but it has become so much more meaningful and accomplishable (maybe a word, maybe not).
When I think about my yearly planning and my now general approach to most things in life, I always think about the movie, "What About Bob?" with Bill Murray. A classic for anyone who likes Bill Murray and/or therapy. It's the classic cautionary tale of a therapist and his client with poor boundaries. Thankfully, it doesn't end in murder but instead with a marriage.
My favorite thing about the movie? Why, it's BABY STEPS!
The therapist character's fictional book about taking small steps to lead to relief from mental health issues. Even though "What About Bob?" is a ridiculous movie, this book and the mentality are a hidden nugget of wisdom. It's a much better way of approaching life, breaking down seemingly impossible or difficult things and just taking one tiny step at a time.
Here's how this baby steps approach plays out in my new year planning:
- I use a Vision Planning template created by a friend as a place to start. You can download it, edit to your needs, and reuse or adjust as needed. Many small businesses use a similar approach in their planning and as a small business owner with a busy life and family, I find it helps keep me focused on goals to treat myself as important as my business. Plus, this method helps you link your lifetime goals to your 3-year, 1-year, and next three months, so you can make sure to be on track with accomplishing that list.
- Taking a strengths test each year (or two). Or some other self-awareness tool. Each year I find a new personal awareness tool, like Meyers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder, High5, DISC, or the Enneagram test to learn a bit more about myself for the coming year. It helps me know what skills come natural and which areas I need to build up resiliency and I do find that they shift over time. As a personal development junkie, it's fun to see and relearn who I've become since I last took each one of these.
- Financial planning; honestly, this is the least exciting part for me but the most necessary to do. We all have bills to pay and the need to balance those with our dreams or goals, so it's important to think about myself, my family, and my business finance goals for the next year before I can think about how to make them happen!
- Review my journals and gratitudes from the previous year. Since our family captures our most grateful thing of the day, I can go back for three years now and see what has been important and meaningful to me each day.
- My favorite part: my word of the year and card of the year! The cards were a new addition to my life this year at a friend's suggestion and something I find they are a nice way to find focus when times feel crazy. For my word of the year, I think about that vision I have for the coming year, the goals, and what I want or need to make that happen and let the words come to me. From that list, I try them all on for a while and make sure they line up with everything else on my vision plan. My word for 2021: Alignment
Everyone has their own way of making progress and for some people, diving into the deep end with a big resolution is the way to go. However, my "Baby Steps" approach has been so much more manageable and effective than when I used to fling into the new year and then fizzle out after I hit the first road bump.
If that last year has taught me anything (and oh, boy... has it), it's that we can't count on life as we know it or the status quo remaining just that. Gyms aren't functioning as they once were and so many of us are still working from our homes. My vision and plans often need to pivot from what I lay out in late December but by making the goals into smaller steps, I can take those small steps just one at a time.
Stay Rebellious, Happy Rebels,