Why I Don't Make New Year's Resolutions: How to Create (and COMPLETE) Inspiring Goals!

Today’s blog post begins the new Intentional Living Series that I will be creating for you. Many of you who know me, are aware that I am very passionate about decluttering my life, improving my productivity, organizing and minimizing all the unnecessary things from my life to make room for becoming the best version of myself and for serving others with my passions. This process has been more than a physical one for me and so much more than taking trips to the GoodWill. In fact, this process has ignited new energy and drive (emotional and spiritual) to pursue more in my life.

I continue to received many requests to create tutorials on how one can work toward living more intentionally. After years of coaching others and clearing many a closet, I would like to start a series of tutorials to help you achieve these same results in your own life. While I will continue to create content that highlights my best health and wellness tips for you, I will be sprinkling in some lifestyle enhancement techniques for you as well, to assist you in living more intentionally. My tips are exactly that: tips. If these methods don’t work for you, that’s OK. An intentional or minimalistic lifestyle is not for everyone, although I believe that everyone can benefit from trying to simplify in an effort to make more time for pursuing passions and serving others with their talents.

As it is New Years, this seems like a perfect time to discuss my method for creating and achieving inspiring goals and to explain why I no longer bother with resolutions. In this post, I’m going to share with you the 5 easy steps I use to create these inspiring goals (and achieve them) each year. These methods I’m going to share with you are a combination of tips I have learned from experts such as Brian Tracey, Brendon Burchard, Chalene Johnson, Tim Ferris and many books on the subject of goal setting. I’ll put my favorite books as links for you, below.

You see, for many years I have tried to make incredibly inspiring goals that were perfection-driven and represented the ideal “me” I wanted to become in the New Year. I created spread sheets with action plans and “to be completed by” dates. I broke every resolution into small parts and made up my mind that I would accomplish every one. Very quickly, my enthusiasm dwindled from a bright flame to a faded spark. Needless to say, I would feel defeated and upset that I had not followed through with my commitments — and as a result, shame and guilt would ensue. Can you relate at all?

Why was I unable to follow through with my resolutions? The reason is rooted in scientific studies of how our brain works. You see the brain is a natural procrastinator in reposes to trying things that are overwhelming. However, if we can tap into our natural desire to achievesmall victories, we can create momentum needed for bigger picture goals to come to fruition. In addition, we need to create goals thatinspire us and when completed, provide a true sense of progress toward living our dreams.  My previous goals of perfection did not inspire me, nor did they help me to progress toward living my dreams. The combination of an overwhelming task and an uninspiring goal is the perfect recipe for failure and the inability to follow through.

After a lot of trial and error, I have discovered the key steps that have worked for me in creating and achieving dream goals. These five steps are: Imagine and dream big. Plan with precision. Execute the plan with daily tasks. Visualize daily. Review goals weekly. In this post, I’m going to teach you how to make seemingly daunting goals (but goals that excite you), as easy as carving out 15 minutes, which will ultimately lead toward creating your dream life.

Why is a method of goal setting so important? I believe that we have all been gifted with amazing God-given talents that are meant to ignite our souls and when harnessed properly, these talents are meant to be shared in service with the world. Having a proper plan of execution is the best way to ensure that you will live your best life.  So let’s get started with living our best life in 2018 and beyond…

STEP ONE: Dream Big.

To begin, I start by brainstorming 10-12 “Wouldn’t It Be Amazing if This Happened This Year!” Goals in my Moleskine journal.  The key is to make them very specific and measurable so that it is clear when the goal has been reached. In addition, it can’t be something that seems too easy. It has to be something that seems a bit far-fetched but when I think about it, I am totally jazzed. These aren’t goals that I feel I have to do or that are uninspiring (like remembering to take out the trash every week). These are goals that if they were to come to fruition, my level of excitement would rise significantly. In addition, I don’t make SMART goals, in the sense that they are “easily achievable”.  But, in relation to SMART goals, the overarching endgame must be specific, measurable, results-driven and time-sensitive.

It may take you two weeks, two months or the full year to accomplish this goal. It doesn’t matter. The key is that you have a realistic timeline to complete it and that you are consistent. So for example, I may create the goal of doubling my passive income generated from internet sales, within 6 six months. Or, I may want to decrease my body fat percentage by five percent in three months.

Once I have my list of “Crazy Cool If This Happens” Goals, I determine which of these 10 goals will make the rest of my goals irrelevant or make the rest possible.  I choose which one will be the catalyst to allow the others to come to fruition. This goal becomes my Focus Goal.  I usually have a Focus Goal for both my business or finances and one for my health. If you take the time to select the catalyst goal or Focus Goal, then achieving your list of all your goals will happen more naturally.

And, as an added bonus: If any of your goals can be accomplished in 30 days through repetitive action, then these can become your “30 Day Challenges”.  So in essence, if any of my crazy goals that are not Focus Goals seem to be possible by repeating an action on a daily basis, then I plan a month within the year, to make this goal my 30 Day Challenge for myself. I will still work on my business/finance Focus Goal and my physical Focus Goal with my 30 day challenge requiring an additional 10-15 minutes of my time.  For example, one of my goals last year was to improve my conversational French. I made it my 30 day challenge to practice 10 minutes of DuoLingo every day. However, it is possible that the 30 Day challenge can take place of the business/finance or the physical goal your are currently working on. During one month in 2017, one of my physical goals was to improve my front splits by two inches. So, my physical Focus Goal was to apply the best stretch method for achieving the splits, to my daily routine, for 30 days.

So, in summary, once you create your dream list of inspiring goals, you need to make each one specific and give it a time limit. Choose the Focus Goal for both your business life and your physical life that will help you accomplish the rest of your goals. Determine which goals from your list of 10-12 can become a 30 day challenge and plan for this during the up coming year. Chances are each goal, by itself, will seem gigantic and therefore taking the first step could be overwhelming. That is why step number two is crucial.

STEP TWO: Plan with precision

However, if your goal is gigantic (and it should seem so), taking the first step to accomplish your goal could be very overwhelming. So, with my Focus Goal, I break it down into the smallest incremental tasks possible, including: skills I need to learn, people I need to talk to, arrangements I need to make, books or courses I need to take, etc. The key is to make each incremental goal, so easy that getting started on this incremental goal is a piece of cake.  Again, I record all of these tasks in my Moleskine journal, first.

For example, if your goal is to lose 5% body fat in three months and you are brainstorming incremental tasks,  don’t say, “I will run 60 minutes three times per week.” Instead say, “I will get my running shoes on each day and step outside and take 10 steps.” Chances are you will feel accomplished for just putting your shoes on AND you will naturally want to surpass this easy task.  Or, a task may include 15 minutes to research a 12 week body building competition prep method and find any free guides on the internet, etc. The end result of these small tasks? You don’t feel like a failure and you are one step closer to your goal.

Another example that I have used: If you want to write a book, tell yourself you will write one sentence every day. Make this your 15 minute task for each day. Everyone can do that without feeling overwhelmed. In essence, keep your standards for goal setting high but the expectationsfor your daily task completion, low. By making the hurdle each day as low as possible (writing two crappy pages per day or 5 minutes per day as Tim Ferris used to write his New York Times Best Sellers) you will feel successful and you will often exceed this low expectation for the day. The bonus: this prevents the feeling of failure which is what often derails you. 

Part “B” of step two is this: once I have this very long list of all the tasks that make up a completed Focus Goal, I label each one based upon the timeline that it needs to be done by: “First, During, and Later.” If a task is a priority and must be done before the others it gets labeled with an “F” for First. If it is an ongoing task that needs to be done through out the project, it gets a “D” for During. If it is not a priority and can wait toward the end, it is labeled with an “L” for later. Now we are ready for step three.

Part “C” of step two is optional. I like to transfer my Focus Goal tasks, labeled F,D and L  to my electronic task list on my phone. From this list, I choose the tasks that need to be accomplished that month, that week and the next day, etc. and transfer the tasks to the appropriate list. This way, I have an electronic reminder of what I need to focus on for the week. For this I use the Wunderlist app (on my phone).

STEP THREE: Execute the plan.

So far we have created a list of 10-12 crazy, awesome, inspiring goals that make us smile. We have chosen the cornerstone piece that will be the catalyst or Focus Goal for achieving the rest of our goals. And, we have taken that Focus goal and broken it down into a brainstorm of very small, easy tasks that can be achieved in 15 minutes or less.  This list includes everything that will need to occur for our Focus Goal to be complete. However,  listing goals is one thing. Executing them is another. This is often where most folks fail and where dreams go to die. But you are not a dream killer, are you?

So, now that we have a clear task list of our Focus goal, I like to choose one to three items that can be done in 5 to 15 minute increments of time and do these first thing in the morning, after I have finished my morning routine.  I schedule this time at the BIGINNING of my day after my morning routine and before I leave for work.

For my scheduling of tasks, I like using the Pomodoro method for attacking my task list, each day. The Pomodoro technique uses work sprints of 25 minutes with a 5 minute break. This provides positive constraints that cause you to focus.  Every day, I schedule a minimum of two Pomodoro cycles (ideally four) and I plan on checking off a minimum of one Focus Task each day.  I set the timer on my phone for 25 minutes, then 5 minutes to keep me on schedule. Just accomplishing one task is enough to help create momentum in my satisfaction of achievement. During my 5 minute break I do something physical such as step outside, make a cup of tea, bounce on my trampoline; but, I make an effort to avoid all electronic distractions during this time. Everything is on “Do Not Disturb” mode. No e-mails, Facebook, Instagram, notifications, etc.

STEP FOUR: Visualize the plan and the accomplished goal(s) daily.

Every day, as part of my morning routine, I take the time to visualize my ideal, productive day and the process of completing important tasks to get me closer to the completion of my goal.  In addition, I practice visualizing the completion of all of my goals by year’s end and how it will feel. This ritual keeps my mind focused on what is important, to eliminate unnecessary time-wasters and creates enthusiasm that will help to motivate me in my efforts. I personally love using the 6 Phase Meditation method, a guided mediation on YouTube that helps walk me through this process.  Not only do I obtain the health benefits of a quieted and focused mind; but, I train my mind to target the necessary tasks to move me in the right direction. In addition this meditation focuses on compassion, forgiveness, gratitude and asking for Divine help. I’ll put the link to this video for you, below.

STEP FIVE: Review goals once every week.

In an effort to keep all of my goals fresh in my mind and to evaluate my progress of the Focus Goal, I take 5-10 minutes to review my goals each week (I do this on Fridays), using my trusty Moleskine journal as my record keeper.  Whichever Focus Goal I am working on, I take the time to evaluate my progress: what tasks do I need to complete in the next week, the next month to move me forward toward completion? What alterations do I need to make in my task list to keep me on the right trajectory?

Do not underestimate the power of this simple reflection.  You will be surprised how it will keep you on track and keep your subconscious working on analyzing and solving challenging scenarios while you are sleeping or doing something else.

Once you complete your Focus Goal, and you have completed all of the small tasks you outlined in the beginning, you can then determine which of your goals left on your list of 10-12 will be the second most important catalyst to assist you in achieving all of your goals. Repeat steps one through 5.

Well, that’s really it. 5 steps that I use to accomplish my goals; to keep me headed toward accomplishing my dreams and to create fulfillment and a sense of purpose in my life.  It really is true that the micro movements that you do every day are the key to growth and achieving your dreams and your macro goals; that happiness is found in progress.  I know that if you follow this method, you will achieve your greatest ambitions.

If you found my methods useful, then let me know by leaving a comment below. I would love to hear what goals you wish to accomplish this coming New Year! And, let me know how I can best serve you. What types of videos would you like to see that will enhance your health, wellness and lifestyle?

Happy New Year to you.  May this be the year that you: supercharge your health, satisfy your health and simplify your lifestyle.

XOXO, Dr. Linné

Here is a link to the Moleskine journal that I like: Moleskine Hard Cover Classic

Here are the books that I have read this year that helped to form my methods for goal setting:

Push by Chalene Johnson

Organize Tomorrow Today by Jason Selk

The One Thing by Gary Keller

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

The More of Less by Joshua Becker

Getting Things Done by David Allen

The Charged Life by Brendon Burchard