How to Reflect and Reset after New Year’s has Passed
Dare I ask how your New Years resolutions are going? If you read my last post, I mentioned how the springtime brings my personal rebirth where I revaluate and overhaul my life. Resolving my year’s faux pas in December/January was always so unrealistic as I, and everyone else was knee deep in every holiday indulgence. Cheese, wine, potica, second (even third) portions, complete inactivity, passive entertainment, you name it. At what point are you ready to make self improvement measures at a New Year’s party? You’re not, and that’s the point.
Let’s face it, life gives us many instances where we need that New Year’s overhaul, where we can/should buckle down and get serious about change. Life doesn’t cut circumstances into clean lines like that, and sometimes you need a reset in March, September, what have you. People pass, reality TV stars get elected, shit happens, and its at that moment that you need change, not on January 1. Today, I am going to share with you how I have successfully fulfilled resolutions through a full year, and how to continuously to check back in with yourself to collect, reflect, and strategize for growth. This blogpost is not to encourage you to change now, but to serve as a reference for the times when you are so exhausted from your bad habits and poor decisions and demand a difference. My methods will make a million times more sense with my downloadable templates. You can access them by clicking the black buttons beneath the designated titles.
If you are tired of being told to get off your phone, you’re probably the one who needs it the most. In order to get in touch with your reflective self, you need to throw the phone. Cutting off your beloved appendage will be the first step in centering yourself, and focus on only on one thing: improvement. If you remember anything from this post, aim for progress, not perfection, and it starts with putting your phone away, even for just this activity.
Now that your phone is put away, I hope that all of you have experienced the transformative powers of a guided meditation. This self-reflective practice plants you back into the ground and forces you to look inward in a way similar to an expensive therapist. A guided meditation is basically being lead and instructed through a mediative state through written text, audio recording, or video. I encourage you to look up guided meditation podcast or Youtube videos. For a more constructive approach, I ask myself the questions above when I need to restore balance when things feel out of control. You can download and print the PDF below to print and complete on your own terms by clicking on the black button titled, Self-Reflection Activity.
At long last, the point of strategy. You can only create new goals after identifying your weak points. Let me say it again. You MUST reflect on and accept your past behaviors in order to make new, realistic goals. If you don’t take this critical step, you are mindlessly setting impossible goals that you will never reach. Once you have completed this step, you can harness your weak points and employ them into actionable targets that you can actually reach over time.
Monthly ROI: A different approach to resolutions
A study done by Gail Matthews at Dominican University found that those who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not write them down. And with 92% of New Years goals failing by January 15th, there is a serious case for writing down your goals. At the beginning of each month, I create a Monthly ROI (Return on Investment), where I break down every area of my life and how I want to improve in each category. For me, my categories are: Academic, Professional, Personal, Home, Health, Fitness, Diet, Beauty, Sleep, Stress, and Relationships.
The only way I have been able to obtain and successfully execute long term goals is to beak them down into less daunting sizes. In order to make my goals more approachable, I write them following the business model, SMART. Meaning, your goals need to be: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time oriented. Yes, I have my template for you, but be mindful that it is filled in examples of how to specify your goals. You should delete the examples and fill in with your own goals.
The first time you fill out your Monthly ROI, you will be very optimistic for your goals to the point where they aren’t realistic. Keep your feet on the ground, evaluate your goals, then revaluate them again. Are they specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time oriented? If they aren’t, tailor them. What can you do this month, this week, today to achieve your goals? For example, if it’s your goal to get more sleep, you should set the goal of eating no later than 7:00pm, no technology past 8:00pm, and be asleep by 9:00pm to wake up at 5:00am for 8 hours of sleep. The examples in the template will make this easier to understand.
At the end of each month, usually the weekend approaching a new month, I go through each goal and ask myself the SMART questions. If each task wasn’t reached by the SMART standards, I don’t harass myself and simply readjust them to something more realistic for next month. That way, I don’t face the sense of defeat of not reaching a goal at the end of the month.
Now, with your completed ROI go into your monthly layout in your calendar and begin scheduling in the micro-measurements on a daily/weekly/monthly basis that will get you to your goals. Baby step by baby step! Again, reference the download for what this looks like. If your goal is to work out 5 days a week at 4:30 am, decide each day that week where you can realistically fit in a work out. Make it time specific! If you aren’t getting your workouts in after setting that initial goal, that’s when I would ask you your experience with exercise, and determine if 5 days a week at 4:30 am is an unrealistic aim for you. If you have never exercised in your life and sleep in until 11 am everyday, it’s way too unrealistic to start you at 5 workouts a week at 4:30 am. Growth only comes with sacrifice, and you need to sacrifice the things that aren’t serving you, like sleeping in everyday. Instead, cut the workouts down to once or twice a week at a more realistic time and grow from there.
Once you have gone into your calendar and scheduled in your micro-measurements of your ROI, zero in on your day to day. Every night, write in your calendar your list of goals/tasks for the next day. I mean, wake up at 5:00am, work out at 5:30 am, shower/get ready/eat by 8 am, first task, second task, etc. In doing this, you will go to bed with the comfort of knowing the you have everything in it’s place for the next day. It also helps get you out of bed faster in the morning because you know exactly what kind of day you have ahead. It takes the temptation of negotiating with your alarm clock because you know good and well what you have written for the day. And how sweet it feels crossing things off of that list throughout the day!
Above all else, always be checking back in with yourself. After everyday, every week, and at the end of each month. When you are approaching a new month, pull out your Monthly ROI and go through it with a red pen and adjust your goals to be more specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time oriented. Rewrite it with all of your adjustments and keep it on you. The second and equally as important aspect of the Monthly ROI is to have them near you constantly. Keeping your goals sheet on hand and easily within sight is what keeps you on track. Reference them everyday, it gives you direction and purpose when you are getting stubborn and temperamental. I keep each month’s ROI inside my planner, as well as on my desktop.
Now that you have your ducks all in a row, decompress. It takes a tremendous amount of focus to finish what I have just assigned you. Run a bath, skip the wine (I know, I’m sorry), and let that new path that you set for yourself excite your mind. You’ll feel peace. Commanding your time and energy is what gives you the sense of control. There has been an abundance of research that shows that the more focused you are, the happier you are. Celebrate that you are on the path of restoring life balance. If done correctly, you, your planner, and your ROI will change the trajectory of your future. Growth comes more easily and quickly when done this way, take it from a convert. Enjoy yourself, enjoy the bath, do a mask. I recommend the Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask. Don’t buy the full size, go to Sephora and get a sample.
I hope you found this post helpful, and please reference my downloads for the Self Reflection Questions and my Monthly ROI template. They make all of this a lot easier to understand and adopt. Thanks for reading, and share this post with anyone who could use a Not-So-New Year’s Refocus. Take care of yourself, and celebrate your fresh start ahead
Invest in you, you are the investment. You are the fortune.