We all know how redundant write-ups on resolutions can be. At the turn of every new year, hitting up the news on Google, Yahoo, or even Bing (yeah, right) will show you link after link of ways to stick by your New Year’s Resolutions and avoid failure like last year.

But why is it you continuously end up clicking on these same articles each year, that give you the same rehashed verbiage of why this year is THE year to stick to your resolutions?

Don’t get me wrong, resolutions are beneficial. I make one or two for myself each year. However, I don’t find myself scouring these regurgitated articles year after year because I DO stick with the resolutions I choose for myself.

I’m not trying to brag or sound conceited. Sticking by resolutions isn’t difficult, and you stick by them too as long as you do these two crucial steps during the process:

Make A Blueprint

Jenny Blake, a former Google job strategist and career coach, has helped hundreds of people with the weight of planning one’s year and making it both productive and feasible.

In her book “Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One”, she explains how a visual diagram of your goals and interests, known as a mind map (or blueprint, as we like to call it), is crucial in helping you figure out the best career or hobby change you need next to make a more successful, and happier, you.

In minutes, you can have this blueprint completed.

First, you write down the year at the center of the sheet of paper or whiteboard you’re using.

Second, you draw spokes out from the center-year which house individual themes that you value. For example, a spoke may say Fun, Career, Romance, or Family.

Third, you draw a subset of spokes from each of the original spokes that go into more detail of the ways in which you wish to improve in that area. For example, in the Romance spoke you may write ‘Find a long-term relationship’, or in the Career spoke you may write ‘Network more confidently and attend a conference every other month’.

map

There you have it; a year-long blueprint, unique to YOU, is now at your disposal. The secondary spokes don’t need to be very specific.  The intention is that getting the basis of your goals down on paper, while being visually pleasing to look at, will have you catching yourself gazing at it when zoning out while at your cubicle.  That’s right, you can hang this blueprint on your cubicle wall and add to it or cross completed sections off as often as you like.

Track Your Progress

It is crazy how much easier a resolution is to follow when you track your progress. The problem most people face even when they know to do this is the difficulty in figuring out how to actually track the goal.

I had been going to the gym for four years once January 2016 arrived. Up until that point, I was consistently going but not satisfied with the frequency as to which I was going. I often found myself going a few days in a row, and then before I knew it, four or five days would pass without me going to the gym and I’d be angry with myself.

The thing is, I knew I was going a lot each month, but I never knew what exactly this ‘a lot’ quantified to. I would just think I went ‘this amount of times’, never actually knowing how often I was going, and whether or not I was going as consistently as I was assuming.

I was sick of not knowing exactly how often I was going to the gym, so in January 2016 I made the resolution to go to the gym at least 20 times each month for the whole year.

What did I do to track my progress? Well, being in a cubicle and all, with that trusty mini-calendar you’re given each year, I started circling each day’s number with red pen for the days I went to the gym. Each month that ended, I was able to quickly count how often I went and whether I did in fact go 20 times in the month.

calendar

Further, I could plan my weeks around meeting this goal. If one week remained in the month, and I had gone only 14 times up until this point, I would know I’m about to have a busy week at the gym and go the six times I need to, to meet my goal.

Now, it’s such a great habit and feasible goal I’ve gotten myself into month-by-month, that I haven’t even considered it to be a resolution for 2017; it’s just part of my life now.

Ball’s In Your Court Now

Jot down primary spokes, then secondary spokes, and get that blueprint made for the year. Then track your progress, quantify it, and make the goal concrete and physical.

As an aside, don’t forget to make sure your goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound!

– Ryan

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