Planning is only the first step. Here are the next 5.
I love making new year's resolutions. The idea of starting a new life with a new year and being able to track my improvements with the fresh count of the calendar feels so intriguing. However, I didn’t know how to make my resolutions come true until two years ago.
Before 2020, my journey of failing resolutions used to look like —
- I’d make a goal and plan with full enthusiasm.
- I dedicatedly set aside a particular time to work on it every day.
- I don’t see the results I wanted after working for a few days.
- I start losing motivation and missing days.
- I start thinking if it’s really necessary.
- Then I hear my favorite web series rolling out a new season, and my goal gets replaced by binge-watching. My resolutions get postponed to the next year (with a promise that I’ll definitely achieve them the next time).
This kept repeating every single year, and only now do I know that it doesn't happen with just me. According to Forbes, around 80% of people give up on their new year’s resolution by the second week in February. It’s not just about the new year, but in general any time of the year, only 8% of people can actually achieve their goals.
If you feel you’re part of the same boat, then this article is for you.
Over the years, I’ve found a pattern in my failure of achieving goals, and I tried to fix them right with various experiments.
My biggest success came when I wrote my second book, What did Tashi do? as part of Amazon Kindle’s Pen to Publish Contest. I unintentionally realized the five things without which any plan is meaningless. Read on, and crush your new year’s resolutions this time for sure.
When I was writing my book, I had a very strict deadline as the contest was ending on 9th February. I had the idea for the book for quite some time, but it wasn’t until I had this deadline that I actually sat down and wrote it.
This is the magic of setting a deadline for your plan. It really gets your work done!
When you don’t have a deadline, you don’t have any sense of urgency to start working on your plans. It just keeps getting delayed.
“A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.” ― Harvey MacKay
How to apply this
You can just say that “I will write a book”, but that doesn’t make any sense until you say “I will write a book by the end of this year”.
A deadline forces you into action. It helps you eliminate all the lower priority tasks from your list and the possibility of potential delays and excuses.
I had immense focus while working on the book because I really wanted it to get completed within the contest deadline. I set aside two to three hours daily to write at night. Even when I had a full-time job and at times when I was completely exhausted, I kept writing.
I could’ve spent time scrolling on social media, read a new book, or done other writing projects. But only because I had focused on this one thing, I kept doing it, and eventually, the day came when it got published.
That’s the power of focus. If you can’t focus, you can’t achieve anything. According to HuffPost, focus is the gateway to success. It’s very easy to get distracted with a ton of other things you can do, but focus helps you aim all your energy towards one thing. It prepares your body and mind to do only that and eliminates all distractions for you and you can produce extremely quality work that matters.
How to apply this
If you’re wondering how you can increase focus, meditation can help you. According to research from Columbia University, meditating for a few minutes a day can reduce distractions and increase focus drastically. If you do it regularly, you’ll be able to control your mind.
3. Self Awareness
I knew I was passionate about the story and it was something I can write. I was also aware that I can write at night. So after coming from work and doing other tasks, I used to write my book after dinner.
This self-awareness really helped me cut down all the confusion of “what-to-write and when-to-write” and helped me stay consistent.
You see, a confused mind is the real dream killer. When you don’t have the clarity of what you want, how can your goals be firm? Self-awareness brings clarity, which helps you stay honest with yourself, so you can make realistic goals and decisions.
You need to know your strengths and weaknesses and what things get you triggered. For example, if you plan to write a book, you need to know what topics you’re proficient in. Writing a book around your strength maximizes the chances of completing it.
You also need to know your peak productive hours, so you can plan your day for maximum output. For example, if it’s in the morning, then you know you have to write it then, else your entire day will get wasted.
That’s why self-awareness is so important to achieving your goals.
How to apply this
One thing that has helped me become self-aware is journaling.
Try it out if you aren’t already. It only takes 5–10 mins. Getting your daily review in text form will help you measure your day, and you can only improve something you can measure, right?
4. Self Control
It was the holiday season as the new year was approaching, and all my friends were in full party mode. I won’t lie, even I wanted to party and end the year with a bang. But I still said no to ALL of them because I had a book to work on.
One party, one trip, one celebration, one missed day on writing wouldn’t have hurt much, but I stayed firm on my decision. Because once you give in to distractions, they become twice as hard to deal with later on.
That’s where self-control comes in. According to Harvard Business Review, distractions will be there no matter how passionate you are. So you need to have self-control, to not give in to those distractions.
How to apply this
If you get weak in front of distractions, then meditation can also help you increase your self-control. It’s an all-in-one remedy to control your mind and get the maximum output without increasing the work hours.
I had the discipline to write every day. Even if I didn’t write, I used to edit the previous chapters. I knew I had to show up every day, else I’d lose the momentum and mess up the flow.
Discipline is one of the most important aspects of achieving your goals. You can pick up the biography of any successful man on this planet and you can find them advocating discipline for life success.
It’s no accident. Without deliberate action, without showing up daily, without putting in consistent work, nothing happens.
How to apply this
I make myself disciplined by self-motivation. I think how amazing my life will look after accomplishing the goal. And how worse it will look if I won’t. I increase the intensity of reward and stakes in my mind and paint it down to hang it right in front of my work desk to keep my inner motivation flowing.
With rigid deadlines and extreme focus, along with awareness and self-control, your inner motivation will make you disciplined enough that you won’t stop until the goal is achieved.
No matter how big or small your goal is, how much you want it to become real, most of us still fail to achieve it. That’s not because we don’t have the potential, but because we only plan, but don’t practice these five things.
To help you stick to your goals and new year resolutions, I have included the five other elements of success you need to follow if you have a burning desire to see your dreams come true:
- Deadline: If you don’t have an end date in mind, your dreams will take forever to come true. That’s why having a rigid, non-negotiable deadline is so important.
- Focus: There are hundreds of things you can do with your time, but the most productive work will happen when you dedicate all your energy to one thing. That’s where focus helps you, to stay undistracted by other options and focus your energy on the work at hand. Meditation helps you eliminate distractions and increase focus.
- Self Awareness: We need to know when we shine and when we fall dark. What interests us the most and what puts us off. When we have that clarity, we can make clear goals and work on them at the best time possible to make sure they are achieved. Journaling helps you become self-aware.
- Self Control: Distractions are just one click away from you. So you need to practice self-control to become more powerful than the distractions to be able to say no to them and work on things that matter. Meditation helps you become a self-controlled person.
- Discipline: You need to act on your dreams every day to make them come true, nothing happens just by sitting and staring at the ceiling. To become disciplined, put the right reward and stakes in place.
Now, you are fully armed to safely commit to your new year’s resolution and to really achieve it this time. If you’re committed to practicing these five habits along with planning, let me know in the comments. Let’s crush our new year goals together.