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Why I'm Not Making Any New Year's Resolutions

Christmas is over, and New Years has begun. You’ve probably already heard friends and family vowing to go to the gym every day, spend more time with their head in a book, or not eat sugar. It’s likely you’ve made some New Year vows as well. And so it has begun: the season of New Year's resolutions.

I won’t bother you with statistics about success and fail rates of New Year's resolutions. You’ve heard them all and likely ignored them. And, to be clear, I’m not here to bash you for making New Year's resolutions. I hope you succeed!

I’m here to tell you that I've decided that I’m not making any New Year’s resolutions.

Not. Even. One.

I’ve succeeded at some resolutions in the past, while failing at most others. And likely, that’s your story too. All hyped up, you buy a discounted gym pass, throw out all your junk food, purchase over-priced books at Barnes and Noble, and set up accountability with a few close friends. And still, if you’re like most, you eventually failed or stopped.

That failure probably causes guilt or shame. And that’s exactly why I’m not making a New Year's resolution this year.

Here’s the problem with New Years resolutions: they don’t connect with us personally. They aren’t who we are and aren’t connected with our life story. Say you want to lose weight, which is a great goal. So you set out, buy a gym pass, hire a personal trainer, buy fruit and veggies, and get to work! The first few weeks probably aren’t too bad, because you’re motivated! By week four and five, that chocolate cake from Costco starts looking mighty fine. You hit the two-month mark and are really losing motivation, so you skip a few gym visits, eat a little more liberally, and slowly start to exit the back of the bandwagon you enthusiastically jumped on in January. Three months hit and you’ve likely forgotten about your goals and resolutions. Maybe next year will be different. Maybe next January you’ll be motivated enough to push through. Queue the guilt and shame. 

 

Where does this failure stem from? Where does our motivation escape to? Why do we feel this guilt and shame?

It’s actually really simple: we don’t have a plan for our lives.

It may seem redundant to have a plan for life because life is so unpredictable. But I’m not talking about a plan that relies on the external causes and effects of life. I’m talking about an inward plan, a plan centered on actionable commitments with futuristic goals set in place. If we really want our goals to stick and become reality, we have to connect them to a part of who we are, or of who we are trying to become.

This is exactly why resolutions don’t work. They’re based on temporary goals, fleeting feelings, and dissolving motivations. They aren't connected to anything significant in the future, because we likely haven’t thought much about our future, let alone the type of person we want to be.

In place of making New Year's resolutions in 2017, I started something called a "life plan". It’s goal is to enable me to predetermine the person I want to be in the future, while providing realistic evaluation of where I currently am, and create actionable steps for me to become who I want to be. If we are willing to learn from our past, deal honestly with our current realities, and set up commitments to achieve our future dreams, there’s no need for motivation and emotional decisions.

So, how do you make a Life Plan?

Before we get to that, it’s really important that you read a book that describes the life plan in detail. It’s a book called Living Forward and is written by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy(purchase the book with the link to the right). In this book, you’ll be given the tools you need to create a life plan that helps you achieve your goals and become the person you want to become.

The way a life plan works is pretty simple. You first make a list of 6-10 things in your life that are the most important. These are called life accounts, and are meant to describe what is most important to you. 

Here are my accounts:

  1. Jesus
  2. Jenna
  3. Health
  4. Friends
  5. Lifework (career)
  6. Finances
  7. Leadership & Learning
  8. Adventure

These are listed in order of priority. Jesus is #1 in my life, followed by my wife, Jenna, and health. The purpose of listing these accounts is to recognize what’s most important in your life so you can set goals that reflect your desired outcomes in each account.

For example, under the Leader & Learning account, I listed a desire outcome to read 12 books in 2017. How was I going to accomplish this task? I made it as simple as possible: I read every day for 20 minutes. This enabled me to get through not 12 but 20 books this year! Not only did I achieve my goal, I exceeded it!

Now let’s back track. The life plan has a simple outline that I’ve created an example below:

  • Purpose Statement
  • Envisioned Future
  • Supporting verse or quote
  • Current Realities
  • Specific Commitments

Let’s take my account Leadership & Learning and show you what it looks like in my life plan:

The purpose statement is meant to give a short description of my purpose with this account. It enables me to quickly look at my account and be reminded of why I’m pursuing Leadership & Learning. Without a purpose, it’d be pointless for me to pursue anything.

Purpose Statement:

My purpose is to grow, learn, and lead so I can help others do the same.

Notice that I wrote this in the present tense. This is because I want to read this statement with the assurance that it will come to pass, if I continue striving to make it happen. I love this section primarily because it forces me to dream about who I want to be.

Envisioned Future: 

I’m a passionate, caring, and challenging leader. The people around me desire to grow from my example, and have adopted the old adage, “You’ll never arrive, so keep growing!” My leadership is given to me from God, who is the ultimate example of an excellent leader. I’m always trying to learn and grow in every area of my life. Because of this, people all around me are striving to learn and grow as well. I am a great leader in my marriage, family, and job.

Having Bible verses or quotes that connect your future to reality is important. It’s also inspiring, and gives you simple phrases that describe what you want your accounts to look like daily.

Inspiring Quotes:

“Leadership is influence; nothing more, nothing less.”  - John Maxwell

"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”  - Colin Powell

"Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.”  - James Cash Penney

Honesty is key here. Current reality is where you pull no punches and get real about where you are, the good and the bad. In order to find growth opportunities, you need to be honest about where you are so you can clear the path for where you’re heading.

Current Reality:

  • I meet with Greg Schroder every Monday
  • I’m reading a book 30 minutes each day.
  • I am mentoring several young men every month, but don’t have much of a plan for their growth.
  • BreadBox is moving forward slowly, but doesn’t have clear direction.
  • I’ve joined a Mastermind Group and it’s amazing!
  • I’m not listening to podcasts often enough.

The next obvious step is to create actionable activates that enable you to reach your envisioned future. These are called specific commitments and describe what you’re committing to in order to reach your goals. 

Specific Commitments:

  • Do a weekly review every Monday morning to review Life Plan and process.
    • ACTION: Record streak in Coach.Me app.
  • Listen to two podcasts a week.
    • ACTION: Record streak in Coach.Me app.
  • Expand BreadBox
    • ACTION: Schedule Fridays exclusively for BreadBox work.
    • Develop core focus for BreadBox (i.e. Podcast, Pinterest, Facebook, etc.)
    • ACTION: Schedule podcast interview with Disney executive by February, 2018
    • ACTION: Meet with BreadBox Team: Jenna, Jeff, Kyle, Greg, Audrey on January 18th.
  • Continue to read a book for 30 minutes every day
    • ACTION: Record streak in Coach.Me app.
  • Create mentorship plan to be used for 2018.
    • Spend Monday afternoon collecting and organizing mentorship plan.
  • Faithfully attend and participate in Mastermind Group.
  • Read Daily Declaration
    • ACTION: Record streak in Coach.Me app.

That’s what a life plan looks like! What makes a life plan effective is that they are unique to each individual. You may have more commitments in your life plan than I do in mine, or you may have less accounts. Regardless, the goal for a life plan is to create an image of the person you want to be in the future and start striving to be that person daily. 

Hopefully this article helps you see the importance of having a plan for your life. You and I both know that New Year’s resolutions are good in theory but often fail in the real world. Do yourself a favor: pick up the book Living Forward and start to develop a life plan that reflects where you are now and who you want to be in the future. I know it will bless you, as it has blessed me and thousands of others.