Don’t define success as sticking to a new year’s resolution. Your dreams are bigger than that.
Each new year brings a sense of opportunity and renewal. It’s a great time to choose new adventures, pursue your dreams or become a better you. But you don’t need new year’s resolutions to make it happen. In fact, resolutions undermine your success.
I’ve made new year’s resolutions to eat better and hit the gym. After a few weeks of healthy living, I’d break my resolution—usually by eating a bag of chips and skipping the workout. After I’d messed up once, I had internal permission to do so again. Or worse, I’d feel like I had failed rather than recognized the weeks of success I’d sustained, dusted myself off, and kept going.
The problem is that resolutions are too simple and limiting. They get us started but don’t provide the flexibility to change course or start again if we get off track.
Instead, if you have some plans for the year ahead, spend some time defining why you want what you want.
When you think about it, your goal is always bigger than a particular action or outcome. For example, do you really just want a promotion or to lead others at a more senior level? Do you just want to take a trip or have some rest and relaxation with new adventures?
When you’ve found your why, you don’t need a resolution, because the way forward is bigger than any single idea or commitment.
Say you want to have more energy and look great in your skinny jeans in Florida next month (I didn’t say that your why needed to save the world). Then one missed workout doesn’t mean you haven’t met your goal. Even if you’ve had a bad day, your dream is still attainable. Plus, you can visualize the white sandy beaches while running on the treadmill. That’s way more motivating than beating yourself up for skipping a workout.
It works for big stuff too.
Last January, I knew I wanted something more in my life. When I pinpointed the desire to write and share my ideas, a whole series of events and opportunities unfolded. Had I “resolved” to write my book in the year ahead, I likely would’ve lost momentum, not knowing who I was writing for or what I’d do when it was done. Or if I’d written the book, I would’ve missed the other blogs and speaking opportunities that have given me clarity of purpose and ways to see my dream of sharing my ideas with others come to life.
When we attach success to a limited notion or specific criteria, we’ll eventually fail—something or someone won’t meet our expectations. But, if we know why we want to do or achieve something, many pathways can emerge. Opportunity hides in the most unexpected places if you keep your eyes open and head up.
We can’t resolve to change. But we can figure out the real reason we’re driven to try new things in the year ahead. Then we can pursue our true goal and find success at every turn. You’ll be amazed at the number of ways you can make it happen.
So this year, skip the resolutions and see your dreams come true instead.