For a lot of reasons you can read about here, 2016 wasn’t exactly the my best year. When it finally ended, I promised myself that my life would be different by the end of 2017. I had just finished Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and was inspired by her process for changing habits. Key to her success was articulating specific action steps and monitoring her progress, so when it came time for me to draft resolutions that would stick, I adopted her approach.
Amazingly, it worked! You can read in 365 Days to a New Me how I kicked butt in 2017, emerging a less broke, more healthy woman with oodles more confidence.
As 2017 draws to a close, it is time to draft my resolutions for 2018. Are you looking to draft resolutions of your own? Follow along as I replicate the steps I took in 2017 to draft my 2018 resolutions.
Step 1: Identify Areas of My Life I Wish Were Different
I don’t think I have ever had a problem identifying aspects of my life I wished were different. I’m too fat. I don’t make enough money. I don’t stick to my budget. I need to go to the gym more. I need to save more. I need to read more and watch less TV. I need to find a new job (or figure out how to get a promotion). Etc., etc., etc..
While I made a ton of progress last year, for 2018, many of the areas I identified in 2017 are still relevant. So, here is my list:
- Lose (more) weight and improve my fitness level
- Get (completely) out of debt
- Increase my savings rate
- Move forward in my career, either with my current employer or a different employer
- Invest time in my side hustle
- Do what I need to do to ensure I am not stagnating
- But make sure I allow time for whimsy.
This last one is new. Since August, I have been pushing myself pretty hard with this blog (which I really enjoy!) and recognize that I need to ensure more balance. Blogging is fun but it isn’t the only thing I find fun and I need to add back in some of those other things.
Step 2: Prioritize The List From Step 1
Given my success in 2017, I feel okay with having seven areas I want to work on. If you have a list that is this long (or longer), feel free to narrow it down to just two or three items. This process is meant to help you be successful. Feeling overwhelmed is the last thing you want!
Step 3: Draft Action Steps For Each Area
A resolution to “lose weight” isn’t helpful. What I need is to articulate the specific actions I will take each day that will result in weight loss. These steps will be ones that are easy to implement, track, and celebrate!
What does this look like? Here are examples:
- Only eat foods with less than 4 grams of carbs per serving, 98% of the time (NOTE: I am on a ketogenic diet)
- Exercise 30 minutes 3-4 times per week with one session focused on strength training
- Turn off lights by 11:30 p.m. on Sunday-Thursday, 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday
For my remaining goals, here are the action steps I have drafted.
- Get out of debt: continue to keep spending as low as possible and throw everything else at my debt until it is gone (estimated April 2018). Once my debt is gone, rebuild my three month emergency fund in an easily accessible, high yield savings account.
- Increase my savings rate: continue to save 8% of my income in a pre-tax retirement account until I have finished paying off my debt. At that point, maximize my contributions to my workplace retirement account, my Roth IRA, and my Health Savings Account (HSA), investing more in after-tax accounts than pre-tax accounts, and continue to do so until retirement.
- Move forward in my career, either with my current employer or a different employer: when advertised, apply to the position I want to move into. If I am not selected, begin a job search.
- Invest time in my side hustle: continue to implement work processes that will ensure a strong foundation for growth. Identify a client goal and pursue it.
- Do what I need to do to ensure I am not stagnating: continue to limit non-sports TV to no more than two hours most days, blog regularly, read at least one non-fiction book each month, and listen to podcasts that make me think.
- But make sure I allow time for whimsy: spend at least four hours each week relaxing with friends, watching mindless TV, and just generally not pushing myself (or being worried that I am not getting something else done).
Step 4: Create a Resolutions Tracking Chart
For the action steps I need to do daily or weekly, I find that tracking my progress is very effective in making sure I remain focused. Not all of the items above make sense to track that often. For example, the savings goals are probably more likely to happen if I just automate it and not think about it again. Here is my January 2018 Resolutions Chart:
What did you think of my process for drafting resolutions that stick? Do you think it would work for you? If so, I offer a free e-course that will walk you through each step. To sign up, complete the form in the side bar!
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