Why wait 12 months to review and reset the goals in your life? Why not adopt the much more manageable approach of setting each new month as a kind of personal new year?
The whole “new year, new me” is, let’s face it, a bit out of touch. With the ever-changing circumstances of daily living, while you might be on track to hit your targets one month, new obstacles may arise that might need some negotiating around to stay on track for the next. Furthermore, research shows that making New Year’s resolutions is largely, statistically unsuccessful. So why do some many people still seem excited every New Year to attempt a new beginning? Well, it’s mainly because we’re all eager for some significant event that “gives us a sense of permission” and lets us feel like we can “renew” ourselves, make changes, and set new goals. The calendar New Year gives us the opportunity both psychologically and culturally to do just that. And who doesn’t love a new beginning, right?
I’m not suggesting that we still can’t use the New Year as a chance to spark newness in our lives, but instead of letting the grand feat of changing ourselves, or our lives all land on just one day of the year, why not try making the 1st of each month like a version of your own personal new year, it turns out that this is a recognized goal setting strategy used by athletes and top performers in almost every field.
Setting a “monthly new year” allows us to make incremental gains toward our overall goals and it also gives us the chance to change course slightly without feeling like “we have failed” at our resolutions if we’ve had to make some “tweaks” to our initial plan.
Only relying on the New Year as our sole motivator to instigate change is like standing at the bottom of a mountain and looking up at its peak far off in the distant clouds and thinking “How am I ever going to get up there?” No wonder so many people feel overwhelmed by the scale of the journey ahead toward their new year’s resolutions and give up. Emma Mahony, a therapist at Better Life Therapy in Philadelphia is an advocate of monthly goal-setting and appraisal: “People end up failing with new year’s resolutions because of the intense, concrete, absolute goals that are so far off from where we are now,” Mahony said.
Like with any journey, it all begins with small steps which build upon each other, and the key to achieving our goals is often just focusing on “the next right step.” With each new step that we take, the next part of the path is revealed.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” –Chinese proverb
The Power of Pivoting
The monthly new year gives us 12 chances to get it right instead of one; you can apply it to anything in life, a business, a relationship, financial or health goals. Breaking down our goals into shorter-term objectives within a longer-term strategy is an approach used by the likes of Richard Branson and Bill Gates because they know that it helps them achieve great things. And what makes this goal-setting strategy so effective is its alignment with adapting.
When you think about it, everything in life is about how well we can adapt, whether it’s starting a new job, moving to a new country, having children, moving house, or maintaining a relationship, life requires us to constantly adapt to our circumstances. By using the 1st of each month as an opportunity to take stock of our progress and measure what’s working and what’s not, we can pivot and adapt our strategy which is more likely to keep us on track to meet our goals.
Small Wins = Big Motivation
Another reason why the monthly new year is effective is that it gives us the chance to take note of our “small wins” and an opportunity to celebrate these each month, which in turn sparks more motivation to spur us on.
It’s so important to celebrate our improvements, no matter how small. Making time to feel joy about our progress each month adds fuel to keep going!
And another great tip to help increase our motivation and chances of success is to write down a review of your goals as part of your monthly new year check-in; writing down our goals has been found to increase the chances of achieving them by 42%.
So whether it’s learning a new language or getting fit, whatever your personal goals are, embracing the practice of the monthly new year can help you make a small start towards whatever big goals you have set for yourself without getting too overwhelmed.
– Catherine Smith
Photo by Rakicevic Nenad (Pexels.com)