A new year is here. We have landed in 2021. Usually with a new year, new resolutions are made. There is a kind of honeymoon phase where enthusiasm rules. You feel energized after the holiday season, pumped with the endless possibilities and promises you have made to yourself. You might have taken the time to reflect and write down your goals. Some of you have perhaps drafted a plan based on the goals you have set yourself to accomplish this year.
What happens when excitement starts to wear off? Maybe you are busy back to your daily routine or you are feeling lazy. Your critical inner voice jumps in, gets louder and louder, until you only hear I can’t do it, this is a crazy idea, dreams never come true, I don’t have time for this right now, I’ll do it later.
Before you notice you are lacking commitment and you have stopped taking action. Suddenly it seems your inner voice is giving you good advice and you must not ignore it. Can you foresee where this mindset leads you? Yep, your goals will not be achieved and your dreams will not become reality. A few months later or before the next year comes along, you will look back and probably see no purpose of setting concrete goals or even having dreams. After all, nothing has changed – as always! - even when you have taken the time from your busy schedule to set up some goals.
These are called self-fulfilling prophecies. Meaning you expected something to happen and this expectation coming true is because you actually believed in it, aligning your attitudes and behaviors to fulfill this belief. In this particular case, you have predicted that your goals and dreams would not come true and they did not at the end, as at some point you have given up on your plan.
Sounds a bit crazy, right? Truth is our critical inner voice – or chatter box – has a great influence in our behaviors and actions, more than we are often comfortable to accept. So, what can make the trick? What can help you remain committed and engaged with your goals and your dreams?
Concrete goals and plans are essential to get where you want to be, but often they are not enough. At least, not in the consistent way you need them to be. Having a yearly theme can provide that extra motivation you are looking for, working as a thread that keeps you connected. How do you know though what your yearly theme could be?
Let us start with a simple question: What do you want this year to be about? Having this question in mind, try the following steps:
1. BRAINSTORM. Make a list of things you enjoy spending time doing, what fires you up, what or who inspires you to keep you moving forward even in stormy times. Things you have always wanted to try, things that make you feel uncomfortable.
2. CONSOLIDATE. Look at what you have written down and without overthinking it, pick one topic from the list – or more than one if they are related. Perhaps it is something that has been on your mind forever, or maybe it is a complete new thing.
3. TRANSFORM. Transform that topic into 1 to 3-words, no more than 3 words. Read it aloud. Write it down and hang it where you can see it every single day. Telling a friend or a family member helps to make it more tangible while keeping you on track.
This is it? Is this the end of the road? Surely not. This is just the beginning, the first step. A yearly theme is a strong word (or set of related words), a mantra if you may. It is something you bring with you everywhere you go. It is easy to remember, especially when you are feeling exhausted or disengaged. It serves as a reminder of your commitment with yourself, over and over again. Because you are doing it for you. Stay connected to what really matters to you!