How to get your shit together in the new year
So another year is over, vacations are coming to an end, and the holiday festivities are winding down. Some of us are feeling invigorated for the new year, but others are starting to get the post-holiday blues. After a season of indulgence and being removed from your normal routine, you might be feeling a little... off.
This time of year, you may wake up one morning, wrapped up in your cozy blanket, and think to yourself, do I really have to get out of bed? You may drift back to sleep, or grab your phone to scroll through social media. Before you know it, hours pass, and you end up feeling guilty for not being "productive". If this sounds like you, then you're definitely not alone! It's perfectly normal to feel a bit lost or uninspired while transitioning out of the holiday haze.
Let's talk about how we can ease out of this funk and revive our sense of motivation and purpose again. And no, the answer is not setting overambitious New Year resolutions that fizzle out by February. Instead of impulsively jumping to the next big, shiny goal that attracts your attention, let's take a step back and do some intentional planning.
Planning is what makes everything else possible
Now I am not an event coordinator, a project manager, or a CEO. I'm just a health coach. But I can tell you one thing: Planning is the first skill I work on with all my clients. It's not food tracking, it's not learning proper squat form, it's not cooking, it's not choosing the right workout gear. If someone cannot consistently make good plans and follow through with them, they will not be able to make any lasting changes - full stop.
The art of planning is not as simple as you might think. Many people fail to reach their fitness, career, and relationship goals right out of the gate, because they don't give the planning process the time and attention that it requires.
On the other hand, the art of planning is also not as scary and unapproachable as you might fear. There are many ways to break it down into manageable chunks. Here's just one suggestion of a 3 step process to get things rolling.
Step 1: Health Check-In
The first step is recognizing that planning is not just about jumping right in and making a to-do list. It's about taking a step back to look at the big picture and re-evaluating what is most important to us and why.
That's why I like starting with a blank sheet of paper and doing a comprehensive health check-in. It’s time to be brutally honest. Rate the following aspects of your life on a scale of 1 to 10:
- Physical Health
- Mental Health
- Social and Relationships
- Home and Family
Feel free to add or remove categories to make it your own. And remember: this isn’t about criticism or judgment; it’s simply about getting an honest assessment of where you are right now.
Step 2: Prioritize and brainstorm
Once you're done, challenge yourself to choose 1-2 areas that either scored the lowest or that you feel most passionate about improving. This is where the momentum starts building.
Begin to brainstorm – and I mean really let your imagination run wild – on concrete things you can do to improve these areas of your life. Perhaps you want to boost your physical and social health by joining a recreational sports league. Perhaps you want to improve your financial health by setting budgets for areas that you tend to overspend in.
After you've gotten all your ideas out of your head and on paper, comes the hardest part. Challenge yourself to choose one, just ONE goal to focus on. It's hard, but explicitly choosing the single most important goal to prioritize above all else will make you that much more likely to achieve it. It doesn't mean you have to throw everything else out the window, but changing one thing at a time is generally a smart decision.
Step 3: Plan and commit
Next, it's time to get tactical. We need to break up that big 3 month goal into a sequence of tiny, bite-sized steps. Each step should be something that you can easily fit into a day, or a week at the absolute most. Even 5 minute actions, such as a brief meditation session or reviewing your weekly spending, can go a long way when done consistently.
A lot of us stumble when we set our sights too high and get overwhelmed. So keep it as small and simple as possible. These actions should feel almost too easy when you write them down.
The last part is the the most important part: Grab your planner, phone, or whatever you use to keep track of your life. Actually pencil in the baby steps you decided on. Tie them to specific dates and deadlines to keep yourself accountable for taking action on them. Treat your actions the same way you would a work meeting or doctors appointment, because you have decided that they are your top priority. The act of scheduling is what makes your goals real.
90% of New Years resolutions fail, because they lack intention and because they lack practicality. It's the small, consistent changes with clear thought behind them that add up to big results. So keep it steady, take it one day at a time, and start your year off right.