The Ultimate New Year Action Plan (No Resolutions Required)

The Ultimate New Year Action PlanWith the new year just around the corner, a lot of us are stuck thinking where the hell the year went. What have we done? What have we accomplished?

Regardless of how the year went, it’s done. It’s behind you. And it’s time to start thinking about what actions you can take to make next year the best one yet.

The last thing you want to start doing is setting resolutions. Resolutions alone doesn’t work. Statistics have shown that. If you want to grow in the new year, you need to set up an action plan for yourself.

And that’s exactly what I’ve got for you – the Ultimate New Year Action Plan.

This is a simple, step-by-step action plan that you can use to set yourself up for a successful new year. Go ahead. Grab yourself a pen and paper because we’ve got some important work to do.

First, we’ll start with some reflection pieces…

1. Reflect on the positives

Think about all the good great things that happened to you this past year. What are some positive things you’ve accomplished? What are some interesting things you’ve learned? What moments are you most proud of?

ACTION STEP: write down your top 3-5 top wins from the past year.

2. Reflect on the negatives

Now let’s do the opposite. Take a second to think about all the negative things that have happened to you over the past 12 months.

What are some things you failed at? What are some things you wish you could’ve done differently? What are some things you still need to work on going forward?

ACTION STEP: write down your top 3-5 top fails from the past year.

Now that you’ve reflected on the past, it’s time to start planning for next year. Taking what you’ve learned from this year (the good and the bad), you need to start setting…

3. Don’t set goals, set commitments

A good friend of mine once told me that goals are pointless because very often we have little control over the outcome.

We think we do, but we rarely do.

There are just too many factors in play. Too many moving pieces. And when the outcome we seek eludes us, we tend to lose motivation and quit.

So instead of setting goals this year, set commitments.

Instead of setting a goal to lose 30 lbs by March, set yourself a commitment to do something active for 30 minutes three times every week.

Instead of setting a goal to save $1000 by August, set a commitment to manually transfer over $50 to your savings account at the end of every month.

There’s a big difference between goals and commitments.

Focus on what you have control over.

ACTION STEP: write down your top 3-5 commitments for the new year. They can be related to fitness, health, personal growth, relationships, or anything else that is important to you.

Now that you’ve set your commitments, you need a tracking system in place to keep yourself in check…

4. Get your journal ready

If you don’t already keep a journal of some sort, it’s time to start one.

Now I’m not asking you to spend every night journaling for an hour (although you can if you want to), but you need an effective way of tracking your commitments.

You’ll want to track successful commitments, missed commitments, and reasons for your missed commitments.

This can be as easy as putting a check-mark every time you make your commitment and an X every time you miss it. Find something simple that works for you.

my journalAn old workout journal of mine.

Your journal will be an invaluable tool as it will not only keep you accountable but it will help you analyze how well you’re doing with your commitments for the year.

Note: this doesn’t have to be a physical journal. If you prefer to go digital, then go ahead and use a spreadsheet or google doc or smartphone app. Do whatever will help you be consistent.

Once you get your journal, make sure you write your commitments in your journal – front and center! Write down exactly what you want to accomplish each week. Here’s why…

A study in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that 91% of people who planned their intention to exercise by writing down when and where they would exercise each week ended up following through. Compare this to 38% who followed through because they didn’t write anything down.

ACTION STEP: figure out how you want to track your commitments and get your journal ready for the new year. Then write down your commitments in there.

Now that you’ve got your commitments ready and a journal in hand, it’s time to get started. Winners don’t wait for opportunities to come to them. They make opportunities for themselves.

5. Get the momentum going (today)

I know a lot of people like to wait for January 1st to start taking action on their goals and “resolutions”.

I say why wait?

If you really want something, you should go after it right now.

Here’s why this is important going into the new year…

Often when people start their resolutions in January, it takes them about a week or so to get started and then another week to get accustomed to their new rituals…

…if they even get there.

You don’t want to be just getting into first gear come January.

You want to be a freight train going at full speed while everyone around you is just getting their engines warmed up.

So how exactly do you do that?

You start early (today) and you start with a few small wins.

Small wins are exactly what they sound like – small accomplishments. And they are incredibly powerful.

The act of completing a simple little task, no matter how tiny, can be incredibly motivating. Just a simple check-mark beside an item on a list can be enough to power you through the next step.

Every simple task that you complete builds on to the previous completion, creating a massive snowball of motivation.

You can read more about small wins here.

ACTION STEP: choose three (3) small wins that you can do between now and January 1st and schedule them into your calendar. Then actually do them.

Small wins are great for building momentum, but there are a few other important things you can do to get yourself ready for the commitments waiting for you in the new year.

6. Tell someone

By now, you should have written down your commitments for the new year.

But if you actually want to stay true to them, you need tell someone about them. Someone that you trust and that has your best intentions in mind. Someone to help you stay accountable to your commitments in the new year.

Tell them exactly what commitments you’ve set for yourself and tell them to be hard on you when you skip them.

ACTION STEP: find your accountability partner (support system) and tell them about your commitments.

If you don’t have anyone to tell, go ahead and leave your commitments in the comment section below (or email them to me) or post them on the private B2F Facebook pageOr just skip to #8 below.

7. Set up consequences (blackmail yourself)

If you don’t have a support system around you, there’s an alternative…

You need to set consequences for yourself.

You need to set the stakes.

set the stakesPut your money where your commitments are.

Years of economic and behavioral research have shown that people who put stakes – either their money or their reputation – on the table are far more likely to actually achieve a goal [commitment] they set for themselves.

So let’s say you’ve set yourself a commitment to be active for 30 minutes three times a week. Your consequence could be something like this:

“Every time I skip two commitments in a row, I will give $100 to a random stranger.”

This is just a random example, but generally the consequence should be something that hurts monetarily or emotionally.

If the consequence doesn’t even make you flinch, it’s not good enough. Set something up that will actually make an impact. Only this will force you not to skip your commitments.

ACTION STEP: think about what consequences you can set for yourself and write them down.

For a full guide on how to blackmail yourself, read this motivation hack guide.

8. Set up the right environment

There’s a reason they don’t serve wine at AA meetings. We humans are generally not very good at resisting temptations.

Taking this little known fact into account, you need to set your environment up in a way that will help you succeed with your commitments in the new year.

Come January, all temptation should be gone.

So if one of your commitments next year is to cut down on eating chocolate bars, then all chocolate bars should be gone from your fridge, cupboard, pantry, or wherever else you’ve been hiding them in past years.

Removing them from your immediate surroundings will have a huge impact on your success.

ACTION STEP: remove all temptations from your immediate surroundings and set your environment up to propel you towards your commitments.

Now that you’ve got everything set up, you’re ready to get started!

There you have it. You’ve now got your Ultimate New Year Action Plan ready so you can make the most out of the new year ahead.

The most important thing you must do is start todayIf you want to make things happen, start right now.

Set your commitments. Set your consequences. Start building the momentum. Get your engines revving so when January comes around you’ll be going full steam ahead.

Sound good?

Your turn…

What is one commitment you’ve set for yourself for the new year? List it off in the comments section below. Hint: it doesn’t have to be fitness related.

8 thoughts on “The Ultimate New Year Action Plan (No Resolutions Required)”

  1. Hey, Serge! Great article that comes right on time for me. I have just recently decided to set my commitments for the upcoming year (starting off with one strategy for the first 3 months to see whether this approach will work and modify it if needed). In my case, the decision has nothing to do with Christmas/ New Year coming, but rather with the fact that my life lacked structure and I failed to do the things that matter most to me, because I simply failed to plan. While I intend to keep working on developing a great physique, my biggest efforts with revolve mainly around getting more in touch with my inner self, expressing more grattitude, letting myself be imperfect and also being more kind to myself ( I tend to be more critical to myself than to the people around me) I have used a spreadsheet for keeping track of the commitments and a pocket size notepad for the grattitude practices and other smaller, but important commitments. From my current perspective, people postpone taking action now, because they – in their minds – tend to live either in the past or dream for the future. Taking action is possible only when one is living in the present, because only then she/he can fullybe aware of and realize the necessity of commiting to what truly matters to them now. I hope to achieve that with some short, but consistent daily mind practices. I also have a question for you – If you could only change one thing in your life right now, what it would be?

  2. Ok, my question wasn’t very clear. What I meant was : “If you could only choose one thing that you can change and commit to for – let’s say the following year – what would that be? BTW – You don’t need to reply if you think this is something very personal, but I was just curious about other people ‘s priorities that are my age.

    1. Thanks for sharing that Thea. Mastering the inner self is a tricky proposition, but an important undertaking. It’s something all of us should consistently strive to do.

      Some of the more important commitments I have set for myself going forward are 1) daily meditation (even if it just means sitting in silence for a few minutes per day), and 2) regular stretching sessions to boost flexibility, and 3) taking immediate action in uncomfortable situations (i.e. minimize hesitation and procrastination).

  3. I want to be able to really rock handstand so I’ve committed myself to practicing handstand (and its many variations) for 5 minutes a day, 6 days a week. And I’m already practicing 😉

  4. You are so right about commitments vs. goals. My commitment is to run 3 times a week. I already keep an exercise journal and it is very satisfying to write down my exercise experience! It’s also fun to see how far I’ve come.
    Now, I want to start jumping rope and body weight exercises. Can you please tell me of a good , loud interval timer? I look forward to watching your videos.

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