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?
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?
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.
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.
An 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.
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.
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.
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 page. Or 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.
Put 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.
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.
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 today. If 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.
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.