Every year, at the close of the year, it seems like the world (or maybe just NYC) goes into a frenzy about where to drunkenly herald in the new year and higher-minded souls dream up resolutions to make the ensuing year great. And every year, at that time, I laugh in the face of those resolutions and tell the new year to hurry up and come on because we have some work and lots of fun to do.
I do not subscribe to the impotent resolutions culture. The very action of coming up with a number of lofty things I will and will not do for the coming year neither inspires me nor does it give me what I truly need: RESULTS.
I should get it printed on a t-shirt, “Results, Not Resolutions”. But before I go there, I’d like to ask you, after waiting deliberately two days into the new year, what of your resolutions at the turn of the previous year? Do you remember them? Did you keep them? And what was the reward?
Resolutions have no steam because they spring from compensating for our failures in the year or years before. “This year, I’m finally going to stop (or start) doing that thing that I need to stop (or start) doing…I hope”. They, like so many other Jedi mindtricks we play on ourselves, convince us that we are somehow in action when all we are really doing is contemplating action but never taking it.
I believe that the secret to phenomenal success and happiness is simply, action–ANY action. At least any action in the direction of what we say we want. That action breaks down the inaction that not only robs us of our belief in transformation but validates our lack of trust and belief in ourselves as capable change agents.
This year, I invite you to take a look at your resolutions and ask yourself how will you know they’ve been accomplished. How about transforming those resolutions into actions that will culminate in satisfying results? Take those resolutions and make them goals. Go even farther and make them S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) goals. Turning your resolutions into SMART goals gives them a chance of surviving in reality, moving them from the plane of hope onto a plane of actualization.
When you add a “by when,” resolutions emerge from the undefined, unattainable goop of wishful thinking into actual possibility. Aid yourself in making these goals reality with the exercise of reverse timelining. Fast forward to the date/moment you have set to achieve the goal and work your way back to the present with events that make each following event inevitable.
For instance, if my goal were to get married in a year, I would visualize myself a year from now getting married. Then I would look at what would have had to happen the month or a few months before to make that event inevitable. I would say, the month before, all except a few last-minute wedding preparations were complete. Then I would go to that event and look at what would make it inevitable. I’d go back event by event, looking at what would make the next one inevitable. Somewhere in there would be the proposal and telling the parents. Before that would be the wonderful vacation together. Before that would be dating each other exclusively and before that would be narrowing the dating field to three candidates.
I would jump all the way to realizing my goal and work my way back to today. In the example above, I would look to see what I would have to do this week to create a dating field that I would eventually narrow and create an action to make this inevitable. That would look like joining an online dating site by Thursday. When you’re done reverse timelining, you will have a string of actions to take that will lead to the inevitable achievement of your goal or at least a great adventure in learning and adjusting your approach!
If you have questions about this process ask me in the comments, read more about reverse engineering your future here and goal setting here and get started on a phenomenal new year! This year is set to be a great one. If you don’t believe me, check out the Chinese zodiac, it’s the year of the Dragon, the most lucky of all years. There are scores more “signs” of the impending greatness of 2012, so go get results and make your dreams come true this year. Good luck! You have nothing to lose…except resolutions!