The two steps that must precede ALL New Year’s Resolutions

I love the beginning of the year because it gives you an opportunity to create those habits you’ve procrastinated on and is the perfect excuse to stop making excuses. It’s like every Monday for dieting and exercising, but with a collective energy that makes it more powerful!

The New Year is a reminder that you are not getting any younger; and that it’s time to start living your life with purpose—whatever that looks like for you.

That’s why you create New Year’s Resolutions! 

But the novelty of the new year soon wears off, along with the trips to the gym, church, and the vegetable aisles in the supermarket.  Date nights and visits to see grandma are also hard to keep up with our hectic lifestyles.  You justify slacking off because between work and the kids’ extracurricular activities, there’s really no time to spare… is there?

By the time December rolls around and you look at the list of goals you had for the year, you feel discouraged and disappointed because you gained 10lbs, are at the verge of divorce, or failed to spend your last days with grandma.

You’re probably thinking I’m a total Debby Downer, but you know I never-EVER leave you in the dumps.  In fact, I’m about to set you up for success because I’ve decided that this will NOT be your typical year.  You are going to kick 2022 in the b*tt!  PERIOD.

I’ve already shared with you how you can reframe your hardships, create healthy habits, and focus on progress to end this year with momentum and success. Today, I want to share the first two of the steps I follow to make each year an amazing one, regardless of what curveballs life throws at me.

I’d be delighted if you joined me this year.

1. Establish your word of intention.

Choose a word/phrase that embodies your intentions/purpose/goals for the year. Ideally, it’s the same for your personal and professional life, so you don’t compartmentalize what is all part of the same source: YOU. Choosing the same virtue or intention across the different areas of your life maximizes results because you will have one focus you may prioritize and strengthen in multiple scenarios.

For example, my teen client chose confidence as her word of intention.  She wants to enhance her self-esteem to feel beautiful and worthy of significant relationships; to increase her ability to address her parents assertively; to feel confident in her ability to succeed at school; and to be empowered by the belief that she can change any situation just by reframing her perspective and choosing to grow from the hardships.

My husband’s word of intention is consistency.  He wants to continue his high performance at work, exercise regularly, and read to our children consistently.  He is the most balanced person I know and is very intentional about engaging in healthy habits.  Hence, all he really wants is to continue the good work this year.

Here are some other examples to help you find yours: growth, joy, health, positivity, spirituality, humility, honesty, accountability, forgiveness, fitness, strength, acceptance, peace, clarity, freedom, healing, unity, mind-shift, balance, perseverance, being present/mindfulness, delegation, breaking patterns…

If your intention is not obvious to you, pick a few that resonate and go on to the next step. Step 2 will help you gain clarity on your purpose. (If you still feel stuck, pray about it. It will come to you if you surrender to God’s guidance).

2. Prioritize the ONE major goal you want to accomplish this year

Imagine it’s December of 2022 and you’re looking back at your year. What is the one thing that must happen in 2022 for you to feel fulfilled and successful when you reminisce about your year? Fill in the blank of this statement: “2020 was the year that I__________________________________________________.

Is this the year that you work on attaining a fulfilling marriage/relationship or finally let go of someone that hurts you? Is it the year that you will forgive yourself or that person you continue to allow to hurt you? Is this the year that you choose to be happy despite the tragedy you’ve experienced? Or is this the year you’re going to have a baby, buy a house, get a new car, write a book, go on a trip, run a marathon, overcome an addiction, start school, find a job, slow down, get in shape, live in the moment, spend more quality time with your loved ones…?

Write down ALL the specific goals that you want to accomplish. Then categorize them under words of intention. For example, if you want to be more consistent about going to church and you would like to pray daily and practice meditation, categorize those under spirituality. If you are on a mission to lose weight, take care of the doctor’s visits that you’ve been postponing, eat well, and exercise; categorize those under health, habits, or wellness. You get the picture.

Once you’ve written down all the things you’d like to accomplish, let’s get real. You can’t do it all in 365 days. It seems like a long time right now, but you’ve seen how quickly the year ends. When we try to accomplish too many things at the same time, we are bound to fail.

It’s like Math. You didn’t learn addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division at once. You mastered one concept before you proceeded to the next. Understanding addition made it easier to comprehend subtraction and multiplication. Goal setting is sort of mathematical. When we work on attaining a goal, we gain tools and experiences that provide a frame of reference, system, and skill set for the next goal.

I never imagined I was capable of completing a marathon, but I found myself committed to one for an intention that was greater than my body’s abilitiesat the time. As I started training, I learned “addition” when I realized I could go up a mile every week and not die. I needed that confidence to persevere and follow through. Week by week, I learned “subtraction” as I conquered distance goals that reduced the breach between my original expectations and my actual capacity. Ultimately, I learned multiplication and division when I crossed the finish line of the Miami Marathon on January of 2016.

Okay, so what’s it going to be? Which one of your goals is most urgent or you want the most? What is your “addition,” or the one that makes sense to master first? Which one are you ready for? If this were your last year of life, what you could you not die without accomplishing? (Don’t worry, save the other ones and we’ll come back to them).

If narrowing down your goals to one is too hard, make it more general. A broader goal may include multiple tasks. For example, my client wants to grow her social media following, get more exposure, build a community of consumers, increase her sales, and expand her team. Though these seem like many different goals, she could summarize them in one: grow her business. She specified what that would look like to make sure it’s measurable at the end of the year (e.g. X amount of social media followers, gross income, team members, and emails in database).  Her word of intention is growth.

What’s the goal that will lead you to a successful 2022? (Remember, success is defined on your terms)

Align your goal with your word to yield the process.

Keep in mind that your goal may be the same as someone else’s, but when you align it with your purpose (word of intention), it becomes uniquely yours. For instance, my goal a couple of years ago was to write Hurt 2 Hope: Heal the pain of loss, grief, and adversity. My word was sharing. My purpose was not to become a best seller, but to share the story that changed my life and bring hope to people grieving.

That intention guided my efforts and dragged me to my desk on writing days, when everything in my being resisted the painful typing experience. It also pushed me to write excruciating details that now help the reader, even though they ripped me apart for a day or two.

A writer whose focus is to acquire a ranking, may have Best-selling as her word of intention. Most likely, her emphasis would be on structuring and marketing the book in a way that maximizes her purpose. That author would have spent more time on growing her audience and sending proposals to publishing agents, whereas I prioritized the actual writing of my story. I felt I could die without being a best-seller, but I couldn’t pass without sharing my story.

Two people. Same goal: write a book. Different intentions: Sharing and Bestselling. Divergent experiences.

Engaging in this endeavor required that I make the space I needed pursue my goal. Sharing, then, also meant that I delegated responsibilities that took up time of my day, so I could make myself available to write. I shared tasks with my team members, my husband at home, and my support network. I shared my income with the editors, professionals, and coaches who supported me on this journey. I even negotiated sharing some of my sleep time with my goal. I often woke up at 3:30 or 4am to write, and was eager to do so because 2020 was the year I shared my story and hope with the world. 

That’s how I applied my word of intention across the board (at home, at work, in my routines and investments). Whenever I struggled with decision-making, all I had to do was go back to my word and reflect on whether the choice in question led me closer or further away from my purpose.

Your intention will drive the process of achieving your goal, so be clear and choose it from the heart.

I would be honored if you shared your word of intention with me here. You may also write about your goal if you feel inspired to do so. I will collect all intentions and put them in my prayer box to make sure God grants you the wisdom and guidance to persevere and succeed. We’ve got your back!

Bring it on 2022!

If it is to be, it is up to ME. –William H. Johnsen