Goals versus resolutions: making lasting change for 2018

This week, the last in December, is the Sunday night of the year – we think about incomplete homework, regret the pizza we ate and generally muster the will to do things differently, not starting right now (hey, it’s Christmas, kind of, still) but tomorrow.

Many of us will be making resolutions for the year. Maybe you’re here because one of yours is to check out this whole BuJo thing. One of the questions my non-planning friends often ask me is how to get started, so I wanted to write a little about what I’ve learned about how to make resolutions stick for more than the first three weeks of January.

Make them specific

Did you write down “lose weight” or “get organised”? Those are great impulses. But they need a plan behind them! Try thinking about what you will do differently, and how to narrow it down. So instead of “lose weight”, you might have “lose 10 kilos by July and improve my diet and fitness”. Notice I added a timeframe – this helps us to break it down into mini-goals (that’s only 1.5 kilos a month! Already feels more manageable.)

Turn them into actions

If you’ve now turned “get organised” into “have a home environment that feels tidy and under control, and start using a planner to help me manage my time better”, that’s already a great start. The next thing to consider is what actions you can take, immediately and in future, that will help you achieve your goal. You might decide that your collection of t-shirts from 1998 is the first thing on the hit list, so make that your “now” action and add “burn N-Sync tshirts” to your to do list the next day. If ultimately you want to go from “piles of semi-vintage stained clothing shoved into drawers” to “capsule wardrobe of curated pieces that a French chick would wear” this year, think about also planning to deal with other wardrobe items/areas by month. As an aside, check out the KonMari method if hoarding is in your nature.

Think about rewards

Psychologically we’re much more likely to willingly do tasks if they are rewarding. That’s why I always remember to buy cheese, but not always postage stamps. Cheese is gratifying. So go ahead and bargain with your inner three year old. If you successfully do a morning gym session, can you reward yourself afterwards with a coffee? If you burn your NSync tees, can you buy one classy Breton tee for your brand new capsule wardrobe? These don’t have to be costly – I also bribe myself with a long bath after endurance training, for example. (I know. I am super fun.)

Make the right ones

This one might be a bit controversial, but take a good critical look at your list, especially if you’re an optimist. Can you really learn falconry as well as paying off your mortgage in one year? Have you allowed for things to go wrong, and have you made sure you can schedule all the things you want to do? If falconry is a must, are you prepared to not watch television and expose yourself to Game of Thrones spoilers the next day for the love of the bird craft? Timeframes can be helpful to make sure these are realistic and achieveable for you.

If you’ve considered all these aspects, you’re much more likely to succeed in your goals – I wish you all every happiness and success for the year ahead, and thanks as always for reading!

PP x

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I'm a huge organisation and planning nerd who loves stationery, bullet journalling and calligraphy and brush lettering. My site is a mixture of practical planning advice, and examples of my work! Are you creative or into planning and productivity? Let's be friends!

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