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New Year/SAME You: The 'YES, AND' Approach to Setting Goals

How this simple Improvisation principle helps me set (and reach) goals in 2024

Happy New Year!

As 2024 unfolds, resolutions abound, we’re all looking for ways to better ourselves and enhance our journey through life. The allure of a fresh start can be tempting, but garnering new expectations and standards for yourself can be tough — especially in the middle of the winter season. 

By the end of January, 43% of those who made resolutions will have abandoned them. By year’s end, only a mere 9% of us will accomplish our New Year's goals.

Enter the "YES, AND" approach – a refreshing perspective that urges us not to discard the existing, but rather to build upon it.

 It's easy to succumb to the pressure of setting entirely new goals every year, fueled by the relentless currents of social media and societal expectations. However, perhaps the key to enduring change lies in recognizing and fortifying what is already working in your life. 

The first step is to acknowledge your accomplishments and positive habits from the previous year. Celebrate what you have achieved and take a moment to recognize how your life has improved because of it. Instead of making vague promises to eat better or exercise more, take a moment to perform a quick gut check on the habits that already bring a sense of fulfillment. Then double down on them. It’s about recognizing the small victories and the habits that make you feel good about yourself.

For instance, if you successfully developed a habit of reading more books last year, don't discard it. Instead, double down on that accomplishment – challenge yourself to add three more books to your reading list.

However, if you were racing against the clock to finish that last book before the new year and you think three new books is unrealistic — that’s okay. Add one more book instead. That’s still an improvement from last year. By reinforcing an already strong or improved area of your life, you enhance the likelihood of success in the future.

Do you usually follow through with your New Year's Resolutions?

  • I try but usually come up short

  • I don't usually make resolutions

  • I often complete what I set out to do

Confidence in your ability to follow through with set goals is a powerful catalyst for growth. The more you believe you can accomplish something, the more likely you are to actually achieve your vision. This is especially true if your goals are not influenced by external expectations.

 Friends, family, and social media can convince us that we need to be doing more than our bodies and our minds can handle. By assessing and appreciating current habits and accomplishments, you pave the way for authentic, self-driven goals.

Moreover, it's essential to maintain balance in your goals. Alongside a conventional "To Do" list, try introducing a "To BE" list. It's easy to write down a bunch of things we wish we could create for ourselves, but it takes a bit more time to be reflective and thoughtful about who we want to BE alongside these accomplishments. 

Do you want to be more courageous, confident, or compassionate?

Here are some key takeaways to consider:

  1. Less is More: Focus on just one goal you've already achieved in the prior year and commit yourself to being consistent. This consistency will build confidence in your ability to accomplish what you set out to do. 

  2. 2. Real Change is an Inside Job: Look within for the change you seek. Sometimes the change we seek is internal, not external. While a different job or a different relationship may seem like it will solve our problems, often the change we are looking to make is about shifting something from within. So ask yourself, “am I looking to cultivate more courage, more confidence or compassion”? Those are inner attributes that will help you accomplish many life changes because they are about who you are BEING - not only what you are DOING. 

  3. 3. Everyday is a Good Day to Start Again: Don’t get overwhelmed with the pressure to accomplish all these goals right away -- January isn’t the only time to begin again. Just think of how many people you see in your gym in January, only for that number to dwindle by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around. You can have a do over at any time in your life. Remember -- it’s a new year but the same us. 

Slow and steady consistency is the way to go to create lasting change!


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