Palio of Siena

Making the Momentum of a New Year Last

Your gym is packed, inspirational status updates proliferate Facebook, and more than one acquaintance has dug out a pet project that has become the subject of every conversation. You recognize the symptoms: It’s the New Year.

Every year is the same. People are imbued with an overwhelming amount of energy that translates to increased activity. Some of it certainly productive, but this newfound desire to better oneself (or one’s business, hobby) doesn’t seem to last very long. New Years Resolutions? It’s become a trope of sorts to say “this is what I am not going to accomplish this year.” But it doesn’t have to be that way.

There is undeniable power in every New Year that, if harnessed, can be made to last. The question is how. How do we maintain the momentum that spurs us into action at the start of the year? To answer that, we first have to look at some of the elements that make the New Year a catalyst.

  • Reflection. The New Year is a time of reflection. We go back and think about what we did in the past year, and we act on our findings. Perhaps during the holiday shopping spree we couldn’t help but notice that the  proper size pants we’ve etched in our memories didn’t fit. Perhaps a game of tag with the visiting children ended prematurely with the old stitch in the side. Regardless, we’ve determined that “getting back into shape” is something worth pursuing.
  • Benchmark. The New Year is a reminder that we’ve just passed “Go” in the game of life. Dreams, marriage, homes, kids, vacations, grandkids, savings, and retirement are common milestones in our shared story of a good life. The New Year is a strong reminder that there’s still more to do. That reminder prompts us to act.
  • Opportunity. The New Year is a chance to make a difference. Regardless of our performance in past years, everyone has an opportunity to do better. We’ve been taught this since infancy and we’ve made it a tradition.

Reflection, benchmark, and opportunity. There are many ways to combine these elements into an effective tool that works for us. Here are a few:

Set time aside every day to reflect. Think about your goals—what you’ve done—and put that into perspective with what you hope to accomplish in the long-term. Set benchmarks and refine them over the course of the year. Compare your progress with your expectations and use your findings as fuel to propel you into action. Finally, don’t  pass up on opportunities. Regardless of how well we plan the year, there will always be surprises in store for us and a willingness to veer off schedule to try new things is an essential part of the human experience. But be mindful that you aren’t cobbling together excuses as a way to diverge from your goals.

The best way to stick to a plan is to incorporate others. Serving as an accountable third-party, friends or family can provide that little extra push you may need to summon the energy to follow through with your own plans. More often than not, they are a more forgiving and less critical coach than your own superego.

Happy New Year! Do well.