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5 Critical Questions To Ask Yourself While Crafting Your New Year’s Resolutions

Forget the generic questions. The ones you’ve already asked. Scratch off questions that ask if your goals are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, or time-bound. Not that you shouldn’t ask those questions about your New Year’s resolutions; the thing is, you’ve already asked them.

You’ve had successes before, you care about excelling in your chosen field, and you want to know how you can make your goals different from the 80% of people that will give up on their New Year’s resolution by February.  

Here are 5 questions to help you join the top 20% of people that will reach their goals this year:

1. How Would You Describe Your Future Self?

Most people only think about this question on New Years Eve, but high achievers think about the best version of themselves and doing activities to get there sixty minutes more per week than their counterparts.

If you see your future self as a good writer, you’re likely to spend more time writing and reading. You’re going to spend more time thinking positively about who you want to be, then actively working towards that ideal. The most important part is that you’re actively working towards your goal instead of waiting until next week. Until Monday. Until you feel like you’re ready. You’re never going to feel like you’re ready to start. You’re ready now. 

Start with a vision that supersedes your circumstance.

In goals, the key factor is intentionality. Envision your best self, and work daily towards that version of you. Write your own personal mission statement, vision statement, core values, yearly goals (both long and short term) and read them every day. When you write your goals down, you’re 42% more likely to accomplish them. All that’s required of you is to put pen to paper.

When you write your goals, you’re:

  • Forced to clarify what you want. When you have a destination in mind, you’re more likely to arrive.
  • Motivated to take action.  When your goal is in front of you, you’re inspired to take that next, critical step that will help you reach it.
  • Providing a filter for opportunities. As we become more successful, we’re going to have more options. Writing your goals down helps to put them in priority.
  • Able to see, and celebrate, your progress. This is the same as when you get a hit of dopamine after checking a task off your to-do list, something that Simon Sinek describes this in his TED Talk,”Start with Why.”

2. Is My Deadline Real?

Nothing will motivate you more than a real deadline. What’s that? A non-negotiable date, when, if missed, the world will literally end. It’s not a poorly conceived idea, it’s a need with consequences if not met. 

Jim Rohn described it best: “Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value.”

Brendon Burchard shows the default reply he gives to people that email him requests without a deadline in his book, “High Performance Habits“:

“Thanks for your request. Can you give me the “real deadline” date for this? That means the date when the world will explode, your career will be destroyed, or a domino effect leading to both your and my ultimate demise will truly begin. Any date before that is your preference, and with respect, by the time you’ve sent me this request I have 100 preference requests in front of you. So, to serve you best, I have to put you in ranking order with the real deadlines. Can you please let me know the drop-dead date and why, specifically, it occurs then? From there, I’ll decide the priority and coordinate appropriately with you and, as always, serve with excellence. Thanks!” -Brendon

When you don’t recognize the real deadlines in your life, you’re more likely to mix up them up with fakes. A survey of 1,100 people showed that underperformers are sucked into fake deadlines three times more often than high performers.

Real deadlines are often placed on you by others. Presidential candidates don’t choose when the election is. Olympians don’t choose when the Olympics happen. Navy SEALs don’t get to choose when they deploy.

You can also give yourself real deadlines. As a matter of fact, giving yourself a specific deadline with an action plan more than doubles your chance of accomplishing your goal.

Another tactic many successful people use is to publicly announce their goal, that way have their ego and reputation invested in reaching their deadline or completing their project.

Say that you’re writing a book. The first date of completion passes by – no big deal. You extend the deadline. Miss it. Then repeat this process a couple more times, and then you set a date to go on vacation, except you need the money from the book to fund it. BAM. You’ve just turned your fake deadline into a real one. Get creative and you’ll be surprised what you can do.

4. Will My Goals Help Get Me Closer To Success, Or Just Add Clutter?

Sometimes, our goals add to our distractions rather than help us focus on what we really want to achieve. We become distracted and reactive rather than focused and proactive, turning our attention to the wrong things. William Jones said, “If you would be rich, you will be rich; if you would be good, you will be good; if you would be learned, you will be learned.  But wish for one thing exclusively, and don’t at the same time wish for a hundred other incompatible things just as strongly.”

When we should be focusing on our main mission, we’re dabbling with unproductive “accomplishments.” While reaching your smaller goals are important for keeping momentum going when the going gets tough, working towards goals that shouldn’t even have made the list is just unproductive. Re-evaluate your goals and affirm that everything on your resolution should have made the cut.

5. Who Needs Me To Give My Best?

We can often become absorbed in the selfishness of our goals and forget about others. Everything we do has an impact, and it’s up to you to decide whether that impact will be positive or negative. When you think about who needs you, your focus becomes based on intrinsic rewards (inspiring people, making them happy) rather than external rewards (money, followers, recognition).  

Ask yourself: Who needs me to perform well? What does performing well look like? What does it look like in the next hour? Then take a second and write down who needs you to give your best, why each of those people need you, and why you want to achieve success for them. Find somebody or something worth fighting for. Raising your sense of duty will elevate your performance and give you a sense of fulfillment, and when you hit the top, you’ll stay there longer.


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