“The mess is part of learning new things.”
Chances are that you’ve already joined the 80% of people that give up their New Year’s resolutions by mid-February. It’s easy to feel discouraged when you’ve skipped a day or two of your goal – and figure it’s better to just try again next year – but certified life coach Laura Killick says there’s hope if you’ve lapsed.
Six Degrees Society was hosted by 24 Seven Talent, a recruiting agency for creative and tech positions, in its beautiful office perched above Madison Square Park. Over champagne and charcuterie, Laura explained that the first step is choosing the right resolutions. While there isn’t necessarily a “wrong” resolution, some goals are framed in a way that set you up to fail.
Step #1: Pick a resolution that matters to you most. People often set multiple resolutions, lag on one and then give up all of them. If you target just one resolution, you’re more likely to achieve it.
· Example: I want to be a healthier version of myself by diversifying my workout OR setting aside time for meditation OR eating more vegetables – don’t pick all three.
Step #2: Understand the benefit. Why do you want to achieve this resolution? Focus on what achieving the resolution adds to your life, rather than what it would take away from it.
· Example: I want to spend more time with my friends while taking classes together.
Step #3: Change your mindset. Set a small step that you can get into a routine with.
· Example: “I’ll work out three times a week” instead of “I’ll work out Monday, Wednesday and Friday.” That way, if you don’t work out on Monday (because Mondays are usually terrible), you can just pick another day of the week that will still add up to three days of activity.
Step #4: Make it easier to succeed. Give yourself a reward when you stick to your goal! Everyone loves treats, incentivize yourself to make it happen.
· Example: Three hours of binging Netflix/HBO/Amazon/Hulu with absolutely no shame.
SDS members suggested two books to further stick to your goal-setting: “Better Than Before” by Gretchen Rubin and “Beyond Mars and Venus” by John Gray. After the event, SDS spoke with three attendees to discuss how they’re reevaluating their resolution and how it could impact their lives.
SDS: What do you do and how long have you been involved with SDS?
TESSA RUSHTON: I work with a fashion brand called LoveShackFancy as the Planning + Operations Manager. I’m also the co-founder of a weekly newsletter focusing on downtown NYC – The Something Life. It covers everything from cultural commentary to where to find the best cheap haircut in Chinatown, all in one short succinct email. This was my first SDS meet up!
LEAH WILLIAMS: I run a presentation design business called Swellslide. I specialize in designing and writing presentations (PowerPoints) for clients. I have been involved with SDS since October.
AMANDA ELSBREE: I am a Senior Art Director, and I work at an agency here in the city called TPN. I’ve been on their Bank of America account for 4 years. This was my first SDS event, I’d love to attend more in the future.
SDS: What was your New Year’s resolution before you came to this event? Was it the same after the event or did it change?
TR: My New Year’s resolutions were very work focused, around progressing in my career at LoveShackFancy, growing The Something Life network and hopefully launching a clean beauty brand. Overall, I want to be more organized, use my time wisely and be a better communicator. My goals didn’t change during the event, the event reinforced my desire to achieve them!
LW: I’m a pretty – overly – ambitious person, so I had my list of resolutions since November (I like to call them goals, not resolutions as it sounds more attainable). But my main goal for the year is to host regular dinner parties at my apartment. I’m investing in an eight-person dining table (and lucky enough to have the space) and want to use these dinners as a way to create community in NYC. So many other cultures in the world thrive on eating meals together, it’s an essential part of life. However, New Yorkers rarely make time for it. I hope my dinner parties can provide a space to meet new friends, relax and unplug. One “rule” I’ll implement is to ask guests to leave their cell phones at the door so everyone can be fully present. Not checking emails. Not posting to Instagram. Tech free. (The only exception is if they have young children at home.)
AE: I felt like I had a long list of resolutions when I arrived and by the time I left I had a better perspective on the ones that really mattered, such as finding the confidence in my creative skills. I also gained a greater sense of how to actually achieve those goals/resolutions (bite size pieces!)
SDS: Laura Killick said that while no goals are necessarily “wrong”, some are doomed to fail. Why do you think that is?
TR: The goals that are doomed to fail are goals you’re not doing for yourself, the things you don’t truly want to achieve for you but the things that you think you should achieve – inauthentic goals.
LW: Well as an expert in being overly ambitious, I tend to make unrealistic goals like, “You must go to the gym five times a week for the next three months to lose 10 pounds”. So of course I’m not going to make that happen unless I’m some sort of Olympic gymnast and I’m getting paid to do that. Bottom line: Make realistic goals, attainable ones, rather than things you think you “should” be doing.
AE: Sometimes we get super lofty with our aspirations which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, we just need to make sure we’re choosing resolutions that are in line with who we really are. Someone in the group gave a lovely example of this; she joined a very expensive gym thinking the cost would sort of “guilt” her into going, which was only partly effective until she realized that she didn’t actually enjoy the big box gym style of working out in the first place. Why do we push ourselves into these things? Because we’re human and we’re hard working (give yourself some credit for wanting to achieve this in the first place!), we think we know what we want. Then we have to learn the hard way that sometimes it’s a matter of “That’s just not my style.”
SDS: Laura talked about strategies to make it easier to succeed at your goal. How are you planning to adjust your mindset so you can stick to your resolution?
TR: The strategy I resonated with was linking the steps needed to achieve your goals with a habit you’re already doing.
LW: It’s humbling to have to admit to yourself you can’t do something. I’d love to go on a trip and host one dinner party once a month, pay off tons of debt, add tons of clients, redecorate my entire home, visit my family all the time, take over the world and never have to ask for help from anyone. But I need to have compassion for myself, pat myself on the back (literally) and say, “It’s okay, just do the best you can.” Giving myself permission to do the best I can honestly helps a ton. I’m also a huge fan of meditating, the Calm app is amazing.
AE: I’m going to start small – do at least something little every day. I think this will help my resolutions to not seem so far out there, more like habits I’m already forming.
SDS: Was there anything that Laura or other SDS members said that resonated with you? Is there a word / sentence that stuck in your mind?
TR: Perseverance, break down the goal into achievable steps, reward yourself when you reach a milestone no matter how small!
LW: There wasn’t anything new, but just the reminder that you can’t do it all and to set realistic goals for yourself is really helpful. I also love her note about “the shoulds”. Shoulds can seriously ruin your life. (“I should be making six figures at 34 years old”, “I shouldn’t have gained weight over Christmas.”) When I let these shoulds rule my life, I kind of lose myself and live in this fantasy world, and forget that my reality is pretty awesome.
AE: Laura offered a few very clever little quips that resonated with me: “It’s not [losing] 100 pounds; it’s 1 pound, 100 times,” and “You don’t drown because you fell in the water – you drown because you stayed in there too long.” This mind-over-matter type advice I find extremely encouraging when confronting my goals for a new year.