How Are Your Resolutions Going? Here's A Music Industry Coach's Guide To Making Them Happen

18 January 2019 | 2:56 pm | Viv Fantin

Well and truly in 'new year, new me' territory, music industry coach Viv Fantin helps us take a step back and look at the importance of making sure our goals are meaningful.

Ok, let’s get this bit out of the way. Resolutions – do they work? Sorry to disappoint, but not usually.

The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they’re so damn hard to keep. Plus we pin all our hopes on the "magical" date of January 1 to kick them off.  We charge forward with resolutions, some of them completely over the top, many drunkenly shared with friends and others kept in the private vault. But, as I know from experience, anyone can make a New Year’s resolution. Not everyone can keep them. 

Like most of us, I used to start each year with a lengthy and exciting list of things I planned to do. And then spend the next twelve months basically not doing them. If you’ve said something like, "Next year I’m going to be more creative!", "Next month I’m going to get fit!" or (my favourite), "This year I’m going to stress less!", maybe you can relate? Oh, my intentions were there, and initial efforts were admirable. But as more and more time went by, other stuff got in the way and I realised I couldn’t be bothered. 

Truth is, the whole 'new year, new me' thing has never really worked for me. I would get all carried away, with these ridiculously unrealistic resolutions, with no plan, and then wonder why, come February, nothing had changed. In the coaching biz this is called 'set and forget'. Old habits return, and life goes on.

Resolutions seem like an awesome idea — how can setting ambitious plans for your next year of life be a bad thing? But they have a pretty lousy success rate. And that’s because most resolutions are poorly thought out and way bigger than the person can realistically handle. Expectations are usually over the top, and the enormity of pulling off those big resolutions can end up with motivation dwindling as you fall short.

The problem isn't that we’re not capable of sticking to our resolutions—it's that we need to do a better job making resolutions that are realistic, actionable and achievable. So, I’ve ditched resolutions in favour of small goals. 

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But how we do make those goals stick?  

As we head into 'resolution' season, it's worth having a think about what's gotten in your way before. Can you jump into your way-back machine and remember the goals you set last January for the year ahead? No? If you're like most of us, you may have developed a convenient amnesia on this front.

Typically, the reasons our goals aren’t kicked can be broken down into two categories: factors you can control (shit didn't happen for reasons XYZ), and factors you can’t control (the 'shit happens' category).

Did you ditch your goal or was it never that important to you anyway? Or maybe the goal was too big or not clear enough? It's definitely worth trying to figure out what happened so this time around is different. For some people, the 'idea' of change is far more appealing than the actual process of making it happen. When push comes to shove, some folks simply don’t want (whatever it is) enough or just aren’t ready to put in the hard yards.

Here’s some tips to help you get where you wanna be, one small change at a time.

STEP 1: Think small goals

For starters, big sweeping goals are often so daunting they’re overwhelming. 

Scrap that list of 15 New Year’s resolutions and focus on two or three things you really, really want to achieve in your life or career (or both). 

STEP 2: Be (really, really) specific

Large, vague goals almost always backfire. Instead, try and focus on a concrete goal and word it accordingly. Statements such as, "I’m gonna get fit," are open-ended and not very specific. But by re-wording that goal to, "From January the 1st, I will go to the gym three days per week before work for a one-hour session," you’re starting to get more specific. The more detail, the better.

STEP 3: Break your goal into small and manageable chunks

Once you are clear on your specific goal, the next part of the process is to break it into actionable steps. This part of the process is really important for maintaining momentum and motivation. Avoid the demotivation trap by being really clear on the sub-steps you’ll need to take to accomplish your goal. That way, you’ll be able to see and measure your progress, which will motivate you to take the next step. 

STEP 4: Have a goal reality check and a buddy

With smaller, more realistic goals, you’re more likely to succeed, so check that your goal isn’t completely over-the-top and unachievable. As you pull off your smaller goals, you’ll gain the motivation to keep going and will gain more confidence to attempt larger goals. Get a buddy on board to help with accountability.

STEP 5: Be flexible and ready to adjust

Ok, the wheels have fallen off. Now what? Reflect back on what got in the way. Is there anything you could have done to change the outcome so far? Maybe the goal was too large. Or perhaps you didn’t have all the resources, info and support you needed. Even if you weren’t able to reach your goal completely, what did you manage to achieve? Give yourself credit for what you were able to pull off, no matter how small. 

STEP 6: Make your goals SMART

This step is really important. Next time you set a goal, consider if it's SMART. And by that, I don’t mean intelligent! I mean is it specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timed.

A really important thing is to focus on the WHY, as this identifies what your motivation is to set the goal and make the change. Is your goal something you really WANT to change, or something you feel you SHOULD change? There's a big difference.

Here’s to meaningful change, one small step at a time. Happy new year!

Coach Viv XO