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5 Ways To ACTUALLY Change Your Life This Year (No Resolutions Necessary)

Dr. William A. Schiemann
Written by Dr. William A. Schiemann
5 Ways To ACTUALLY Change Your Life This Year (No Resolutions Necessary)

Manifest the year of your dreams by going inward. Renew You 2017 is a month of mindfulness during which we’ll share content that guides you to create a deeply rooted intention for the new year. We’ll help you navigate inevitable obstacles with the latest science on habits, motivation, ritual, and more and equip you with tried-and-true techniques to outsmart even the toughest inner critic.

Research tells us that 92 percent of New Year's resolutions fail. So, really, why bother? There must be a better way to change your life. Right?

There are a number of reasons resolutions fail—overly ambitious targets, peer pressure, and more. But there are some secrets to making changes that actually stick. The most important one is to ask, before making a resolution, whether the change you're making will make you more fulfilled. Most people want their lives to be more fulfilling, but 80 percent of people aren't making that happen. If you start asking yourself whether or not any resolution you make will likely lead you to increased fulfillment in the long term, you are far more likely to be successful in achieving it.

Here are a few tips from people who have mastered the art of making—and keeping—their resolutions.

1. Start with your long-term goals.

If you don't have any, create some. If you have long-term goals, it might be time to reassess them. While it can feel scary, it's really the only way to effect the future you desire. In my recent research at the Metrus Institute, we studied the most fulfilled people we could find. These folks had one thing in common: a vision for their life—what they want and what they would like to have accomplished. For millennials, that might be a career goal or a family or relationship goal.

For Xers, it might be an end-of-career objective (I want to become a VP in my company) or something more personal, such as taking up a new sport or hobby, or building stronger personal relationships. For recently retired boomers, it might be bucket list items like visiting a country they have always wanted to see. Don't be afraid to put a stake in the ground—you can always move it later!


2. Identify your fulfillment drivers.

Next, think about the things you do that help you achieve your dreams. That might be taking courses in school; dating; practicing a sport, hobby, or musical instrument; or digging deeper into your religious or spiritual beliefs. Or it might be performing well at work so that you can get that promotion or become skilled for a future job. These are your drivers of success and fulfillment.

Unless you think about the connection between these drivers and your long-term visions/goals, they may all feel alike. In reality, some are more important to your long-term fulfillment. I didn't like some of the courses I had to take to get my degree, but I had a vision of what the degree could provide for me in the future, so I learned to devote time to studying instead of partying, which is what felt good at the moment.

3. Map your time.

Time is one of the biggest challenges to achievement. We all have the same amount of time each day, but some people use it more wisely. "You have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyoncé," as the saying goes.

Personally, until I started spending a week or so each year mapping out my time, I didn't realize how much of it I had wasted on things that weren't propelling me toward my goals. Map out your time periodically, and be willing to revisit and adjust the way you've allotted your time. Life changes, and you have to find new ways to balance it all.

4. Build some grit.

One of the key factors we learned from our interviews on getting to fulfillment is that nearly everyone has major setbacks in their life—health issues, missed promotions, divorces, or the loss of a loved one. But the most fulfilled people find a way around these setbacks.

Building resilience is a key skill, but there are some tricks to making it easier. The most common one is having a great network and some really close friends. If you don't nurture your network, it won't be there when you most need it. Many of our most fulfilled interviewees had developed mentor relationships, and it was those mentors who fueled their fire to get up and overcome the setbacks.


5. Take a few risks.

Many of the baby boomers and Xers we interviewed who had been around the block a few times suggested that we all take some risks. Most felt the risks they took earlier in their careers or in relationships helped them immensely in life. Even when those risks didn't work out, they learned lessons that could be applied in the future. Think about what would stretch you in 2017. Asking your company for a stretch job perhaps, or taking a next step in your relationship with someone? In fact, many people found that taking a job they weren't totally qualified for (yet) enabled them to learn quickly and stretch their capabilities.

These five steps will take you a long way toward greater fulfillment in 2017 and in your life to come.

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