63. The New Way to Make and Keep New Year’s Resolutions

new years resolutions

Struggling to establish and stick to your New Year’s resolutions? You’re not the only one! By February, many individuals find themselves lacking the motivation they had just a month before.

In this conversation, I speak with Deb to explore a fresh approach to creating and maintaining resolutions. Emphasizing the importance of acknowledging progress rather than striving for perfection, we discuss a mindset shift when it comes to setting and achieving goals. If you’re eager to approach the new year with a renewed perspective on goals, tune in!

You can learn more about Deb and what she does at her website https://debdisandro.com/

Main Episode Takeaways

  • Four steps to make and keep your New Year’s resolutions
  • Help you decide your “word of the year”
  • Learn the 80/20 rule for setting goals
  • Accepting progress not perfection
  • How to get back on track if you lose motivation

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Mary: Let’s talk boundaries. I’m here with Deb and we are talking about New Year. Hi Deb. Good to see ya. 

Deb: Hi, Mary. I’m excited about this topic.

Mary: Awesome, awesome. 

Deb: New Year’s resolutions. 

Mary: Okay, so when we think about New Year’s resolutions, what kind of thoughts come up? 

Deb: Well, you know, a set of New Year’s goals and how to achieve them. You know, people pick a word of the year. It’s like this getting to start over and wanting to achieve things that maybe in the past have alluded you. At least that’s what it means to me. 

Mary: Yeah, I love that. What about, what’s the problem with New Year’s resolutions? 

Deb: The problem is that you get excited setting them and then achieving them is another whole problem. You know, typically people will say by February 1st, they have lost all their enthusiasm for a New Year’s resolution. Yeah. Mary, we need help with that. 

Mary: Yeah, we do. So I created a new process for coming up with resolutions that are actually going to serve you, and I’d love to walk you through it. Can we do it today?

Deb: Oh my gosh, yes. Please. 

Mary: Sounds good. All right, so first things first. You’re gonna schedule an appointment with yourself, and we’re gonna use this time together to kind of go through your resolutions. And for folks listening, I want you to schedule an appointment with yourself. If this is a good time, you can do it right along with us. If not, I want you to come back and listen to this when you have time to actually focus and do it. 

So there are four steps and they are four Rs. Okay, ready? The first one is review. So this is review the previous time period. This is the looking back portion of how we do New Year’s resolutions. So because it’s around the new year right now, we’re gonna look back at the last year and do an annual review, but I actually recommend that we do kind of quarterly reviews because there’s something around the 90 day mark of time that’s this magic period of time where we internalize change. 

But for today, we’re gonna do a annual review. And so I want us to set a timer and make a list of all the things that you feel really proud of that you’ve accomplished. And I’m giving you permission to be really proud of yourself. Okay? Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about feeling too boastful, like just be proud of yourself, and I want you to make a list of some things that you’ve accomplished. We’re gonna come up with like a top 10 list of things that you’ve accomplished. Try to think about things that are like big things and small things. Things that you would typically see on a resolution list and things that you would not typically see on a resolution list. Okay? 

Deb: Hmm. Can you give me an example of one you typically wouldn’t see? 

Mary: Yeah. So something that you might see is I reached this income goal. Right? Something that you might not typically see is; didn’t reach my income goal and I continued to progress. I was persistent in that. So if you’re listening, I encourage you to set a timer for 10 minutes and make your own list. All right, Deb, what are some things you’ve accomplished this year? Tell me what you feel proud of.

Deb: Okay. So sometimes this can be a little difficult, but I like the way you explained that maybe you didn’t quite reach your goal but there’s progress made. So let’s start there. So I grew my business Speaker Academy into a paid part of my business. 

Mary: That’s amazing. 

Deb: Yeah, I feel good about it and it’s definitely building. And another goal in itself is I had six speakers speak in a live speaker showcase. And so after learning my method of speaking about your business successfully, they were able to give eight minute talks and we did it virtually. And they were just thrilled. I love seeing how proud they were of themselves and how much of an accomplishment that felt for them. I could see how it built their confidence as speakers. So that’s a big part of my business goals that I was really proud of. 

Mary: Awesome. So what did you do to accomplish that? 

Deb: Well, it really took a lot of effort to bring together my concepts. I’ve been a speaker for, you know, 30 years and bringing those concepts together and being able to teach them, I considered it a beta group so I just tried things. We practiced things. I focused on humor one month, I focused on storytelling and I was helping them build these skills and also really diving deep with some of them into their talk. So I’m proud of that. 

Mary: Okay. So you created Business Speaker Academy? 

Deb: Yes, yes I did. And this is the first year that it grew to where now it’s, a viable part of my business that people are telling other people about it and now in the new year I’m gonna have a lot more new members. 

Mary: Yes, absolutely. So you created Business Speaker Academy, you taught six people skills and coached them. 

Deb: To give a talk. And the focus is on business speaking. So that’s a little different than just giving a public presentation. It’s how to grow your business with speaking. And I have some successful clients.

Mary: I love that. I love that. So we wanna make our accomplishment list be results based, be impact focused. So those are the reasons that resonate with us. So you created Business Speaker Academy, you taught six speakers how to showcase their skills. Okay. Tell me what else you did. What else do you feel really proud about? 

Deb: So it’s one that is like been on my list for a while, is I’m working on a book for a client and I really hit a writer’s block. And what I did was I committed to taking myself out of my office and I spent almost a full week at a writing retreat place so that I could focus on this book and get past the writer’s block. And I got a lot accomplished on it. So I’m gonna consider that as a success even though, you know, I’m still working on the book, but I’m gonna consider that a win. 

Mary: Absolutely. So you committed to a weeklong writing retreat. You overcame writer’s block during that retreat. I love it. Great job. 

Deb: Thank you.

Mary: Okay, gimme a couple more.

Deb: Another one related to my work is, I work with these nonprofit organizations and they’re called Impact 100, and you have to coach their finalists to give a talk. And it is so rewarding. And I added another impact 100 groups. It’s so rewarding and I love it. And one of my speakers, when she won her first play, she won $20,000 for her organization. And it was just so rewarding for me too because she had been the one that was most committed to learning how to present effectively. And she just knocked it out of the park.

 There’s this great feeling as a coach of like, ooh there’s my little duckling, she did amazing. And so I’m proud of that and I love doing that work with nonprofits because they do amazing things in the world. And to be even a small part of that just feels so good. And I love that work.

Mary: Awesome. So what did you do to accomplish that? 

Deb: Well, I coached off five of them. And that’s what I did. Awesome. I also helped edit their pieces. They all give five minute talks, which isn’t easy to do. How do you condense what you need into five minutes? It is possible, Mary.

Mary: It is possible. Awesome. So you coached, you, edited, you supported, and you celebrated. Awesome. I love it. Good job. How about a personal one? Do you wanna share a personal one? What’s a personal accomplishment? 

Deb: Oh, I knew you were gonna say that. Oh boy. Personal ones are a little tougher for me. 

Mary: Is there a relationship that you have invested in that you feel connected in? 

Deb: Definitely. My grandkids are just, they’re just so joyful and I do put a lot of time into them and just love it. So this year it’s my second year in a row where I give them 24 books to open for Christmas, each. 

Mary: What?! 

Deb: Yeah. And I have just instilled this love of reading in them since they were little. We have so many books we read together and it’s just so joyful and they know that I’m the Grandma Debbie that reads books with them and yeah. So I was able to accomplish that. And they love it. I wrap ’em all up and every night at bedtime they get to open a book.

Mary: That’s so awesome.

Deb: Yeah. So I continue to think of ways to really connect with them. And even though I live two hours away, I have found a way to do that. And I was thinking this Christmas, wow they really know me and my husband, their grandpa, they really know us. And we really know them. We are an important part of their life. It’s just a beautiful relationship. 

Mary: Good job. I love that. Okay, so you guys get the idea. We’re gonna make a list of all the things that you’re proud of, that you’ve accomplished, and now the second step is to revel. Our first step was renew, that’s looking back. The second step is to revel. You are gonna be present. This is the present step, and we’re gonna celebrate these accomplishments. Don’t skip the celebration, guys. New Year’s is about celebrating. This is how we build confidence. So I want to normalize celebrations. You can post your list like on the refrigerator, like when we were kids. Wasn’t that fun? When we would feel really proud of our work or something we’ve done and we put it on the refrigerator. I give you permission to go ahead and do that. Or share it with people who wanna celebrate it with you.

Deb: I love that idea, Mary, because like even just sharing them with you felt like really wonderful and celebratory for me. I hope people share theirs with someone that they care about. 

Mary: We all need cheerleaders in our lives, right? If you don’t currently have someone that you think you kind of share your celebrations with, then I encourage you to ask someone, or I’d be happy to be a cheerleader. Reach out to me. Let’s celebrate what we’re doing. Let’s celebrate all the great stuff. So how are you gonna celebrate Deb?

Deb: Well, I feel like I did. And I have a big door that I face when I write in my office and I think I’ll put my list up there. So that’s my own little fridge place.

Mary: Awesome. Awesome. Okay, step three is to renew. This is when we start looking forward, considering your recent amazing accomplishments. How would you like to continue your growth journey? We’re going to renew our commitments to ourselves. We’re going to renew our intentions. So focus on who you want to be, who you want to become, and we think about our intentions in terms of, I want to fill in the blank, because… What is the value that we are embracing? This is where your word of the year goes, right? So tell me, what do you wanna do and how come? 

Deb: So I have thought about this a little Mary, and I typically don’t pick a word of the year because I change it the next month because I can’t stick with one word. But I think this year I found the word and mine is gonna be self trust.

Mary: Awesome. 

Deb: I have to share that I learned this from you. 

Mary: Oh, thank you. 

Deb: Because I’m in one of your coaching programs. And would you remind me of the definition of self-trust? 

Mary: Yes. Self-trust is learning that we can rely on ourselves, that I will make commitments to myself and I will keep those commitments to myself. It’s how we build confidence, is by learning to trust ourselves. And we talk about things like, you know, if you were on a deserted island, who would you wanna have with you? And I’m like, me! I can rely on myself. If I’m traveling, I want me with me. Like, I know how to make decisions. I know I’m a good person to have on a deserted island, because I trust myself to assess what’s needed to show up for me. I’m the most dependable person in my life, right? And it doesn’t mean that I don’t need other people. I do. And I value my connections with other people. However, we’re building trust with ourselves. The way that we accomplish our goals is by building trust with ourselves, right? So I love the idea of focusing on self-trust. 

Deb: You know, we always talk about like how to build trust with our clients or how to build trust with people and our relationships, but I don’t know that we focus on that enough within ourselves and it just, is in alignment with making these commitments like to ourselves that we’re gonna follow through on, and that’s gonna build confidence and trust in myself, that is really what I’d like to focus on this year.

Mary: Yeah, I love it. I love it and you can do it. Awesome. Okay, so what commitments will you make? what will you do? What will you not do to build trust? And this is where your boundaries come in. If we… thinking about that T chart, one side is like Deb will, the other side is Deb will not, right? What are you gonna do or not do to build trust with yourself?

Deb: Well, I’m going to make commitments about self-care and about my work, and I’m gonna schedule them on my calendar. 

Mary: Okay. Awesome, So you will take care of Deb, and that looks like self-care appointments? 

Deb: Yes. 

Mary: Okay. And what else were you gonna do? 

Deb: So I know what my goals are for the new year. They’re focused on the same four areas, and it’s just a matter of following through on the appointment calendar, the commitments to those four areas. 

Mary: Tell me what your four areas are.

Deb: So, it’s going to be writing on the book, and then building Business Speaker Academy. I actually have sessions starting, you know, in January and probably throughout the year that are gonna be starting. So that requires a commitment to prepping for those sessions, that’s the commitment I make to myself to be prepared. The commitment of finishing the book for my client, the commitment of scheduling all my impact 100 dates on the calendar now so that I know when they’re gonna be there and, you know, being present for those finalists. So for me, I don’t schedule the time and I’d like to do that. That would be something I’d like to improve on. And that’s like the commitment to myself that if I schedule an hour to work on Business Speaker Academy, that I do it. 

Mary: Mm-hmm. Yeah. So if you just made appointments and kept your appointments, would you reach that goal of self-trust? 

Deb: Yes. That’s what I wanna focus on. 

Mary: And these other goals that you have, book writing and individual coaching and group coaching, right? Those other goals that you have? Would those all be accomplished if you just made and keep commitments to yourself? 

Deb: I think it would reduce a lot of stress in my life. And yes, I’m sure I’d have some things to celebrate next year. I hope. 

Mary: Awesome. So making and keeping commitments to yourself. And keeping the appointments on your calendar. Yes. That’s what you’re gonna do? 

Deb: That’s what I’m gonna do.

Mary: Okay, so what are you not gonna do? 

Deb: Ooh, what am I not gonna do? I’m not gonna be interrupted by all the gold shiny objects, but sometimes I might . 

Mary: Mm-hmm. Yeah. You’re not gonna allow interruptions. 

Deb: Yeah. But Mary, this is where I struggle because sometimes you do, or sometimes you know, things come up and then if I don’t make those commitments, follow through exactly as I thought I should. Then I feel bad about myself. I feel like a failure. 

Mary: Yep. Absolutely. So that brings us to our fourth R in this process, which is reassess. So you are gonna give yourself grace and you’re gonna decide where’s your love line here. So when I’m starting a new goal, I like to give myself the 80/ 20 rule, like ground beef.

Deb: It’s got a little fat in there and it’s still really good.

Mary: Right? So like 80% of the time I’m going to stick to my schedule and be on track with these appointments. I’m gonna give myself 20% of grace. And that’s my measurement of success. And the reason I do that is because if I say I’m gonna do it 100% of the time, and then something comes up and I don’t stick to it 100% of the time, then we risk going into shame and disappointment and not trusting ourselves.

Deb: Yes, I’ve experienced that. 

Mary: Yeah. So I’m just gonna go ahead and tell myself, you know, 80%, I’m going for 80% here. And you could choose whatever percentage you wanna be. You could say, I’m gonna exercise five days a week, 50% of the time. Maybe that’s a realistic goal for you. Or maybe you say, I’m going to do something 75% of the time. 

Deb: Right. So then you do this for a week and, like mine would be to make and keep these appointments and then I review at the, maybe at the end of the week and say, okay, what was my percentage? And then maybe that becomes my base for saying, okay, it looks like I was 50/ 50, maybe that’s where I’m gonna be. Or maybe next week I try for 60/ 40. 

Mary: Yeah. So wherever you’re at on your journey to becoming, right? Wherever you’re at in that growth process is okay. You’re just gonna take the next step. Right? It’s like that song on Frozen two where they say, do the next right thing.

Deb: I love that. 

Mary: So just the next step, and if you maybe don’t quite reach your goal, then I tell myself something like, I love myself anyway. I’m gonna love me anyway. I’m gonna try again tomorrow. And you gotta just meet yourself where you’re at and keep going to avoid that shame spiral. 

Deb: Yes. I know that spiral well. I’m writing these down because they’re really helping; meet yourself where you are at, and do the next right thing. And it’s who you’re becoming. So like yeah, who we’re becoming might be way over here on the scale, but if we’re moving toward it in some way, you know that’s progress.

You know, I even heard that when we are moving toward a goal and we actually go backwards, we take a couple steps forward and we actually go backwards, that that’s not failing. That is actually understanding what it’s gonna take to move forward even more. 

Mary: Yeah. Failure is a part of progress.

Deb: I think that’s so important for people to understand because as soon as like we have a bad week or you know we didn’t follow through, that’s when we give up on all these New Year’s resolutions. But it’s part of the process. I love that.

Mary: Absolutely. Absolutely. And we’re working on progress, not perfection. So where’s your progress line, is what we wanna do. All right. 

Deb: I don’t know where mine would be. I like your 80/ 20 but… 

Mary: So if you were gonna say, where are you at right now with how often are you keeping your appointments with yourself?

Deb: Boy, I’d say 50 /50. 

Mary: Okay. So maybe you wanna try for 60 /40 right now, or maybe you wanna try for 75. 

Deb: I think I’d like to start at 60/ 40 and see how that goes. 

Mary: Okay. So 60% of the time you’re gonna make and keep these commitments to yourself on your calendar.

Deb: Mm-hmm. 

Mary: Okay. Cool. That’ll be progress. 

Deb: Yeah, and I mean the idea is we’re all striving for a hundred percent, but we forgive ourselves if we don’t get there by saying, okay, but were you around 60? Then that was great. 

Mary: And this is why I think that quarterly assessment might be helpful if we do this every 90 days, like let’s say maybe first quarter you try to move from 50 /50 to 60/ 40, and then maybe next quarter you can try to move from 60 /40 to 70 /30, and then the next quarter maybe you move 75% and then the next quarter maybe you moved 80%, but so by the end of the year you could be at 80/ 20.

Deb: I like that. 

Mary: And then you’re achieving your word of the year of self-trust by the end. 

Deb: That sounds awesome. 

Mary: Yeah. You got this. All right. Questions for me? 

Deb: So what if you have like a really difficult time and you’re feeling like you wanna give up? How do you get back on track?

Mary: You say, I love myself anyway. 

Deb: I love myself anyway. 

Mary: Like, I just expect that it’s not gonna be perfect. Right? It’s progress, not perfection. You treat yourself as a human being, right? Cause we are humans, that we are like becoming the kind of people that we want to be, and just know it’s part of being a human that sometimes we’re not gonna do everything perfectly. We’re not supposed to do everything perfectly all the time. 

Deb: Mm-hmm. And let’s say you’re really struggling, could it mean that you have too many things on your schedule and you’d have to actually look at that? I mean, sometimes I wonder if I commit to too many things, could that be part of the problem? 

Mary: Yeah, absolutely. I think about loving ourselves as we do children that we love, right? So when you see children who are learning to walk and at first they kind of like try to stand and then they fall down and then they try to stand again and they fall down, and then they might try to take one step and they fall. And then we just cheer ’em on the whole time. Like, you’re gonna take two steps, you’re gonna take three steps, and eventually they can walk across the room and you celebrate it, but they still fall down. I think about like when I was learning to play the piano, and I wanted to be able just to kind of sit and play, but it took a lot of practice and I hit a along or wrong notes. Right? 

Deb: That’s so funny that you bring that up, Mary, because that’s been one of my goals for a long time, is to improve my piano playing. And this is a great example. I had my husband buy me this. It’s a guy that shows you online how to play music and it’s a whole like program in a box with all the worksheets. And he gave me that two years ago and I have still yet to play the piano. It haunts me to this day.

Mary: Do you wanna learn how to play the piano?

Deb: Yes. 

Mary: How come? 

Deb: I’ve always loved piano and I think it’s such a personal accomplishment and I love the way it sounds, and it’s a personal, joyful thing, but I’ve turned it into an extra thing I have to do because I’m not a good piano player. And I thought this could really help me with my skill level, you know?

Mary: Yeah. So what’s the reason why you wanna do it? 

Deb: Well, because it brings me joy of an accomplishment that’s outside, like anything else. 

Mary: Okay. So if you were gonna look at where you’re at with learning to play the piano, where are you at right now? And wherever you’re at is totally ok.

Deb: I am at zero.

Mary: You’re at zero. What does that mean? Zero. 

Deb: That I’m not doing that at all. 

Mary: Okay. So are you okay with not doing it at all? Because it’s fine with me if you don’t do it at all. 

Deb: I’m learning to let it go because I guess these other things are more of a priority. I would like to maybe put it back in there. 

Mary: Okay. Maybe. I don’t hear a compelling reason in there.

Deb: Hmm. Maybe I’ll give my piano to my granddaughter.

Mary: Maybe. Yeah. So if you did want to learn to play the piano, you’d need a compelling reason.

Deb: Hmm, so that it brings you joy and it’s a goal that you like, would be proud to accomplish. That’s not big enough. 

Mary: I mean, it could be, but I don’t hear it big enough for you right now. 

Deb: Yeah. But I like this idea of maybe something to ask ourself is what is our compelling reason? For this goal, right? 

Mary: Yep, you need a compelling reason, that’s your intention. And then when you are making commitments, those are your boundaries. And then give yourself grace. Create a progress line that’s reasonable for you to achieve, and then celebrate every single time you achieve it. 

Deb: Ooh, yes. Mm. 

Mary: Okay. So just to go over four Rs, a new way to make and keep New Year’s resolutions. First we review, then we revel, then we renew, and then we reassess.

Deb: Hmm. I love it.

Mary: Awesome. You got this, Deb. 

Deb: Thanks, Mary. 

Mary: All right. Take care.