January may get all the attention, but when it comes to New Year’s goals, January is not the most important month. It’s easy to set an intention at the start of the year — the real challenge is committing to that intention for eleven more months.
February and March are actually the most important months for any New Year’s goal. These are the months when you have to really dig in, to stick with the intention that you set. They are also prime months for giving up on your New Year’s goals.
If you haven’t consistently achieved your goal during the first two months of the year, it’s easy to feel like a failure, become demotivated, and throw in the towel.
I can tell you right now: You’re not a failure. And your goal isn’t ruined.
In fact, this is the perfect month to review your goal.
For my fellow corporate professionals, March often rings in the end of Q1. It’s a time to assess company or department goals that were set in January. When a year-long business initiative isn’t going perfectly at the end of Q1, do you throw it out and start from scratch? Probably not. More likely, you conduct a Q1 review to go over what’s working, the challenges you’re facing, and a roadmap for approaching Q2 more effectively.
You should be doing the same thing with your health and wellness intentions.
March is the perfect time to sit down and give your goals a performance review. (Note: You are not the one up for review here, your goal is the one in the hot seat. This isn’t about grading or judging yourself, it’s about assessing the goal to see whether it’s working for you.)
Here are four important questions to ask yourself when reviewing your New Year’s intention.
1. Am I able to easily measure my progress on this intention?
Start your goal review by writing down the metrics you’re using to track your progress. What are you measuring in order to see that you’re meeting the goal?
If you are feeling a lack of motivation in your intention, it may be because you can’t clearly tell if you are improving or not. When you set a vague goal, such as to “eat healthier” or to “exercise more,” it’s difficult to see whether you’re making progress throughout the year. You probably have been doing better than you think — you just haven't been able to notice.
Being able to recognize your progress helps to boost motivation and confidence. It’s important to celebrate small victories along your health and wellness journey.
If your review reveals that you don’t have clear metrics, it’s time to adjust your goal to make it more measurable.
Consider metrics like number of steps per day, amount of vegetables with each meal, or length of time practicing meditation each week. Choose something that’s easy for you to track, and update your goal to align with that metric.
2. Do I have the right accountability for this intention?
Now that you’ve reviewed (and perhaps updated!) your metrics, it’s time to reflect on your source of accountability. List all of the people that you feel accountable to for your intention. This may include yourself (present or future self), family members, a friend, a group of people, an organization, or a coach.
If you’ve been struggling to meet your goal, this may be a sign that you don’t have enough accountability — or that you don’t have the right kind of accountability.
Not all sources of accountability are created equally. Some people feel strongly committed to a workout buddy; others feel more bound by joining a group or club; and some feel most accountable to an authority figure such as a coach, trainer, or teacher.
If your review reveals a lack of accountability, brainstorm some ways to add external accountability that makes you feel motivated. If you are looking for a quick win, start by joining my Facebook Group: Be the CEO of Your Stress to become part of a community of bold womxn focusing on their health and taking back their freedom from stress.
3. Does this intention fit into my schedule?
Next up in your goal review: write down what times of day you’ve been successful in completing your intention so far. If you haven’t had time for the intention, write down why not.
This can reveal where your goal may be mismatched with your schedule. Did you set an intention to cook dinner at home every night of the week, without considering that you work late three nights each week? Was your intention to exercise for one hour every day, but you can’t find a free hour in your calendar during the week?
Update your intention to fit the time you have. Then (this is important) put it on your calendar.
It may sound silly to put an intention about eating or mindfulness on the calendar, but the reality is that if your wellness habit doesn’t fit into your schedule, it simply won’t happen.
If you are a high-achieving, ambitious person like me, I’m willing to bet you put almost anything else that’s important to you on the calendar — from work meetings to social events — to ensure that you set aside time to do it. Why should your health and stress relief be any different?
4. What tools do I have for this intention? Are they working?
If your intention is something you’ve struggled to achieve or maintain in the past, you can’t expect to achieve it this year by using the same strategies.
As part of your goal review, ask yourself: What new tools and strategies have you put in place this year, to help you achieve this intention? Which ones have worked well so far? Which strategies aren’t working? Why not?
If you aren’t meeting a goal you’ve set, I promise it’s not because you’re lazy or incapable — it’s often because you haven’t found the right tool(s) to help you follow through. If your current toolkit isn’t cutting it, it’s time to add something new. Hire a health coach to provide you step by step guidance and support for your goals, schedule a meal prep day into your week, or sign up for an OnDemand fitness membership with a community to keep you accountable.
Review, Readjust and Keep Going!
If you set a new health or wellness goal this January, and you have been struggling to meet it, don’t give up. You’re not failing — the goal is failing you.
Now is the perfect time to adjust your intentions to make them trackable, identify new sources of accountability, put them in your calendar, or add a new tool to your toolkit to make it easier for yourself to follow through.
You are the CEO of your own life so review your health and wellness intentions each quarter, just like you’d review a business project or company initiative. If your goals don’t work for you yet, let’s adjust them so they do!
About the Author
Alexa Hanshaw is a health and stress management coach who helps women be the CEO of their stress. She empowers her clients to push past the confusion of the health and wellness industry to create lifestyle habits that bring them energy and work with their bodies instead of against it.
Join her free Facebook group, Be the CEO of Your Stress and follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube for quick, easy & healthy tips on stress, health, fitness, nutrition, sleep, and how to stay mindful!