6 Magic Questions
New Year's resolutions have started to feel a little icky. Lots of forward-thinking coaches and leaders rag on them: They put undue societal pressure on us (eh, what doesn’t?). They are rarely kept (whatever, I’ll get back to that one). They allow us to slag off for all of Dec (this one is pretty valid, but in your control). Look, I got no beef with New Year’s resolutions. First off, our lazy brains like clear “new beginnings” and “fresh starts.” Secondly, there’s no problem with not “keeping” our resolutions, the problem lies in how we measure success. Resolutions, goals, objectives, intentions whatever….they’re good things. Growth is good. Knowing where we want to prioritize our energy is good. And doing it in the New Year can be good because we can easily wrap our busy minds around what a year is and say, “ok, this is what I want to focus on for this period of time.” The problem is that we have this internalized idea that success is binary. We think it’s a yes/no question…did you do the thing or not? Yes = Success. Resolution Kept! Huzzah. Gold Star! No = Failure. Procession of Shame.
I had 3 main intentions for 2020. I wanted to create a sustainable career in fitness. I wanted to be alcohol-free. I wanted to eat vegan at home. Let’s just jump right in. Rather than evaluate these as resolutions that were “kept” or “not kept” let’s shift to a set of 6 Magic Questions and see how that changes the impact of the intention.
Create a sustainable business
What was the outcome? ie Fitness was born this March as I transitioned from seeing a handful of clients in person to training about 5x as many folks online. I no longer have to supplement my income with other consulting gigs.
How did this goal positively impact your life? Pushed me to build my dream career. I invested in business education that I would not have otherwise. I have been able to help a bunch of awesome people.
How did this goal negatively impact your life? I felt very stressed sometimes
What did you learn? Marketing principles, better organization, better ways to scale, to be nimble and try new things, testing and experimenting - things will “fail” - keep going!
What will you do as a result of this? Follow the proven processes that have been successful. Continue investing in my growth. Continue creating an unparalleled online experience of support and strength for my clients.
What will you stop doing as a result of this? Being everything to everyone, over-architecting before testing something
Being Alcohol Free
What was the outcome? No alcohol until July. Some drinking (much lighter than before) the rest of the year.
How did this goal positively impact your life? Felt better, slept better, looked better, got more done. Improved relationships (less inward focus). Less desire to drink.
How did this goal negatively impact your life? No neg impacts
What did you learn? Most importantly, this very lesson on measures of success! Because of this goal, which had no negative impact, I feel so much better this year. I have reduced my alcohol to…I don’t know…1/5 of what it would have been otherwise…yet, by traditional standards we’d call it a broken resolution, a failure. NO WAY!! NO. DANG. WAY.
What will you do as a result of this? I will keep listening to/reading alcohol-free mentors/coaches. I will keep putting in the time to reflect on my own journey. I will continue to look at any goals and outcomes without judgement and with curiosity.
What will you stop doing as a result of this? All or nothing thinking.
Eating Vegan At Home
What was the outcome? 100% Vegan at home until Spring. Tapered off. Eat more animal products as ever.
How did this goal positively impact your life? Increased vitamin and mineral intake from more veggies and legumes, learned lots of new whole food plant based recipes, felt ethically more sound about food choices
How did this goal negatively impact your life? I ate more processed foods (snacks, plant-based “meats”) when too busy to cook. I was often stressed trying to juggle work with protein intake, cooking, etc
What did you learn? This was too big for me to bite off and I kind of stopped all together rather than just scaling back, especially when I moved. There were things I really enjoyed about being plant-based and things that were overwhelming. Finding the time to keep up with this was less of a priority to me than building my business and some other commitments.
What will you do as a result of this? Set a new more achievable goal for meals aligned with my ethics. Complete my plant based nutrition certification. Continue to incorporate plant-based recipes I like.
What will you stop doing as a result of this? Aiming for 100% plant-based. Eating processed vegan snacks and processed plant proteins.
I’m not giving myself or you a free pass here. We should, of course, try to “do” our goals and hold ourselves accountable. But if the whole point of a resolution or intention is to grow in some way - what will get us there more effectively - putting all our energy into a checked/unchecked box or focusing on the process? That is, looking at what’s working, what’s not working, how priorities might be shifting, how we want to grow in the future, etc. No resolution is “unkept” if you take something from it. So consider me an old school trainer trying to hustle you into a January package! I’m not, really (!), but I AM reclaiming the resolution. I'd encourage you to look back at your 2020 goals. Instead of success/failure or yes/no or gold star/procession of shame, ask yourself the 6 magic questions. Use those learnings to set some intentions for this year. Do I think you’re perfect the way you are? Hell yes I do! But I also want you to keep growing. And that doesn’t happen randomly. Set goals and measure them the right way - without judgment, with curiosity, and with 6 magic questions.