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Community Spotlight

How Ditching "Resolutions” Helped Me Stop Feeling Like A Failure (And What I Do Instead)

Coach Kerri Kohli discusses how new year's resolutions can set us up for failure, and how choose an annual theme instead can help you achieve your goals.

Guest blog by Kerri Kohli

Coach Kerri Kohli

During her decade-long career in management at both the corporate and start-up levels, Kerri used her skills in leadership to help her teams grow professionally. Today she applies those experiences as a coach, helping others to advance their careers by identifying their passions and highlighting their strengths. 

As a Career + Success Coach, Kerri helps clients navigate the tangled web of career transitions, job applications, salary negotiations and finding mentors... along with the mindset to believe that you are worth it every step of the way! Kerri believes that big results come from consistent small steps, and that's the theory she uses to coach others to their full potential. 

Kerri is a 2021 graduate of the Lumia Coaching Intensive. You can follow her work on Instagram @windowsillcoaching or by visiting windowsillcoaching.com. 

How Creating A “Theme Year” Instead of Resolutions Can Set You Up For Success

We’ve all been there before…

It’s the end of the year, December 31, and you’re having a great time at your New Year’s Eve party when someone mentions the dreaded “R” word: Resolutions

Your stomach drops, your face flushes, maybe your eyes roll, and you’re fearing a fellow party-goer will ask what your 2021 resolutions were. Truth is, you have no idea! You can barely remember what you had for dinner last night, let alone what you committed to 11.9 months ago! Then you think the worst thought of them all, “Clearly, I failed.” So you resolve (lol) to never make resolutions again.

If you’ve ever had this experience, you’re not alone. Multiple studies have shown that up to 80% of resolutions made on December 31st fail by mid-February. The most common reason is that these resolutions are not specific enough. 

I have another theory.

Resolutions come preloaded with a negative energy. Already, you’re committing to something for an entire year, without any evidence that you can accomplish this thing - or that you really want to!

Resolutions are setting you up to fail. 

That’s why I encourage working in a Theme Year.

Instead of coming up with arbitrary resolutions like: lose weight, exercise more, save more money, quit smoking, etc., consider working with a theme for your year that you can set goals around during the year, and not before it’s even begun.

How to Choose Your Theme

In literature, a theme is defined as “a universal idea, lesson, or message explored throughout a work…” So let’s think about how that might apply to your life - your intentions, hopes, and aspirations for the year ahead.

First, I invite you to do some self-reflection. 

We’re halfway through December, so today is a good day to start. Find your medium: a diary, journal, Google Doc, sticky notes, voice memos - whatever works for you.

Now ask yourself the following questions, and record what comes up:

  • What went really well for me this year?
  • What am I most proud of this year?
  • Who helped me and supported me this year? How?

We’re using these questions to remind ourselves what did go well, even if this was a tough year. You may have forgotten some of these, brushing them off as “small wins” - but they’re WINS nonetheless! Calling the best parts of the last 12 months to mind will help boost your confidence going into a new year. Also - you’re giving yourself the chance to see what you really enjoyed doing. 

Remember to also focus on who helped support you. You’re going to want to lean on these people in the next year when things get tough. Knowing you have people who love and care about you and who have your back will propel you forward as you work toward new goals.

Next, let’s focus on what you wanted to do, but didn’t. 

What held you back? What were your roadblocks? How and why was it a roadblock for you? This step can help you get more clear and specific about your goal-attaintment process, and any patterns or factors that tend to get in the way of achieving your aspirations.

Continue journaling by asking yourself:

  • What did I want to do this year, but didn’t?
  • What was the roadblock that got in my way?
  • Why was this something I couldn’t solve this year?
  • If I had all the tools and resources available, how would I get around this roadblock?
  • Am I willing to clear this block?

Notice what comes up for you. Is it around confidence, prioritization, organization, knowledge, fierceness, judgement? Is the thing you didn’t do still something that is important to you?

What you want to be thinking about here is simple - does this block show up in other areas for me? If it does - it’s a theme! 

How To Help Your Clients Set A Theme Year

As a coach, I love doing the above as a vocal exercise in session and reflecting back what I hear from my client. Encourage your client to keep asking why until they get to the bottom layer - chances are, this has shown up for them before in other areas. Sometimes, you’ll catch something they didn’t even realize they said and identify a strong theme. 

Let’s use an example:

Say I’m the client and my coach does this exercise with me. In the process, I realize that what holds me back is my fear of judgement. In my case, I see fear showing up all over the place:

  • I held back on creating that vulnerable blog post because I was afraid of what my Facebook friends would think of me.
  • I didn’t post about my e-book because I was worried I might get a bad review.
  • I stopped myself from working with a client because I told myself I wasn’t ready and I referred them on to another coach. 

So, my theme for 2022 might be “Releasing Judgement”

Over the next year, with any goal I make, I plan to center it around releasing judgement. 

This might look like:

Goal: In 2022, I will make 100k in my business. 

Theme: Releasing Judgement

Ask: In what ways could judgement show up in this goal?

  • Questioning if I’m worth 100k.
  • Am I greedy for wanting that when I could be comfortable with 60k?
  • Will people believe I can make 100k as a Life Coach? Why does that matter to me?

Ask: How can I use my strengths from 2021 to release judgement about this goal?

  • I consistently followed my social media posting schedule in 2021 - doing it again will get me the exposure with the right clients for 2022.
  • I love helping people, and I'm good at it. Last year, I was able to help "Amy" realize her career was burning her out. And look at her now, she’s so happy in her new role! I helped Amy change her life.

Now, when I work on this goal (after my coach helped me set it in the framework of a SMART goal!), we use this theme as a pulse point. 

How does this help me not feel like a failure?

By aligning my goals throughout the year to a theme, I started to better identify what I really wanted to accomplish. Before, I’d make goals based on other people, or what I was reading at the time, and so on. They would be things like:

  • “I’m going to lose 15 pounds this year!” Why? I didn’t need to. I already felt great. 
  • Or, “I’m going to save money” Ok, how much, how am I saving, what am I saving for? 

None of these ever felt like they were growing me.

With themes, I am identifying something within myself that I'd like to shift. Something I can make active, clear progression on throughout the year. I am examining why I don’t reach my goals sometimes, and reflecting on if that’s the right goal for me. In the process, I become more authentically me. 

If I don’t reach some of those goals, instead of feeling like a failure I recognize that the theme I'm working with is still present. It just means that I still have work to do, and there are steps I can take. I perceive it as a positive challenge and a way to grow versus a failure that brought me down.

Now it's your turn!

How do you feel about Theme Years vs Resolutions? I’d love to hear from you - please message me on IG @windowsillcoaching or contact me through my website to tell me how it goes! 

Want to Become A Coach?

One of our values at Lumia is that we dare to be different. Our coaches like Kerri ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you are ready to step into your power and you’d like some partners in the process, come check out Lumia Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.

Lumia Coaching: Vibrant community. Evidence-based life coach training. Lifetime support.

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