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How to stop procrastinating and actually set and accomplish your New Year's resolutions

Jamie Killin   

How to stop procrastinating and actually set and accomplish your New Year's resolutions
  • Sonia Jhas is a speaker, author, and coach who helps clients set and achieve New Year's resolutions.
  • She says the first step in reaching your goals is not relying on your future self to handle it.

Sonia Jhas is a TEDx speaker and author from Toronto who coaches people on wellness, self-esteem, productivity, purpose, and perseverance. Before realizing her desire to become a speaker and author, she was a client manager at IBM.

She's found in her own experience and through working with clients that New Year's resolutions fail when people set goals that look good on paper but don't align with their reality. She helps her clients set realistic, sustainable, and measurable resolutions.

Here are her strategies for stopping the excuses and procrastination and accomplishing your goals in the coming year.

Let go of an idealized version of your future self

The first step to making changes that stick is letting go of the idea that a future version of yourself will figure it out and start making positive changes based on where you are today.

"All my life, I lived with this idea that future Sonia wasn't going to suffer in the ways current Sonia did," Jhas told Business Insider. "I thought future Sonia was going to find a way to have more commitment, more resilience — I told myself she isn't even going to want doughnuts."

It's even more unproductive to lean into bad habits today in anticipation of your future self behaving perfectly tomorrow — whether that's eating all the cookies or lounging around all day. This form of procrastination pushes responsibility onto an imagined, future version of a better self who may never exist.

"For so long I was filled with this longing and desire to arrive at this place where the whole Rubik's Cube would line up the way it's supposed to," she said.

"I realized time and time again that there's no magic mindset fix — whether it's January 1, January 3, or Dry January — or any other version of that perfect start date." It's best to start today.

Stop searching for a quick fix

Jhas advises against believing that happiness is just one push of hard work away and instead encourages her clients to commit to long-term mindset changes.

"We believe so deeply that happiness is just 10 pounds away," she said. "We want to sprint and get there as fast as we can because we think then we'll be happy, and we'll be able to slow down and take a breath."

Jhas finds that linking happiness to achievement makes us feel unfulfilled and causes the "wins" to feel anticlimactic. Instead, she advises her clients to allow themselves the freedom to be enough while still making progress. She also cautions against forcing ourselves into a "robot mode" that will push us toward our goals. Instead, address the "why" behind your desires and be intentional.

Before jumping headfirst into your goals for the New Year, she suggests taking stock of your values and how they align with your goals — even if the exploration takes all of January. Ensure that your goals are yours, not those set by friends or family.

"I grew up in a household where I was heavily kneaded into being the perfect version of who I thought I was supposed to be," she said. "I had no idea where my parents stopped and where I started. It led to an early midlife crisis at 25 where I was like, 'I actually don't want to do this.'"

To determine if your goals and values are truly your own, she recommends journaling, seeking feedback from trusted friends or professionals, and practicing awareness through meditation, breathwork, and other mindfulness practices.

Create a mindset manifesto

Once you identify your goals, evaluate your tactics to reach them and create what Jhas calls a "mindset manifesto."

"For me, it serves the same purpose as a vision board, where you're thinking about what you want your future self to experience. Drop into an aligned place where you can picture your day — maybe it's 'I wake up in the morning, my feet touch the ground, and I reach for a glass of water…' The visualization of it allows you to be the main character in your movie."

Then write down whatever best captures the feeling you want to experience, whether it's a statement, keywords, or an in-depth diary entry. Jhas advises her clients to keep it on their phones and use it to remember their goals and their "why."

"It's a functional model to feed decisions through," she said. "How else are you making decisions? Are you hoping you're just not going to want a doughnut? Or that you'll want to go to the gym when it's dark at 4 p.m.?"

Start small

Jhas advises incorporating small, failproof habits — such as waking up and doing one minute of breathwork or 10 minutes of stretching — into your routine to create a mindset shift and build momentum.

"You're going to move at your own pace when you're connected to who you are, and then momentum builds, but not to a climax where you're going to fall off a cliff. It builds, and then it may slow down, but you'll build again without falling off the wagon," she said.

According to Jhas, this also requires self-trust and control, knowing that if you snooze one morning because your body needs extra rest, it's not falling off the cliff; it's being in tune with yourself and knowing you'll give yourself what you need to reach your goals the next day.