We’re coming up on a new year, which means New Years Resolutions! I love setting goals, and every single year for as long as I can remember, I’ve created New Years Resolutions. I’m a pen and paper girl, so breaking out a brand new notebook to list my resolutions for the next year was, for many years, my December tradition.
Goal setting is nothing new, but this seems to be a hot topic around December as people look ahead to the new year. A new year means new beginnings and it only makes sense that this is the most popular time of year to set goals. But, goal setting still happens year around. More often than not, these goals seem to fail. Heck, by the end of January, that awesome, sparkling new notebook was MIA and covered in dust somewhere. I’m pretty sure I’ve failed every resolution I’ve set.
When it comes to New Years resolutions, there seems to be an equal split of opinions whether or not these are a good idea. Some experts and psychologists feel it’s a good time to create new ideas for the new year. Others believe that it’s a recipe for disaster as it is estimated that more than 90% of resolutions fail.
Regardless of what ‘experts’ think, setting goals any time of year can fail or they can succeed, it’s pretty cut and dry. Yet, there are extra steps that can be taken to set things up for success.
Why Resolutions Fail
People create goals without taking the time to consider the changes needed.
- It’s almost tunnel vision – Although you might know where you want to end up, you might not have taken the time to carve out the path needed to reach that finish line. Taking that big goal and breaking it down into smaller, more achievable pieces can make things more manageable.
Goals aren’t set for the right reason.
- You can’t identify your true ‘why’. People often think they’ll lose weight and will suddenly be happy, or pay off debt and be happy, or clean out their house and be happy. Yet, the real reason is bigger than extra pounds, or credit card debt. Taking the time to identify the reason why you want to accomplish these goals will help as motivation starts to wane.
People set resolutions because it is the first, not because they are READY to make any set changes.
- This can happen with any goals, not just New Years resolutions. Whether you are choosing to start your resolution at the beginning of the month or the beginning of the week, or the beginning of the year, if you aren’t READY to make the changes, you probably won’t stick with it. Being ready means making a plan, detailing the steps needed, the equipment needed, the time needed, etc. It’s incorporating the 5 W’s – Who do you need to help you reach your goal, what is your goal, where are you going to have to go to accomplish goals (meetings, the gym, specialty classes, etc…) when are you going to carve out time to work towards your new goal, and why are you doing this?
No accountability – There’s no one to hold you accountable for your changes.
- Who is going to be your cheerleader? Who can you reach out to when you accomplish successful steps towards your goal and who will you reach out to when you are struggling? Finding a solid support system increases the odds of reaching your goals.
No Room for Error
- Expecting perfection is a recipe for disaster. It is paramount that you wrap your head and heart around the fact that nobody is perfect, even you! Changing habits is HARD, and some days will be easier than others. There are some days that just aren’t going to go your way. The beautiful thing is that each day you get a fresh start, and one bad day isn’t the end all be all.
Ways to be Successful in Goal Setting
Find a goal that motivates and excites you
- Sometimes, the best way to find a truly motivating goal is to dream big. Spend some time with this step. Where do you want to be in ten years or even five years? Create categories if you need help coming up with ideas. Where do you see yourself career wise? Personal life? Financially? Health wise? Educationally? Any dream trips? Make a list.
Make 1 goal
- From that list, find the one that excites you the most, the one thing on that list that appeals to you the most. Find one goal you want to devote your attention to first. Spend the time to focus on making changes towards one end goal first.
Break one larger resolution into smaller steps.
- This is a BIG goal, one you aren’t going to achieve in one year. That’s okay. Take this big dream and break it down into steps. What will you need to change, to do, or to make happen before this goal can become a reality? Break this goal into small steps.
- I personally love the 12 Week year, and have much more faith in my goal setting abilities by applying the basic principles of the 12 week year. Instead of focusing on a goal for 1 year, I break my giant goal into steps, and outline what I can reasonably accomplish in 12 weeks, 3 months. Then, I re-evaluate my progress and adjust my big goal every 12 weeks.
Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t do
- It’s a mantra I try to teach my kids and I try to remind myself ALL the time. Every time someone makes me mad or hurts my feelings, I try to so hard to remember that all I can do is control myself and how I respond. This applies to goals too. I can’t control everything and life is going to throw curve balls, no matter how well you plan. So, I set big goals, I break down my goals into steps and then I evaluate. When it comes to my writing, I have lofty goals, but I don’t set goals I can’t control. I can control how many posts I write, I can control what courses I’m going to take to further my knowledge base, but I can’t control how many people read my blog.
- When it comes to weight loss, I can control what I eat, how much I eat in a day. I can’t control what the scale says and I quit making scale goals. I also realize that although I’d like to go to the gym five days a week, my body isn’t always going to be up for that and my schedule sometimes can’t handle five days, so four out seven days is a good number for me. I’ve learned by trial and error.
Reward yourself when you accomplish these smaller steps
- Once you break down your goals, set rewards. If money is tight, or your goal is paying off debt, try to incorporate rewards as a line item in your budget. It is part of paying yourself first. Nothing crazy or extravagant, even $5 towards a new nail polish or a new paperback book or magazine. Accomplishing small steps is a big deal and it is important to acknowledge the hard work you’ve put in towards changing habits!
Goals and resolutions can be an important part of some peoples life. It’s a chance to visualize a path in moving forward. Taking the time to brainstorm what you want to accomplish is just as important as figuring out a plan to accomplish the goals created. They go hand in hand and evaluating progress is also equally important. Setting goals isn’t just a New Years Resolution, but an option for any time during the year!