As the year draws to a close and January 1st is just around the corner, this is the time when many of us make New Years Resolutions. But have you noticed that most people don't succeed in following through? Why is that? Perhaps the goals weren't specific enough. Or perhaps the motivation to make a New Years Resolution was greater than the motivation to achieve the goal (we can thank the media for that one).
Whether you want to start off the new year with a new goal or you like to set goals year round, there are a few things you'll need to do in order to set yourself up for success and increase your chances of achieving it.
Goal Setting Tips
- Make your goal SMART. Set a goal that is Specific, Measurable/Meaningful, Attainable, Realistic, and Trackable/has a Time frame. For instance, if your goal is "I am going to go to bed before 11pm at least 4 nights per week", that will have a greater chance of success than if your goal is "I am going to go to bed earlier" - you see the difference? Or instead of "I want to get in shape", a better goal would be "I am going to go to the gym at least 3 days per week."
- Write it down. This sets the process in motion and also makes it easier for you to revisit and review your goal more frequently.
- Break down big goals into smaller ones to make them seem less overwhelming and more attainable. If you want to accomplish something 2 years from now, setting short term goals (every few weeks or months) will help keep you motivated.
- Get clear on your motivation and stay connected to it because it's inevitable that there will be times when you want to give up. If you don't know what you're doing and why you're doing it, staying the course will be very difficult.
- Ask yourself why you want to accomplish your goal? What will happen if you do it? What will it cost you if you don't? This goes hand-in-hand with #4. Really dig deep and get clear on your goal as a whole in order to maintain focus and motivation throughout your journey.
- Ask yourself how badly do you want to accomplish your goal? You have to really want it and you have to be willing to do the work for it. So many of us have the "quick fix" or "instant gratification" mentality that we don't want to do the work. Understand now that you might not see results right away and you might not enjoy every moment of this process. The first few days of a new exercise regimen or eating program might, in fact, feel like one of the hardest things you've ever had to do. You might feel frustrated, you might feel upset, and you might want to give up. But revisiting #4 and #5 above -- reconnecting with your motivation, results, and consequences -- and combining that with the understanding that this process is not going to be easy all the time and it might require a lot of effort or even take you out of your comfort zone, is key.