January is a natural time to reflect and set goals. It’s a new year; a fresh start. It’s when many of us make resolutions in the name of self-improvement.
To me, New Year’s resolutions bring up mixed feelings. I made them year after year in my youth and always came up short.
That’s because my goals were vague, lofty, and unfocused. “Get toned arms”; “Learn a new language”; “Save more money”. The intentions were there, but how exactly did I think I was going to make any of these dreams come true?
Finally, I realized what I’d been doing wrong. I’d been following every rule in the “How to give up on your New Year’s Resolutions by February” guide. A few years ago, I was given some excellent advice: to make a specific, realistic goal with a timeline built right into it. I decided to try one new thing every week. Not only did I succeed, my resolution had turned into habit by April. I’ve been setting – and achieving – realistic goals ever since.
I know I’m not the only one who’s struggled to see a resolution through to December, so I came up with a list of what to do and what not to do. I hope you find a relevant tip in here that will help you achieve all of your 2016 goals!
DON’T: Set it and Forget it. You’ve come up with your goal. You’re motivated. You know exactly what you want. But come January 1st, you realize you don’t have a first step. You might get distracted with work, household chores, everyday life, and by mid-January you’ve forgotten all about your goal.
DO: Set Mini-Goals. You’ve come up with your end-goal – great! Now it’s time to dig a bit deeper. What do you need to do today to help you get there? How about tomorrow? Next week? Set daily, weekly, and monthly goals to serve as benchmarks towards the big one. Breaking your goal down into a bunch of smaller goals makes it a lot less scary.
DON’T: Keep it quiet. Your goal lives only in your mind. You haven’t shared it with anyone and you haven’t written it down.
DO: Shout it from the rooftops! Okay, so you don’t need to tell your entire neighbourhood about your resolution. But sharing your goals with someone you trust, such as your partner, a close friend or a family member is a good way to keep you present and accountable. If you’re not comfortable telling anyone your goal, that’s okay. Just tell yourself, over and over! Write it down and keep it somewhere you will see it on a daily basis – the fridge, your bedside table, your bathroom mirror, etc.
DON’T: Get Discouraged and Give Up. You started off the New Year on the right foot. You made resolutions, you created an action plan, and you stuck to it for a few weeks or maybe even a few months. But all of a sudden, life gets in the way. You miss a few mini-goals and lose momentum. Frustrated, you decide you’ll never manage to catch up. You vow to try again next January.
DO: Go with the Flow. Life is unpredictable. You’re likely to face a setback at some point in the year that may threaten to disrupt your carefully mapped out plan. No biggie! Realistic goals are adaptable ones. Build some wiggle room into your plan and give yourself the time and space to reflect daily, weekly or monthly on what is or isn’t working. Journaling about your progress is a great way to do this. The beauty behind regular reflection is that you’re able to course-correct without losing time or momentum. Remember: adjusting the plan is perfectly acceptable, and often necessary, when it comes to reaching a goal.
If you’ve ever made a resolution or set a goal for yourself and failed to achieve it, ask yourself:
- Was it SMART? (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely)
- Did I have an action plan?
- Did I ever check in with myself on my progress?
- Did I modify my goal and adapt my plan if it wasn’t working?
This time around, try setting mini-goals, share them with others, and don’t fret if you fall behind. Just show up the next day, and keep showing up again and again, and by this time next year, you’ll be a resolution-achieving machine! Good luck!