The new year is a time when many people make resolutions to change areas of their lives. They want to lose weight, get a new job, start a business, get out of debt, and a variety of other things. Then, a week or two, maybe a month, into the new year, those resolutions are forgotten and nothing changes.
This year, decide to do it differently. Make this the year that you will finally do those things you’ve been wanting to do. There’s one simple thing that you can do to make sure you make it all happen. Set goals instead of resolutions.
What’s the difference? Resolutions are those things you decide you want to do, yet you don’t really have a plan for getting them done. Goals have an actual plan with tasks that you can check off to see your progress and keep you motivated to move forward.
A resolution might look like: “I’m going to lose weight this year.” While a goal might look like: “I’m going to lose weight by joining a weight loss program, tracking my calories, cutting sugar and carbs, and exercising three times a week.” See the difference? With a goal, there’s a plan to make it happen.
Finally reaching those goals you’ve been wanting to reach for a long time will build your confidence and make you feel happier about your life. Isn’t that a better way to live the new year?
Goals help to direct your focus and attention on the things you want to accomplish and they help you remain persistent until you’ve reached the final goal. They also help you develop problem-solving strategies through the times you reach an impasse and don’t know how to continue moving forward.
Having a goal that you can make progress on daily will not only help you to stay motivated, it will help you build better habits and reach your goals quicker.
Here are the best ways to set a goal that you can actually achieve this year:
1. Make it specific
Your goal should have a specific end result so that you know when you’ve accomplished it. Setting a goal of “losing weight” is not going to help you much. However, setting a goal of “lose 15 pounds” will allow you to feel the success of reaching it. And, it will keep you focused on the end result as you see the number on the scale go down.
The more specific you can be with your goal, the easier it will be to create milestones and know when you’ve accomplished it. If your goal is to make more money, how much money? If your goal is to improve your relationship, how will you do that? Know exactly what you are striving for as you work towards your goals each day.
2. Set a few goals
You don’t need to focus on just one goal at a time. Having a few goals will keep you more motivated. You shouldn’t have more than three to four goals at any time. Having too many goals will become daunting to keep up with and you’ll lose focus and motivation. Give your goals some variety so that you’re improving different areas of your life. For instance, you could set goals that include: “lose 15 pounds,” “read one new book per month,” and “meditate daily.”
3. Write them down
Writing your goals down helps to connect your brain to the goal and keeps you motivated to move forward. Write your goals down and place them where you can see them every day. Include a list of milestones that you want to reach below each goal so that you can check them off as you go. The more you check off, the more motivated you will be to keep going.
4. Focus on the positive
Focus your goals on what you DO want to do, not what you DON’T. Write your goals as a positive action instead of a negative one. For instance, instead of saying “I’m going to avoid sugar,” say, “I will allow myself one sweet treat at the end of the week as a reward for sticking to my diet.” Not only does it allow you to reward yourself for your accomplishments, it keeps you focused on the positive aspects of your goal.
5. Create a plan
Knowing what steps, you need to take each day or each week in order to reach your goal will help you accomplish what you need to. Write down each step that you will need to take in order to reach your goal. For instance, if your goal is to read a new book every month, your list can include selecting and purchasing your book, and reading one chapter per day. If your goal is to improve your relationship by enjoying more date nights, you can start making a list of restaurants you want to go to, shows you want to see, or activities you want to do together.
Now that you have an actionable step, you can add time to your calendar for the steps you want to take.
If your goal is to lose weight, have a smaller weight loss goal for each week. Maybe you plan to lose two pounds per week. That’s something you can focus on and work toward.
Some questions to ask yourself about your goal include:
- What is the end result I want to achieve?
- What are the milestones I want to reach along the way?
- What are the steps I need to take to reach those milestones?
- Who do I need to ask for help?
- Who do I need to include in my goal?
- How will I reward myself for reaching a milestone?
- How much time will I give myself for each milestone? For reaching my ultimate goal?
- How will I reward myself for reaching my ultimate goal?
Ask yourself these questions of each goal you make so that you can start creating your plan for accomplishing them.
6. Review your plan
You may need to adjust your plan from time-to-time and that’s okay. Things happen that take us off track. Maybe you took a vacation in the middle of your diet and put a couple of pounds back on. Or maybe you didn’t set a reminder and missed your daily mediation sessions for a week. Or maybe you’re finding that you are not able to complete a new book every month because you just don’t have enough time for reading. All of that is okay. Just do your best to readjust your goals as necessary so that you can get back on track quickly without losing too much motivation.
Set a new goal or revise the current one to get your focus back on your goal. Commit to working out an extra day to help you get back on track with your diet. Create an “appointment” on your calendar for meditation so you don’t forget. Switch to audiobooks that you can listen to on your commute if you don’t have enough time to read. Whatever your goal, if you’re not achieving it, review what needs to change in order for you to do better.
7. Get a partner/coach
An accountability partner can help keep you motivated towards your goal and let you know when you’re going off track. Find someone who will check in with you regularly to see how it’s going. Maybe you can do the same for them if they have goals they’re wanting to reach as well. Make a plan for regular check-ins, daily or weekly, to report your progress. Knowing that you have to share your progress with someone else will keep you accountable for your actions.
By setting goals instead of resolutions this year, you’ll be more focused and you’ll have a plan for how you will finally achieve those things you’ve been wanting to do year after year. You’ll finally be motivated to make progress.
Resolutions are too easy to forget about soon after you make them. There isn’t a plan for achieving them and you’re not committed to the outcome because it’s too vague.
Goals, with an action plan and an end result, will keep you motivated as you make tiny steps in the right direction. Each time you move forward a bit, you’ll be motivated to keep going. Your goal of losing 15 pounds might seem hard, yet once you lose 2 or 3 pounds, you’ll know you’re moving in the right direction and you’re seeing some positive change. This will help you to keep moving forward.
Instead of making resolutions this year, make this the year you finally do those things you’ve always wanted to do by setting goals instead. You’ll be so proud of yourself for finally crossing that finish line.
Want to find more ways to create a better year for yourself? Check out my latest book, Living Your Joy, Creating a Joy-Filled Life Edited by Joyce Graham It will help you move into the new year with a positive outlook on the year. You can get your copy right from my website. Also, feeling like a coach is what will help you stay on track I can support you with that. Call for a FREE consultation to see how I can support you with your goals in the new year!