Can we talk for a quick second about the difference between a New Years resolution and a goal? I love the idea behind New Years resolutions, but let’s be honest. They’re a joke. They are the (often) drunken promises we make to ourselves when we look in the mirror at midnight. They represent what we hate about ourselves. They are unachievable and easily forgotten.
When I was a teenager I had a good friend whose family made a big deal out of resolutions. First, they would pull out the resolutions from the previous year. Everyone would get their little strip of paper and tearfully review their previous resolutions. Rarely were these resolutions fulfilled. They would then all pick 5 or so new resolutions for the next year (which were almost always oddly similar to the previous year). Rinse and repeat.
That’s not how goals work – that’s how resolutions work. Goals are not a one and done deal. They are visible and achievable. They involve steps and plans and hard work. Yes, hard work. Any goal worth pursuing involves hard work, I promise you.
Don’t set resolutions. Please. Why not?
- Resolutions are for January. If that. We all know that one person who makes a resolutions and sticks to it but let’s be honest – out of all the people you know, how many actually stick to resolutions? Not many. And the reason if a lack of planning. “I want to eat healthier” is a great goal (or resolution) with without a plan, it’s not going to happen! Goals do not happen accidentally.
- Resolutions Set us Up for Failure. Many people decide to start their resolution on January 1st and feel it must be accomplished by Dec 31st. Why are we setting such deadlines? Deadlines should have some sort of meaning. If you have a project that will take 6 weeks – start right now and the end date should be 6 weeks from now! Don’t wait for a Monday or the 1st of the month. Start now (right this minute! Not tomorrow morning). And keep in mind that you will have set backs. But how you respond will set the stage. If you have a bad diet day are you going to drown yourself in ice cream? Or will you cook a healthy dinner and hop back on the diet train?
- Gyms are Busy in January. Resolutions are traditional and many people give them a good shot. This means that gyms (health food stores, organizational stores, etc) are packed the first two weeks of January (and half packed the last 2 weeks). I hate to be negative but the first month of the year is quite predictable. I don’t do crowds so any of my new goals in January are spent at home.
- People don’t believe in Resolutions. As traditional as they are, resolutions are also a joke. While you don’t need other people to believe in you, goals are a lot easier with support. And, in general, you’ll find more support if you set a goal (with a plan) and not a resolution. If you do set a resolution, don’t let this stop you. Make your plan, achieve your goals! Find that person who will support you. But consider calling it a goal instead of a resolution.
- Because they’re trendy. Yes, they’re trendy. Setting resolutions around the new year is the thing to do. But if your only reason for making a resolution is because other people are too, don’t bother. Goals are achieved when people are invested in them, not by accident. Goals require hard work and perseverance.
How to Achieve Your Goals
I don’t want to leave you hanging so here are 5 Steps to Achieving Your Goals.
- Goals Should be S.M.A.R.T. There are many definitions for each word in S.M.A.R.T. but they all achieve about the same thing. Specific, Motivational, Achievable, Results (will produce results), and trackable. Keep this in mind when setting goals.
- Goals Need a Plan. Please do not have a “I want to lose weight” goal without further elaborating. How? When? Why? I’m including a free goal printable that will help you lay it all out with a specific plan. Break it down step by step until you have a daily to do list. Wanting to lose weight is awesome but you need to know how to lose that weight.
- Do not adopt someone else’s goals. Your goals are your goals. If you see what someone else is doing and it motivates you (and checks off all the other S.M.A.R.T. categories) then go for it. But do not adopt another person’s goals if they aren’t right for you. Your goals are for you and no one else.
- Find your tribe. Whether in person, online, family, friends, new friends, doesn’t matter – find your tribe! Find other people with goals, even better if you share similar goals, and check in with each other often. Share your ups and downs. Share your success and struggles. I find searching Facebook for groups is a great place to start.
- Track, track, track, and track. People who track their goals on a daily basis are about 13% more likely to achieve their goals. The tracking does not have to be long and arduous. If you want to walk every day make yourself a monthly check sheet. Every day you walk, add a check. If you want to lose weight, track calories. Your goal should include some way to track your progress. If you’re stuck, send me an e-mail and I will find a way you can track your goal (seriously, firstname.lastname@example.org. I love goals, this is my thing)
To sum it up, I’m going to provide an example of my goals, how I’ve planned it out, how I’ll be tracking it, and things like that.
You can see my big goal and my why. Then part of my medium goal where I start breaking it down step by step.