Many of us think of setting goals as being similar to making New Year’s Resolutions. If you’re like most people, these aren’t usually successful. There are a couple of reasons why resolutions may not work well for you. If they do, great. Keep doing what you’re doing, but if they don’t then read on.
We’re so used to breaking our resolutions, that we start to think it is okay try a little and then give up. It’s a mindset thing. A goal on the other hand, particularly if it’s a smart goal (more on that in a minute), is something we believe we can reach. That makes us work a little harder and not give up on the end goal.
No More Resoutions
Resolutions tend to be pretty vague. We want to lose weight, get back in shape, stop smoking or make more money. None of that is very specific. How much weight do you want to lose and in what time frame? When do you want to quit smoking and how are you going to get there? What does it mean to you to be in shape? How much money do you want to have in the bank and what do you want to save it up for?
Goals allow you to be a lot more specific. You can set attainable goals with a deadline and milestones or mini goals along the way. That’s what makes a goal a smart goal. A year is too long of a time frame for a single goal. And that’s what we make resolutions for, isn’t it? We make them on January 1st and we make them for the entire year.
There are two problems there. Early in January we feel like we have lots and lots of time to get our act together. A couple of cookies or slices of pizza in January won’t hurt if we have until December 31st to lose the weight. Then time starts to get away from us and that’s when the 2nd problem arises. Losing 25 pounds over the course of a year seemed doable. But if you haven’t made any progress in October and have Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas ahead of you, it now seems like an impossible goal to reach.
So what should you do instead? It’s fine to make a goal, or call it a resolution if you’d like at the beginning of the year. Just don’t stop there. Be more specific. What’s the goal you’d like to reach? Put down a number, or describe what your end goal looks like. When do you want to reach your goal by? It could be December 31st, but it doesn’t have to be.
Next, set some mini goals along the way. If you have a big goal like using 24 pounds during the coming year, set mini goals of losing 2 pounds each and every month. Check in every couple of weeks and make sure you’re still on track. If you can, get ahead of schedule. Things will happen, you’ll get sick, there’s a wedding to attend with lots of good food etc. Getting ahead of your goal schedule gives you a bit of a buffer to work with. And all this tracking will help you keep accountable and stick with your resolutions no matter what time of year it is.
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