New year, new you? Set goals not resolutions.

New year, new you? Set goals not resolutions.

In the happy haze of midnight partying on New Year’s Eve, many of us are tempted to make resolutions to change our lives. All things are possible in 2019! The beginning of a new year offers something we crave. A fresh start, hope, a sense of possibility. The running theme of our annual aspirations is seizing back control of our lives from the chaos, idleness, and drift of the ordinary.

Nearly half of us will make NY resolutions. The top 10 include: get fit and healthy, lose weight, enjoy life to the fullest, spend less, save more and spend more time with family and friends. These statements all share one thing in common. They are vague expressions of hope, not solid goals. To reach your goals, you have to actually have a goal that is genuinely meaningful to you. You need an end-point that you can visualise and to know 100% when you have achieved it.

Key questions

  • What did you do well in 2018 that you would like to do even better in 2019?
  • What would you like to do more of?
  • What would enable you to do more of the good stuff?
  • Do you know where your goals came from?
  • Why are they important to you?
  • How would achieving these goals influence your life?

The biggest reason why most New Year’s resolutions fail: you know what you want but not why you want it.

Don’t set yourself up to fail.

Let’s take “Lose weight” as an example. That is like a company setting a profit target as a goal. Weight loss and profit are end results of concerted and consistent activities. They are historical measures and do not inform important behaviours necessary to achieve real goals. Instead, work out the key drivers of the end state you want. If this is weight loss, walking around the block for 20 minutes every day for 2 months and reducing junk food to 1 day a week might be realistic starting goals.

Controllable goals.

Make sure you can control the variables necessary to achieve your goal. If you set as a goal “Start a new relationship”, you cannot control the mysteries of human connection. You might decide to join on-line dating sites, start a new hobby or go out more often with friends but you cannot control whether or not you will meet anyone with whom you have a mutual attraction.

Don’t give up if you mess up.

When you set goals, it is highly likely you will slip backwards on occasion. One bad day doesn’t negate your progress. It can be tempting to give up the whole venture rather than recalibrate and start again. Don’t be your own worst critic and judge yourself overly harshly. The process is as important as reaching the end goal and this may need to be refined and modified. Breaking down your goals into bite-size chunks and then setting new ones is more effective psychologically. It helps to create momentum and small “wins”.

Build in rewards.

Building in days off or giving yourself small treats as you reach each milestone can help keep you motivated. If you have given up smoking, saving the money you would otherwise have spent on cigarettes and then spending it on a massage, new clothes or even a holiday can help offset feelings of deprivation. Working towards goals should not feel like constant punishment.

Make them about others

To seek good health is wise and to seek happiness natural. But challenges like how I respond to others, handle criticism, speak about other people, react when I feel wronged, or how I share what I am feeling — may have a much more profound effect on how 2019 goes.

Goals are what take us forward in life – they are the oxygen to our dreams. Now it’s your turn! What are your goals for 2019?

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