Forget New Year’s Resolutions! Focus on SMART Goals Instead.
We made it! The start of a new year is here!
There’s something about a new year that makes us feel inspired and hopeful. Like we are starting over in a sense. The start of a new year often comes with new promises, new outlooks, and new dreams.
Even more people all over the world are ready to slam the door on 2020 and are hopeful for a new start with positive outcomes for 2021.
One word comes up each year when a year is closing and a new year is on the horizon: resolution. Friends and relatives ask about your new year’s resolutions and tell you about theirs. It’s common to find that a lot of resolutions are the same - get healthy, lose weight, pay off debt, save money, travel more, etc.
So why do the same resolutions end up on your list year after year?
What is a Resolution?
Resolution is to resolve to do something - make a definite, serious decision. What a powerful idea! Making a definite and serious decision to get healthy! Or to pay off debt, or whatever your resolutions might be.
The problem, though isn’t so much that people don’t intend to follow through on their resolutions. They’re often serious about it - that’s why the same resolutions come up every year. “This year for sure I am going to get back on track and get healthy.”
The problem with resolutions - and what works
The problem with resolutions isn’t the resolution itself - people make decisions and get stuck on how to execute them. They forget to make a plan - or don’t know how to make a plan for making it happen.
In fact, the problem with resolutions is that the decision itself doesn’t help them take action.
Instead of resolving the same old things once again in 2021, why not try setting some clear goals and outline the steps needed to reach your goal?
They say about 80% of new year’s resolutions fail by the 2nd week of February.
Six weeks before they fizzle out. No wonder it’s hard to get back at it when you feel like you’ve failed before you even get started.
Building new habits like a healthier lifestyle, improving fitness, changing spending, and saving habits aren’t like flipping a switch. They require dedication and persistence and often major changes and shifts in your day to day behavior. In fact, research says that on average it takes 66 days for a new habit to become automatic.
Goals work because the word goal is associated with action and accountability. Setting goals - measurable goals - and building in some accountability is much more effective and empowering than simply resolving to “get healthy.”
How to set goals that you can achieve in the coming year
The very first step in changing a habit is being aware that you are doing something. Fully aware of the good bad and ugly of your behavior, thoughts, and actions. Being aware of our habits opens our eyes to the truth about what is going on and more importantly, allows us to strategize and anticipate how we will change unwanted behaviors going forward.
For example, if you are trying to eat healthier foods, you can look at a menu ahead of time and find some healthy options before you’re sitting there in front of a bowl of endless chips and salsa.
An effective strategy in goal setting is creating SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Sensitive.
Vague, unrealistic goals are destined to fail because they have no substance. They cause a lot of frustration, guilt, and shame. Nobody has ever shamed themselves into better, healthier habits!
SMART goals can be used for personal, financial, and professional goals.
Let’s break down how to create a goal this way:
What exactly do I want to accomplish?
Less is more here - you want a clear, concise action statement.
How will you know you reached your goal?
This is often the major part left out of vague and lofty new year’s resolutions! Measuring progress is important. You are more likely to achieve something you are actively tracking and measuring.
Once you know how you will measure your progress, break your big goal into smaller chunks with specific dates to reach them. Reward yourself when you reach your milestones.
You want your goal to be something challenging, but also something you can reach. Don’t set goals so small that you stop caring about them. And don’t set goals so huge that there’s no way to achieve them in the time you want to achieve them. Consider your lifestyle, commitments, responsibilities, and resources you have.
Ask yourself: What support am I going to need to achieve this goal?
You may also want to build in some accountability here. An accountability partner, someone to call you and check up on you. Maybe you need to hire someone - a personal trainer, a coach or therapist to help keep you accountable for the goals and habits you want to achieve.
Your goal needs to be something that is relevant and meaningful to you. Don’t set a goal just for the sake of setting a goal. Think about and write down how exactly reaching this goal will benefit you. In other words, what is your “why”? Why do you want to achieve this goal?
Any goal you want to succeed in achieving needs to have a deadline. Period. They can’t just stretch on into infinity. Set a specific date that you will achieve your goal. Also, set specific dates when you will achieve the smaller, chunked milestones you created for your goal.
At each milestone date, evaluate your progress. What went right? What went wrong? What do you need to be able to reach your next milestone by the specified date?
Write it Down
This can’t be emphasized enough. A goal in your mind becomes concrete and tangible when you write it down. It’s almost like putting the words on paper make it concrete. Write out your new SMART goal with all it’s components and put it somewhere visible in your home. Choose a place that you will see it every day. You might put it in multiple places.
When you’re contemplating habits that you want to change and start figuring out what kinds of supports you need, consider working with a therapist who can help you create new healthier habits.
Redeemed Life Counseling can help. Let’s connect! Call or email us today and schedule your first appointment!
940-222-8552 or email email@example.com
Clinical Director and Co-Owner at Redeemed Life Counseling