Have you ever set a goal, perhaps a New Year’s resolution, and been disappointed to realize later that you didn’t meet it? Of course, we all have. (Anyone who says they haven’t is either lying, or they just don’t set goals.) In fact, 40 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but only 8 percent actually meet them. Yikes. Set yourself up for success in 2018 by following these guidelines to create and keep fantastic goals.
While it may feel great to set really lofty goals for yourself, most of the time you’ll end up just setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. You’ll be much more successful if you set reasonable goals that you’re fairly confident you’ll meet. A smaller, more attainable goal will seem less daunting, making it easier to get started and much easier to be successful. Meeting the goals that you set increases your confidence, and when you’re more confident, you’re more likely to be successful!
Setting all-or-nothing goals is a recipe for disaster. Think about the number of people you know who have entirely given up sweets. How many of them were back to eating pumpkin pie and cookies this holiday season? They likely slipped up once or twice, got discouraged, and then fell off the wagon. Don’t fall into this trap! If you give yourself some wiggle room, you’ll get less discouraged and be more likely to keep on truckin’. Try not to use absolutes - tell yourself you’ll do more or less of something, rather than you’ll always or never do it. On the days that you fail, be kind to yourself. No one is perfect all the time, so brush it off and set out to do better tomorrow!
Take some time to sit down and think about the steps you’ll need to go through to accomplish your goals. Want to try a new fitness class? Find the class times now and put them on your calendar. If you need to purchase anything to complete your goal, go ahead and buy it if you can. If you can’t, create a line item in your budget for it and start saving up now so you’ll be ready as soon as possible. Think about the physical space where you’ll work toward this goal. Even if you can do it anywhere, having a dedicated space to work on it will make it part of your routine and make you more likely to stick to it.
With billions of people in the world, it’s unlikely you’re the only one who set this kind of goal. Find people who have made similar goals, whether it’s colleagues, a friend or two, or even a Facebook group of people with similar interests. Sharing your small, daily achievements with each other will inspire all of you to keep going. Feeling like you have a sense of community to cheer you on when you succeed, and pick you back up when you fail, can make a huge difference.
Decide on an interval to check-in with yourself on your goal. Whether it’s daily, weekly, or monthly is up to you, but put it on your calendar or set a reminder on your phone. During each check-in, ask yourself what you’ve accomplished, what you’ve struggled with, what you’ve learned, and what you’re planning to do between now and the next check-in. It may help to keep a journal of notes from all of your check-ins so you can track your progress over time.
There are going to be days when it gets really difficult. If it was easy you would have done it already! Mentally preparing for hard days makes them much easier to handle when those days come. Make a mental note of people you can reach out to when it gets tough, and give yourself permission to acknowledge these hard emotions and seek encouragement from those people you can count on. Practice good self-care on these hard days by being kind to yourself.
Give yourself permission to be proud, even for the small successes, on the way to your goal. If you’re trying to run a marathon, celebrate every run you go on, no matter how good or bad it was. The fact that you’re trying means you’re doing pretty great. We often don’t let ourselves feel proud until we’ve accomplished the goal, but the small amounts of progress along the way are where the magic really happens.
Meeting your goals isn’t always about shooting for the stars and being blindly optimistic. By setting reasonable goals and realistically planning for the journey towards them, you are more likely to find yourself among that exclusive club of those who meet their goals.