‘How to set new year goals, and accomplish them!’
A few days into the start of this new year I asked a friend if she had made any new year resolutions.
Her response was to laugh and say that she had given up with that nonsense as she never stuck by them and usually forgot about the goals after just a few weeks. If this is sounding familiar to you, then you’re definitely not alone in finding it almost impossible to stick by the well-intentioned goals you set yourself for the year.
So, does that mean we should give up making goals for the year completely? Despite the many failed new year’s resolutions people make, I still believe that the new year is a great time to reflect on our past progress and set ourselves goals and direction for our future. By following a few easy steps we can give ourselves the best change of setting goals that we can be successful in achieving.
When setting goals for yourself think about these factors:
1. What is important to you right now. Think about your interests and make sure that your goal is something that you are going to be passionate about and want to work towards. Many people think about goals relating to their fitness, work, or study (things which we usually find boring or challenging), but new year goals can be about anything including our leisure activities, friendships, or mental health. Think about things that are going to steer your life towards your values, such as spending time in nature, catching up with old friends, practicing mindfulness, or learning a new skill you’ve wanted to try.
2. Be realistic. Setting myself a goal of running a marathon if I’m not a runner at all is going to be asking for disappointment and failure. If the goals we set ourselves our too far of reach we quickly get fed up when it becomes apparent that we aren’t making any progress at all towards the finish line. Start with small and realistic goals – you can always make new ones as you tick goals off or if they become too easy!
3. Break down a large goal into smaller measurable steps. This one can be trickier than it seems initially – for example, if my goal is to learn a new language, how can I break this down? Think about the steps you may require (e.g. signing up for a language class, finding someone who speaks the language to practice talking to, reading some books or watching movies in the language) and set these individual steps as goals for yourself.
Ensuring that these steps are measurable will help you to know when you’ve accomplished them.
After you’ve set yourself some realistic goals that you’re excited to start working towards, here are some tips to help you get there:
1. Write your goals down somewhere you can see them. This one doesn’t take a genius to figure out, keeping our goals in sight will help to keep them in mind. If you’re someone who uses a wall calendar this can be a great place to write your goals. Otherwise get creative and leave yourself little post-it notes in places you look often.
2. Get a friend, partner, or colleague involved. Finding someone to work on your goal with you will make it much easier to stay motivated and gives you a buddy to help keep yourself accountable. Not to mention it makes it much more fun when we have good company!
3. Create a habit out of your new goal. Working things into our daily routine is the best way to make sure we do them. Start slowly and work to weave your new goal into the things you already do. For example, if your goal is to spend more quality time with your partner then arrange to have a date night once a week with no phones allowed, if your goal is to begin meditating then dedicate a regular time in the day that fits in with your current routine.
4. Check in and review your goals. Set a date that you will check back in with the goals you made and review how you’re going in your progress. If you haven’t come as far as you’d like (or you’ve completely forgotten about some!) that’s okay and remember to be aware of any self-criticism that may come up. Use this is as an opportunity to check in with how realistic and achievable your goals were and make adjustments if need be.
So that’s how you set goals and make them achievable … Good luck with 2021.
Emily Hinton – Psychologist