New Year’s resolutions always make me chuckle. How many times have you sat there, drink in hand on the 31st of December and decreed that you’re going to change your life in the next 365 days? Just me? Annually?! How many times, come January 2nd have you broken those promises? Just me, again? Come on now guys, I know you’re fibbing.
The truth is that New Year’s resolutions are notoriously hard to keep. We set them with the best intentions of overhauling ourselves and yet year after year, we find ourselves lacking. You and I are not alone. There’s a whole day for people like us – January 17th – otherwise known as ‘Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day’. Seriously. What if I told you it didn’t have to be that way? What if, with some simple help, you could learn tricks for how to keep to your goals over the next 12 months. Interested? Read on…
Set goals that you WANT to achieve
There’s no point in setting yourself a goal if you’re not motivated to achieve it. It’s all very well saying you want to lose twenty pounds but unless you want to get there and are willing to put in the work then don’t bother. You don’t HAVE to set any resolutions – a far healthier alternative to setting yourself a goal that you’re guaranteed to fail at before you’ve begun. Any new goal is going to push you so unless you’re committed and motivated to get there, you’re going to start to resent putting in the effort. With that in mind, pick a target that you really, really want to get to.
Make your goal SMART
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. What does THAT mean? Rather than saying “I want to be better at blogging” define what that means to you. For example, does that mean you want more people to subscribe? More followers on social media? A goal such as “I want to grow my blog following this year” specifies further what you want to achieve. It’s still a little fuzzy isn’t it? Make your goal SMART; “I want to grow my subscribers list by 10% in the next 12 months”. Finally, something we can work with.
- Specific – your goal should be well defined and easy to understand
- Measurable – how are you going to measure what you’re starting point is and your progress? Define a metric that you can easily get such as twitter followers (for social media) or pounds lost (for weightloss)
- Achievable – aiming to go from 10 followers to 1,000,000 is a great target but pretty hard to make happen. Don’t jump straight in to winning the London marathon. Think about what you genuinely believe you can achieve with a little hard work.
- Realistic – what resources do you have? If you need to invest money in order to achieve your goal and you’re just not in a position to do so then is this the right time for this goal? Take a look at your knowledge, resources and time and make sure you’re not setting yourself something that just isn’t going to happen.
- Time-bound – any goal should include a time limit, otherwise you’re likely to go on for eternity. Again, make sure it’s feasible and one that you can work with realistically alongside your other time commitments.
It sounds like the morning after a heavy night out but chunking up and down is a technique taught by business coaches. Chunking down is the more common of the two – take your big goal i.e. growing social media followers from 1000 to 3000 in twelve months and break it down into manageable chunks. Each chunk can have mini goals of it’s own. For example, the obvious thing to do is to break that 2000 follower gain down into monthly targets. (Top Tip: start with less per month at the start of the year and then increase your figures i.e. +150 the first month, +400 in month twelve, as your ‘savvy’ grows). Breaking big targets into smaller ones makes it feel more manageable and allows you to track your progress as you go. Plus it’s WAY less daunting.
Accountability and reward
When you share a New Year’s resolution with others, you’re making yourself accountable to them. If you’re not prepared to share your goal then be accountable to yourself. Plan in your targets and the tasks you need to do each week to achieve them. Then, tick them off as you go! Reward based schemes tend to work well here for people – use your mini targets to give yourself little treats or perks as you achieve them – invest in some artwork you’ve wanted for a while, have a meal out, celebrate with a bit of me time… If you share your goals with others, make sure they’re going to be happy when you hit your mini targets too. It’ll help keep you motivated and on the road to success.
Your goal should be achievable but only if you push yourself. What’s the point in setting yourself a target that you could achieve with very little work in the first place? The only person you’re kidding there is yourself. Instead, look at what you could achieve without trying. Then look at what your ultimate goal is if you could pick anything. Try to pick a target that’s in the middle. You want to be stretched enough to work for it but not so stretched that you’re NEVER going to achieve it. Getting that balance is one of the key cornerstones of goal setting so don’t be afraid to…
Re-assess your targets periodically
It’s all well and good setting a target at the beginning but what if life gets in the way (you can read about my experiences of that here!)? Even those with the best of intentions can’t help the unforeseen. You are not infallible or a psychic – well, maybe! – you can’t know with complete certainty that there aren’t going to be times when you just can’t get the job done. If you’re behind your target, take a moment to re-assess them. Why haven’t you achieved it? What went wrong? Did you aim too high? Did you over-commit yourself? Then look at whether or not this is likely to be the case going forward. Look at your upcoming smaller goals – are they still realistic? Are they still SMART? There’s no harm in reviewing your goal as you go providing you’re not changing it every five seconds. Give yourself a few weeks to see if it’s something you can recover from and if not, look at what needs to change. Maybe it’s the timescale, maybe it’s the goal itself.
And that’s it! With these easy steps for goal setting, keeping your New Year’s resolutions should be a breeze. Well, not THAT easy but you’ll make it to January 18th at the very least!! What are your favourite tips for keeping to resolutions? How do you set goals? Let me know if you think there are any we’ve missed!
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