As the New Year arrives, it is a natural break point and fresh start, the perfect time to make resolutions and goals. The new year often feels like a great opportunity to change bad habits and establish new routines. Changes that will hopefully help us grow psychologically, emotionally, socially, physically, or intellectually. In practice however, resolutions are much easier to make than to keep, and by the end of March, many of us will have abandoned our resolve and settled back into old ways. Consider these tips below to guide you in making realistic resolutions that you will stick with for the long run and actually achieve what you set out to accomplish.
The Golden Rule - Set SMART Goals
You may have come across the concept of SMART goals, but do you always apply the rule in practice? In order for goals to be attainable, they should be SMART:
Your goal must be clear and well defined. Vague or generalized goals are unhelpful because they will not provide sufficient direction.
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Why is this goal important?
- Who is involved?
- Where is it located?
- Which resources or limits are involved?
Include precise amounts, dates, details, so you can measure your degree of success.
- How much?
- How many?
- How will I know when it is accomplished?
Make sure that it will be possible to achieve the goals you set. If you set a goal that you have no hope of achieving, you will only demoralize yourself and erode your confidence. Equally, avoid setting goals that are too easy. Attaining a goal that you do not have to work for may feel anticlimactic and boring. By setting realistic yet challenging goals, ideally you will strike a balance and yield personal satisfaction, which in turn will motivate you to set new future goals with each milestone achievement.
Goals should be relevant to the direction you want your life and career to take. By maintaining relevant goals, you will develop the focus required to succeed and you will obtain what you set out to accomplish.
Goals should have a final deadline. Having a final end point, or working towards a deadline, provides motivation and a sense of urgency to achieve your goal. Once achieved, this is a reason to celebrate your success.
Be Motivated By Your Goal
Motivation is crucial to reaching goals. When you set goals for yourself, make sure that they are important to you, and that you hold value in achieving them. If you have little interest in the outcome, or they are irrelevant to you, the chances of you putting in the work to make them happen are low.
Set fewer goals that relate to the bigger priorities in your life. Without this type of focus, you can end up with far too many smaller goals, resulting in insufficient time to devote to each one. Goal achievement requires commitment. To maximize your likelihood of success, you want to feel a sense of urgency and feel an "I must do this" desire. The absence of this will lead to procrastination to make the goal a reality, resulting in feeling disappointed and frustrated with yourself, both of which are de-motivating. You want to avoid ending up in a place with an "I can't do anything or be successful at anything" frame of mind.
Make Goals Clearly Visible
The physical act of writing down a goal makes it real and tangible. Write down your goals and hang the paper in visible places that you frequently see such as a work pin board, or your refrigerator. There is no excuse for forgetting about it if you are constantly reminded of it. Use strong, powerful words in writing your goals, eg. the word "will" instead of "would like to" or "might."
Make an Action Plan
We often get consumed with an outcome that we forget to plan all of the small steps that are required along the way. By writing out the individual steps, and then crossing each one off as you accomplish it, you will visibly realize that you are making progress towards your ultimate goal. This is especially important if your target is large, demanding, or longer-term.
Goal setting is a long term, ongoing activity, not simply a means to an end. Factor in times during your daily life for reminders to keep you on track, and routinely review your goals and current status. Your end destination may remain quite similar over the long term, but the action plan you set for yourself along the way can change significantly, depending on external circumstances. Make sure the relevance, value, and necessity of your goal remains high.
By clearly defining exactly what you want, and understanding why you want it the first place, your odds of success are considerably increased. Make goals utilizing the tips above and you will achieve what you set out to do! What would you like to accomplish in 2021?