Top 5 Goal-Setting Tips

Happy New Year! Did you make a New Year’s resolution? If so, you’re not alone. 45% of Americans make one or more resolutions to achieve this year.

While you may be in good company, the bad new is that 1/3 of us give up on our resolutions before the end of January, according to Forbes. That means just 8% of people who make resolutions actually keep them!

So what do these 8% know about goal-setting that the rest of us don’t? Read on to find out.

1. Choose Simplicity.

Many of us make lofty New Year’s resolutions that require large-scale professional or personal makeovers. Losing 30 pounds or getting out of debt may sound nice, but the effort required to achieve such goals can be psychologically overwhelming.

Since most of us are awash with mundane, but competing priorities, large bucket lists simply won’t happen.

Instead, keep your New Year’s Resolution small and attainable if you really want to keep it. One step at a time will go farther than should you try to run a Spartan Ultra Beast or ultramarathon right out of the gate.

For example, you may really want to hit the gym in 2017, but your work schedule doesn’t permit early morning or evening workout time.  Change your goal to something more manageable like taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Over time, these small steps will lead to bigger changes.

2. Be specific.

“Losing weight” may seem like a good resolution to have (after all, we’ve just come from 2 months of holiday food, fun, and family that often leads to overeating and drinking). But, without specifics, this goal is vague.

Instead of saying you will lose weight, say instead that you will abstain from eating candy or soda or ice-cream for 4, 6, or 8 weeks. Likewise, instead of saying you will go to the gym in 2017, say that you will go to the gym every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.

3. Measure it.

Once you’ve made your specific goal, you’ll be more successful in achieving it if you can measure it. That is, a measured goal is an achievable goal.

There are many apps you can use, such as iDoneThis, that electronically track your progress. Or, you can go old school and follow in Jerry Seinfeld’s footsteps by keeping a physical calendar and checking off each day that you complete your daily goal. Keep doing this every day, and you’ll soon have a chain of days you’ve checked off. The longer the chain, the harder it is to break.

4. Believe it.

There is power in positive thinking (at least this is what I keep telling myself), but more importantly, there is power in believing you have strong willpower. Typically, when we fail at something we blame our lack of willpower or lack of self-determination. (This is the “if only I had tried harder” line of thought.) However, willpower is not inherent—it can be increased, changed, strengthened simply by believing ourselves to be strong enough to pass on dessert, to hit the gym 3 nights a week, to run a 15k, or to get to bed by 9 pm each night.

Believe it will be so, and it will be. (I know this idea sounds like rainbows and butterflies, but there are actual psychological studies that support it. Check out this one from Stanford University regarding willpower and the consumption of glucose: It’s a little dry, so to summarise: Those who thought of themselves as having high willpower exhibited higher levels of self-control over those who believed they had limited willpower.)

5. Share it.

There’s a reason for accountability partners in gyms. Accountability keeps you honest. It’s hard to be honest with your goals if you don’t tell anyone.

So, in order to stay accountable, you have to share the love. Tell your friends what your goals are. Mention them at work. Post them on your facebook page. Post them on someone else’s facebook page. (Not sure whose? Use ours, @kc94002—we’re happy to keep your feet to the fire.) The more people you tell, the more people you’ll have to share your struggles and successes with, making change much less intimidating.

But what if you fail?

Remember, it’s a New Year’s Resolution, not the end of the world. Don’t look back—you’re not headed that way. Set a new start date, adjust your goal to something simpler, maybe ask for help, and boldly and bravely take your new, first step.

Recommended Posts