This is not your typical post about new year's resolutions. And I know you’ve seen a lot of them this week: “Check out the best diet for weight loss. It’s a new year, time for a new you! Try this workout plan and finally lose weight. Join this gym for our super low price.” Every January we’re bombarded with so many messages urging us to change in the new year, but year after year we make the same resolutions, “I want to lose weight, eat healthier, go to the gym everyday.” And year after year, we quit before reaching our goals. We sell ourselves short saying, “It’s a lost cause. This is too hard. I don’t have time for this. I’ll never lose the weight. I can’t do it.”
Why don't we achieve our New Year's Resolutions?
We’re not setting the right goals. We set certain goals because we think we need to make certain changes. Some of the most common new year’s resolutions are about losing weight, eating healthy, and getting more sleep, which are all important. But in focusing on health resolutions, we often lose sight of the other life that might need improvement. To give a few ideas, how healthy is your relationship with social media? Do you feel fulfilled at your current job? What worries keep you awake at night? In setting 2018 goals, we need to assess all the dimensions of wellness that might need changes (mental health, work, relationships, healthy eating, fitness, etc).
We don’t have a plan. We often set goals, but don’t plan how we’re going to achieve them. Without benchmarks or a timeline, you’re goal-setting blindly, which causes many to quit.
We don’t have a support system. Creating a new you this new year isn’t all on you. To continuously work on your goals throughout the year, you need consistent motivation, both internal from a positive mindset and external from a support system. For example, last year, I joined Facebook groups with fellow bloggers encouraging each other in growing their sites. That external support system keeps me motivated to write posts.
We don’t have the right mindset. Often when setting new year’s resolutions, we try to change our actions without changing our hearts. It’s all in the attitude. To achieve your goals, you need a positive mindset. You need to believe you can achieve; this common phrase ties to a concept in communication theory, called self efficacy. Communication theory and psychology explains how self efficacy can motivate someone to action. Psychologist Albert Bandura defines this concept as the degree to which someone believes they have the ability to take action. When someone has high self efficacy, they believe they are capable of taking action and therefore feel more motivated to do so. A positive mindset plays a role in maintaining self efficacy.
5 Steps to Setting Successful Goals
Today, I’m going to share five easy steps to building the motivation and action plan you need to achieve your 2018 goals.
Step 1: Reflect on 2017
Before you get excited planning for the new year, reflect on 2017. Self reflection is key to personal growth and improvement. As an introvert, I do this all the time. Go all the way back from January to December. Write down some of your high points. What did you accomplish? What did you enjoy the most? On the other hand, define some of your low points. How did you respond to these events? How do you feel about those events now looking back? What mistakes did you make in 2017? What did you learn from your mistakes? What projects are you still working on? What can you improve on in the new year?
To make the reflection process more fun, try drawing some of your memories or creating a memory board.
Step 2: Categorize Your 2018 Goals
As mentioned before, many people are so focused on healthy eating and fitness goals that they ignore the other aspects of wellness. Health goals are important, but you should also consider your financial wellness, mental health, and relationship with God. Write your goals in categories to address each of these areas, including:
- Personal Growth/Self-Care
- Passion Project/Hobbies
Need inspiration? Here’s a few of my favorite videos on new year's resolutions
- Lavendaire: 50 New Years Resolutions Ideas
- Muchelle B: 50 New Years Resolution Ideas
- Hannah Ashton: 20 Resolution Ideas for 2018
Step 3: Define Your Why & Prioritize
Under those big goals, write why you want to achieve them. What’s your motivation? How will achieving this goal affect you in the long run? For example, I want to work out four times a week to strengthen my muscles. Defining your why will help you understand the reasons behind why you want achieve these goals. This exercise can be very revealing, in a good and a bad way. Maybe you realize you don’t have the best intentions. For example, perhaps you want to go to the gym everyday to change your appearance because you don’t like what you see in the mirror. Consider adding a mental health goal to explore this issue more.
Looking at this many goals may be overwhelming. Now it’s time to prioritize. Based on your why, which of these six goals are most important to you? Which are easiest to start first? Star one to three goals to be your priorities.
Step 4: Break your goals into action plans
This is where the planning comes in. From your general goals, write smaller, more specific steps to reach your top three priority goals. Make these steps S.M.A.R.T: specific, measurable, attainable, results-focused, and time sensitive. For instance, say your health goal is to sleep more.
- Specific - What do you specifically want to do? If your general goal is to sleep more, determine how many hours you want to sleep. Perhaps you want to go to bed by 10 p.m. and wake up by 7 a.m.
- Measurable - How will you measure your progress on this goal? You could log you sleep with an app.
- Achievable - How can you realistically achieve this goal? You could start a night routine, scheduling out everything from dinner to getting in bed.
- Results-Focused - What is your desired outcome? You want to feel more rested in the morning.
- Time sensitive - When do you want to achieve this goal? Perhaps you want to get eight hours of sleep consistently by the end of the month.
Step 5: Do a quarterly check-in
It’s so easy to set goals and forget about them, so set aside time at the end of every month or season to reassess your goals. Schedule a block of time in your calendar to be alone, and reflect with the following questions:
- What have I accomplished toward this goal?
- What do I still need to do to finish this goal?
- Are the steps I’m taking to achieve this goal hurting or helping me?
- Is this goal still beneficial for me?
Your goals can evolve as your circumstances change. For instance, say your goal is to implement weekly self care by attending a yoga class, but halfway through the year, you can no longer afford the classes. Instead of giving up on this goal, find more cost-effective way to practice self care.
Start the 5 Steps to Successful Goal-Setting TODAY with my FREE worksheet!
Why Goal-Setting Might Not Be For You - An Alternative
Do you have trouble keeping new year’s resolutions? Hint, we all do. Sometimes I set unrealistic goals, break my back trying to reach them, and then I beat myself for failing. If you think goal setting will harm your self esteem or put too much pressure on you, break your goals into small commitments. You can pledge to making one small change each month. For example, commit to drinking a three glasses of water by noon for January, writing a to-do list every morning for February, and so on.
Following my five step goal-setting process will help you set comprehensive goals for the new year and successfully achieve them. I’m praying productivity and motivation over each of you in this coming year. What are your 2018 goals? Share one of yours below and inspire others!