It may seem like everyone you know has at least one New Year’s resolution in mind, but did you know that only 8 percent of us are actually going to follow through with them? Whether our initial goals were too ambitious or we were knocked off track by an instance of failure, many of us will return to our old ways in a matter of weeks, if not days.
Here are some ways you can change that.
- Make Sure Your Goals Are SMART
SMART stands for “Specific,” “Measurable,” “Achievable,” “Relevant,” and “Time-Bound,” which is exactly how all of your resolutions should be. Let’s break that down.
Specific: Throwing out a general goal without any real guidelines is a recipe for disaster. Make sure you’re answering a central question—”why am I doing this?” So, instead of saying you “want to eat healthy” in the new year, you might say “I want to eat healthy in a way that increases my iron intake.” Now your goal is clearer, and you know exactly why you’re pursuing it.
Measurable: You should be able to track your progress towards your goal. For example, if your goal is to gain an academic degree, you can measure it in how many courses you have completed.
Achievable: If your goal isn’t realistic, you’re setting yourself up for failure. If your resolution is to exercise every day, but you don’t realistically have the time or energy to do so, consider making your goal more achievable by aiming to exercise three times a week, or whatever works for you.
Relevant: A relevant goal is one that’s important to you, that will increase your happiness or sense of fulfillment. For example, it might be a passion project of yours to learn the language your grandmother spoke, or to take improv classes.
Time-Bound: Have a target date by which to complete your goal. This way you can’t keep putting it off.
- Write Them Down
Writing down your goals not only reinforces them, but also makes them less abstract. Your resolution is no longer just an idea bouncing around in your head, but a concrete goal that you’ve identified and decided on.
We recommend that once you’ve written down your goal, you post it both somewhere you’ll see it regularly and somewhere that it’s relevant. If your goal is related to work, hang it in your cubicle! If you’re trying to get more sleep, place the note on your bedside table.
Some people like to get extra creative and design cool goal posters and/or trackers. Get inspired by their examples here.
- Be Held Accountable
You don’t have to go at this alone. Share your goal with a loved one so that they can check in on you and remind you why your resolution is important.
You can even work alongside a career counselor, personal trainer, or therapist who has experience getting people to their personal finish lines. This way, the pressure won’t all be on you, and if you lose track of your plan when life gets busy, someone else can help you get back in the game.
- Schedule Periodic Check-Ins/Tiers of Completion
Fully accomplishing your goal isn’t the only important part of the journey. You also deserve recognition for the steps you take along the way.
Plot different “tiers” of your goal, and when you want to reach each one. If your goal is to meditate for ten minutes every day, your initial “tiers” may include “meditating four days a week” by Week 3 or “meditating for five minutes each day” by Week 5. Reward yourself as you accomplish these “mini goals” along the way.
What’s your resolution, and which strategies have worked for you? We’d love to hear your thoughts on twitter! Meanwhile, if you’d like further advice or professional guidance when it comes to pursuing your goals, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best of luck!