Why you need goals rather than resolutions this year
By: Claire, redwigwam
Ah! January! The great reset. The time we make a list of resolutions. Things we’re going to change to make better versions of ourselves for the new year.
And we go big on this.
Make sweeping statements and drastic changes to our lives. “New year, new me.”
2023 is going to be MY YEAR.
Yet by the third week in January, when the end of the month, and payday still seems a million years away, for one reason or another, it goes to pot.
One drink won’t hurt.
I can’t be bothered to go to the gym today.
I just really want some comfort food.
That top is a real bargain.
And then the resolution slips. Our newly formed habit stops being a habit. And we give up.
But what if there was another way?
This year, think GOALS rather than RESOLUTIONS.
You’ll be surprised how a simple mind shift change can make a huge difference to the outcomes.
So, first things first. What’s the difference?
A resolution is a sweeping statement. A firm decision to do (or not do) something. But they don’t tend to be specific. Maybe your resolution is to save money. A wide statement of what you want to change, but no guidance on how you’re going to achieve it. Or what the outcome will be. So, you don’t then know when you’ve achieved it.
A goal is much more specific. You set the statement of what you want to achieve, the steps you need to take to achieve it and when you want to achieve it by.
So, for example, this might look like ‘I will save £50 a month, for the next 6 months to take a trip to see my friend in July’.
A clear objective and map of how you are going to do it.
It’s all in the planning
Goal setting is a little more complicated because it requires planning. Resolutions often fail because you don’t just wake up and change your life. It’s not sustainable long-term.
But with goals, we’d like fewer sweeping statements and more achievable outcomes.
So, take some time to plan – starting with the results you want to see from your goals.
- Is this something you truly want?
- Is it important enough to dedicate time and effort?
If the answer to either of these is no, then rethink as it may not be worth perusing.
Use these questions to determine the goals which are most important to you right now and focus on them.
Which leads on nicely to the next point….
Set up to 3 goals. And no more!
To really set yourself up for success, aim for 3 goals at most. (And some people would say that’s too many – focus on only one goal at a time).
The thing is, for most of us, there’s no point in trying to change everything at once.
The success of achieving your goals depends on you focusing on just a few things at a time. Limit the number of things you are trying to achieve and spend all your time and energy on the goals that really matter to you.
And who said all goals have to start in January anyway?
Once you are in the habit of goal setting, you’ll find it becomes an ongoing and evolving process, and new goals can be added at any time.
You may be familiar with SMART goals from your workplace or study. And that’s because it is a principle which works for achieving success.
If you’re not familiar with the acronym – or need a reminder – SMART goals are:
Specific (Determine what you want. What needs to be accomplished? What steps do I need to take to achieve it?)
Measurable (What does success look like? How will you know when you’ve achieved your goal?)
Achievable (Is this something you can reasonably accomplish?)
Relevant (Why are you setting the goal?)
Time-bound (When do you want to achieve the goal by? Set a deadline, and a schedule to meet it)
Think about these areas when you are planning and setting your goals. Ensuring you meet all five points will set you up for success.
Review your progress
You’ve probably heard the statement that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. So, in theory, if you start going to the gym at the start of January and keep it up for 3 weeks, you’ll just keep going as a new habit will have been formed.
But it still slips. Partly because life gets in the way as our social lives start getting busier once the drudgery of January is over, and partly because you didn’t have a goal in your gym going.
But the thing with a goal is you’ve already set out what you want to achieve – and the steps you’re going to take to get there.
So, review your progress.
This could be daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on what the goal is. (Don’t fall into the habit of reviewing too regularly if you won’t see progress as this will also set you up for failure).
Focus on what you have achieved. It’s so important to remember where you have come from – even if the end point still seems miles away.
If possible, it’s also a good idea to have your goals written out somewhere you can see them – a visual reminder will help you stick to them.
Sometimes you must go backwards to move forwards
Yep. You read it right. Failure is OK.
What is important is not giving up altogether. Just because you didn’t save all the money you wanted to in January doesn’t mean you give up on the rest of the year as a bad job.
Look at where you went wrong.
Maybe your goal wasn’t as SMART as it could have been. Adjust the target for the next month if you need to.
But keep going.
What you should do is learn from where it went wrong – and make sure you don’t make the same mistake again.
Make sure your goals bring you joy. These are incredibly important for your happiness and well-being.
If you can, focus on getting a balance between different areas of your life.
And this makes you much more likely to succeed.
All of this takes some time.
So it’s OK if it doesn’t start on 1st January. Take some time to reflect and think about what you really want to achieve – because when you’re focusing on changing something which REALLY matters to you – you are way more likely to succeed.
Happy goal setting!