Happy New Year’s Eve! I can’t believe 2018 has come to an end. It’s that time when everyone is reflecting back on their years and planning for the next. It’s the time when people set resolutions that they will keep for approximately two weeks. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Let’s plan for a 2019 where we set amazing goals and actually achieve them! Are you in?
I have a journal that I use so sporadically that it dates all the way back to 2013. One thing I do usually always write in it are my goals for the year. And you know what? Most of those goals are pretty similar year to year.
I think a lot of us do this. We set goals or resolutions at the beginning of each year and only stick with them for a short time. I think there are a couple of reasons for this: one, we aren’t fully invested in the goal, and two, the goals aren’t SMART.
Before we get into how to properly set goals, I want to share one important thing. You don’t have to only set goals at the new year. I think there is a misconception that you can only set goals at the beginning of something: the beginning of a year, a month, a week. If you want to start working on a goal on April 25th, start then. If it’s next Friday, cool. Start whenever you want. You’re the only one who knows when you are truly ready to start making a change.
As I mentioned I think there are two important components to setting a goal you will actually achieve: that you are fully committed to the change and that you’ve made your goal SMART. Let’s explore these.
No matter what type of goal you set, it’s going to involve change. Most humans don’t like change. There is a reason the term “creature of habit” exists. We like predictable. We like having a routine and knowing what our next step is. Trying to change part of our life, even in a positive way, is going to cause some natural distress.
I’m going to use the goal of losing weight as an example because it’s such a common New Year’s resolution.
Losing weight takes a lot of commitment and a lot of changes. You really do have to change your entire lifestyle to make it happen. You’ll have to eat differently, maybe put more time into shopping for and preparing food, and you’ll need to move your body more. If you aren’t 100% committed you’ll either give up quickly or only half-heartedly stick to the goal leading to minimal, if any, results.
Even a smaller goal than weight loss, say waking up 30 minutes earlier so you can slow down and enjoy your morning routine takes change. You have to commit to waking up earlier which means you’ll probably have to go to bed a little earlier. You’ll have to fight through that initial urge to sleep for five more minutes. Even though it’s not a huge change (30 minutes) that initial moment is what will dictate everything. So are you prepared to battle your sleepy, comfy self?
So think about your goals. Are they something you feel like you can fully commit to and deal with the inevitable changes involved? If not, it may not be that this is the wrong goal for you, it just may be too big or not SMART. See if there’s a way to break down the goal and read on to see how to set a SMART goal.
The SMART in a SMART goal stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time bound.
A lot of people set goals that are vague and don’t have any kind of plan. I’ve been guilty of it, and I kept setting the same goals for years wondering why I never achieved them!
So let’s again take the ever popular New Years resolution of wanting to lose weight.
Is it specific? Just saying I want to lose weight this year isn’t. How much weight do you need to lose? Do you actually need to lose weight or do you just need to feel healthier by eating healthy meals and exercising? By saying I want to lose the five pounds I gained over the holidays or I need to lose 50 pounds you are making a more specific goals.
Is it measurable? Probably. Weight is quantifiable. Again you need to have a specific amount you are looking for. If you’re goal doesn’t involve numbers that’s okay. There’s still probably a way you can add a measurement to the goal. Analyze the goal, and if you still can’t come up with a way to measure it, you can always ask me!
Is it attainable? Maybe. Losing five pounds you gained over the holidays? Sure. Losing 50-100 pounds? Yeah but you’ve got to be committed. What’s something you can actually achieve? Don’t make it too easy but make sure it’s reasonable.
Is it relevant? If your doctor has told you if you don’t lose weight you’ll be on the fast track to heart disease or diabetes, then yeah. If you feel a little fluffy after the holidays, probably not. In reality a little bit of holiday weight will probably come off when you go back to your normal eating and exercise habits so this probably isn’t going to be a goal you are actively trying to achieve. Make sure the goal actually pertains to your lifestyle.
Is it time bound? By making a goal for a year it is time bound, but a year is a long time and can feel pretty overwhelming. Your best bet is to break down your goals into smaller pieces. So you want to lose 50 pounds. How much is reasonable for you each month? 4 or 5 pounds? Having these smaller time frames to check in on will make sure you’re actually committed to your goal and will help you see progress or where you need to make changes.
I mentioned that for years I set some of the same goals over and over. One of those goals that dates all the way back to when I finished school, was finding a job I truly enjoyed. For years that was all the goal was. I didn’t specify what kind of job I wanted, the location, the hours, anything. So for years I was unhappy in my jobs.
Eventually I did get a little more specific. One thing I knew I wanted was to work a more standard Monday through Friday job. I actually had never had this, even when I was working jobs that required my degree. The last job I had like this involved a lot of weekend work and crazy shifts that would be either getting to work as early as 6 a.m. or staying as late as 10:30 p.m.
So I committed to only applying for jobs that were within normal working hours, and I ended up landing one of those jobs. I specified one little thing. Imagine what can happen if you get serious about all the SMART steps.
So what’s your main goal for 2019? Take some time to fully analyze the goal. Can you commit to the change and the work you’ll need to put into it? Make it as specific as possible. Make sure there’s something you can measure, so instead of “I want to grow my blog” make it “I want to grow my blog by an additional 500 page views each month”. Can you attain it? Make sure it’s a challenge but not impossible. Is it relevant to you and your lifestyle? And finally set your timeframe. It doesn’t have to be the entire year, and I think it’s more reasonable to break things into smaller timeframes.
In a few days I’ll be sharing some of my goals for the year. I hope this can be further example on how to set your goals, and maybe we can even be accountability for each other.
Have a wonderful, safe, happy New Year! And if you’re reading this later in 2019 (or beyond) have a wonderful day!
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