How do you set yourself up to succeed when it comes to goals and resolutions?
If you've ever made and then broken a new year resolution (who hasn't?) you know how difficult changing a behavior is or even making time for something enjoyable for yourself. Studies show more than 50% of us fail at our resolutions before the end of January.
While there is no single solution that works for everyone having a clear, actionable goal and plan is crucial. According to this 2020 study, approach-oriented goals are more successful than avoidance-oriented goals. While giving things up is less successful than adding a goal, both are achievable with the right plan.
Define our goal
Resolution: This is the year I'm going to learn to waterpaint.
Good goal, but vague. The goal is a good intention but needs an actionable plan. Without it, the goal can fall by the wayside. Let's set ourselves up for success!
I'm going to learn to paint with watercolor this year
I will sign up for a once a week class by Jan 15.
I will purchase my supplies within 1 week of signing up for my class.
I will set aside 30 minutes, 3 times a week to paint.
5 ways we can make our goals a reality
Whatever our goal is, having a realistic plan is the only way to achieve our goal. Writing our goals/resolutions down also helps create a vision in our minds and the goal feels tangible.
1. What's the motivation?
Decide what our motivation is --If our goal is weight loss, do we just want to feel better in our clothes--fitting into those super cute jeans we haven't worn in a couple years? Perhaps we have a health challenge that's getting worse with the extra weight we're carrying. Determining our motivation and remembering it when we feel like caving, can keep us aiming for our goal.
2. What's the plan?
It's not enough to say, I'm going to eat healthier and exercise more. Writing our plan down and how we'll go about it can give us direction. I like to share my plan with someone else. It keeps me accountable.
Make your plan realistic too. Don't start off with, "I'm going to exercise 2 hours a day, 5 times a week." Start off slowly, and work up.
3. What do we need to change or get rid of that holds us back from achieving our goals?
If for example, if your goal is to exercise more, things that get in the way of exercise, such as time on devices can keep us from getting outside and walking or going to the gym? Distraction is a goalcrusher.
Do you tell yourself, "I can't fit exercise into my schedule?" I already get up at 6:00 am and work until 6:00 pm.
Yes, that's a challenging schedule. Acknowledge the challenge.
Don't set the bar too high..at first. Telling yourself you'll walk every morning, do pushups every night, cut out sugar, no alcohol, etc.
If your definition of success is too rigid, it will be hard to maintain. Set goals you think you can achieve and then modify them as you understand what you're capable of.
It's about being real with yourself and making a achievable plan. Don't set yourself up to fail by being unrealistic.
4. Enlist Help!
Enlisting the help of others is a great way to help us achieve our goals. Joining a group of like-minded people can be inspiring and encouraging.
Being accountable is one of the best ways to succeed with our goals. It's as easy as telling your best friend, "I've decided to take up water color painting this year." Ask me if I'm painting in 2 months.
Set yourself up for success at achieving your goals/resolutions and enlist your friends help, making them a part of your success.
5. Reward yourself
It's important to reward yourself after completing a goal. Why? By rewarding yourself, your brain signals positive emotions, leading you to realize your efforts result in a positive reward. By doing this regularly, your brain begins to associate pleasure to success in achieving your goals/resolutions.
There are two types of time: Dead time — where we are just waiting, waiting for another time to succeed in the goals/resolutions we say we desire-- and Alive time --where we are learning and active and doing whatever it takes to reach our declared goals.
Which do you choose?