Studies have shown that roughly 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February each and every year. In all likelihood, most people who give up on their new aspirations by the second month of the year will blame their lack a willpower. In reality, however, the true culprit could be faulty goal-setting. In this article, we will discuss three tips that can help you set smarter goals for the upcoming year.
#1. Be as specific as possible
The ability to track your progress is critical to self-evaluation and ongoing motivation. Similarly, a clear-cut definition of success and failure is oftentimes an important inspiration on those lazy mornings when you would rather sleep in then work toward your objective. For these reasons, it should be obvious why “getting in shape,” “reading more,” and “advancing professionally” are all terrible new year’s resolutions destined for near-certain abandonment.
Instead, let’s try revising these goals to create better, more specific examples. “Workout a minimum of four times per week and decrease my 5K time to below 20 minutes by this time next year,” could be a great one-two punch for your fitness resolutions. “Reading at least 20 books by the end of the year” and “making 10% more sales” are better examples of reading and professional goals.
#2. Identify your deepest motivations
Professional athletes frequently speak about how a drive to test their own limits, break records, and win championships leads them to spend countless hours training tirelessly. And many smokers describe finally finding the willpower to leave their addiction behind when they consider the possibility of spending extra years with their loved ones or the desire to set a better example for their kids. Regardless of how healthy or unhealthy your lifestyle may be, finding a profound and lasting source of motivation is crucial to making improvements. Spending a bit of quiet time brainstorming about the things that motivate you with a pen and paper can be surprisingly insightful — as can a good, heartfelt conversation with someone you see eye-to-eye with.
#3. Ensure that your goals are realistic
One of the biggest limiting factors for many new year’s goal setters is that their eyes are bigger than their stomachs, so to speak. In the final days of December, it is easy to envision the start of the new year as a totally fresh start that will provide an opportunity for a radically new and improved version of ourselves. As soon as the fireworks begin to fade, however, that overeager appetite for change encounters the reality that January 1st is just another day on the calendar.
In the end, it is infinitely more productive to achieve a couple of small and realistic goals than it is to struggle and beat ourselves up while failing to complete several life-altering goals. So curb your ambition, set your goals ahead of time, and consider carefully what you are capable of accomplishing in the course of this upcoming year.