So, how’s your New Year’s resolution going? It’s hard not to fall victim to the “new year, new me,” mantra, and while many of us launch into the new year with good intentions, 92 per cent of New Year’s goals actually fail by January 15th (so you’ve still got a few days to kid yourself). Why is failure so common? If you ask me, I think so many of us fail at our resolutions is because we’re not picking the right goals. When we try to do things we’re not really inspired about working toward, cause anxiety or make us feel bad about ourselves, we set ourselves up for failure. So here are some ideas for goal setting in a way that sets you up for success.
Pick the right goal
Role models are great. They’re helpful, we need them. They give us “references” to work toward modeling in our own behaviour. But they’re not the be-all-end-all when it comes to fashioning — and living — our own lives. A good goal doesn’t come from somewhere outside us, (it’s not something we “should” do), it’s one that feels right for us. Like it wants to happen. Choose a goal that honours your individuality.
Be very specific about your desired outcome
How will you know you’re “done?” What’s the specific end goal you want to achieve? We might say, “I want to buy a house. I want a better job. I want to be happier, I want to be healthy…” Surely, these are good starting points, but these aren’t goals, they’re desires. How do you transition from a desire to a goal? Make it specific. Where is it you want to live? What does your desired house look like? What kind of property does it have? How much money do you need to save to get there? Know your desired end result, and make your destination clear in your mind.
Make a positive goal
Your goal might be to “lose 10 pounds” but framing it in a more positive way is one way to support yourself in actually doing it. So, losing 10 pounds might look like gaining more energy. Stop shopping compulsively might look more like saving $100 on every paychequ. Making positive goals helps the process more enjoyable and doable, and eliminates feelings of shame, deprivation and, ultimately, self-sabotage.
Be realistic about the consequences
All choices have consequences — both good and bad. The trick is to get real about those consequences before you commit. The very wise Liz Gilbert says, “every single pursuit—no matter how wonderful and exciting and glamorous it may initially seem—comes with its own brand of shit sandwich, its own lousy side effects…. You just have to decide what sort of suckage you’re willing to deal with. So the question is not so much “What are you passionate about?” The question is “What are you passionate enough about that you can endure the most disagreeable aspects of the work?” Talk to people who have what you’re going for and get clear on the consequences.
Check your ego
Come January we have perspective on the entire year past and we have a much deeper understanding of what and where it all went wrong. Mistakes are no longer fresh. We can be more objective now in extracting the lessons and seeing the growth opportunity in them. What did you think you wanted that you discovered you really don’t? Set new goals that are made with eyes wide open — pick one that’s aligned with a more-right path.
Make accountability part of your plan
No matter how motivated and on-the-ball you are, you need a sustainable plan to keep you on track and moving forward in the right direction — and accountability has to be part of it. Talking about what you’re up to makes it “more real” and it also helps keeps your expectations in check.
For more wisdom on the topic of accomplishing goals and feeling like an empowered badass as you do it: Here’s a motivational pep talk.