3 . . . 2 . . . wait, I’m not ready.
Every year starts with that shiny new midnight–a full 60 seconds of hope that in the next 365 days, you’ll be able to change everything you don’t like about your life. The problem is that this magical minute of midnight is followed almost immediately by the first week of January. If you’re like me (or a whole lot of other people on the planet) I always begin to resent the version of myself that set these lofty goals for me at 11:59 p.m. What did 2017 Me know about 2018 Me when she made those resolutions? Nothing! And that’s the beginning of the end of my progress.
But it’s not just me. More than 50% of people make New Year’s Resolutions and of those, a measly 8% keep it. Are we merely powerless to our own whims, destined to a life without moving forward? Or is it just a matter of how we approach our goals that sets us up for failure from the beginning?
Good news: it’s the latter. We are capable of much more than just two weeks of progress. And it’s not as simple as the old adage, It takes 21 days to form a habit. Here are some real, concrete ways to change the way you set goals that will help you achieve them.
Know the difference between a goal and a metric.
This is the first fatal mistake that we make with any resolution. It’s the same as the difference between what your product is (a toy) and what you’re selling (joy, fun, memories). Losing ten pounds isn’t a goal–it’s a way to measure success on what it is you really want. Do you want to get up the steps with ease? Live longer? Fit into a smaller pant size? These are goals. The method you use to get there–that’s a metric. Which leads us to concrete step #2:
Be as specific as possible.
When it comes to your metrics, clearly define what victory looks like. If you say, “Lose weight,” then dropping anywhere from one to one hundred pounds is a victory–and those kinds of margins don’t allow us to flourish when it comes to resolutions. Try something like “Lose 10 pounds” or an even more specific “Eat one serving of fruits and veggies at every meal,” which is measurable will help you achieve the ultimate goal of living longer or a smaller pant size–whatever it is.
Make your reasons your own.
There’s an old saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” If you don’t have your own reasons for doing something, you’re destined to fail. Do you want to buy a home because the idea of home ownership thrills you, or because all of your friends own a home? Do you want to open your own business because you truly believe in your ideas, or because it seems like the trendy move in 2018?
Find a balance of optimistic and realistic.
If you’re starting at zero, getting to 100 by January 30 is unreasonable. Remember, it’s not new month resolution–it’s new year. You have all year to accomplish your goals so set optimistic milestones with a healthy dose of reality. Here’s a big tip: you’re not going to wake up a different person on January 1. So if you spent the last 365 with terrible spending habits, you aren’t suddenly going to be a person who is financially responsible. Be optimistic that you can make a change but realistic that it’s going to take a while and you will mess up. That’s okay–you’re playing the long game.
Keeping in mind that you have all of 2018, set up checkpoints to make sure what you’re doing is working. Come March 31, plan to look at how your lifestyle changes (whatever it is) has been going. Is there something you can add or remove to make you more successful in the next quarter?
Okay, now you’re armed with everything you need to tackle 2018. Go get it done!
What are some of your tried and true methods when it comes to setting goals? Leave them in the comments.