New Year’s Resolutions are so 2019, set GOALS instead
“New Year’s Resolutions are so 2019, set GOALS instead”: I read this recently, and initially it didn’t make sense to me. Aren’t resolutions and goals the same thing? My goal is to exercise more in 2020, isn’t it? No, that’s a resolution…
And Resolutions SUCK!
Who actually sticks to their resolutions past January? Not many people, let’s be honest. There’s a reason so many gyms offer huge discounts in January – people sign up feeling all “new year, new me” and then the gym rakes in the membership money while people who are not in the habit of going to the gym… don’t go to the gym.
Make GOALS Instead
It wasn’t until I sat down to figure out what I want to achieve this year that I really understood what this means. Anyone will tell you that I’m a highly organised person (just ask Amy!) but I’m not a magician. I still struggle to achieve my goals just like the next person. There are loads of things that have been on my mind for ages, years even, that I wanted to do but never got around to. It seems we’re often better at working on other people’s dreams.
Going into 2020, I want to actually achieve some of these things. So I sat down with a notebook and some glitter gel pens (making it pretty makes it fun) and wrote down a list of resolutions and goals, and suddenly I understood the difference:
Resolution: Get better at ukulele
Goal: Go busking at least once
How can you achieve something if you don’t know when you’ve achieved it?
Resolutions are a recipe for failure because while you can see solid evidence that you’re NOT achieving it, there’s no end goal to work towards and no affirmation that you have achieved something.
Set REALISTIC Goals
It’s not enough to just list out all your goals for the year, however. That’s a good start, definitely a necessary step, but what if your brainstorming session is so fruitful that your list is REALLY long? Many people decide they want to do A, B and C all the way through to X, Y and Z, get excited, try to cram it all in at once, and then fall on their faces.
You have the WHOLE YEAR to complete this list of goals. You don’t have to achieve everything by January 31st. Once you have your goals listed, make a really simple yearly calendar – just the name of each month with a few lines underneath. Then go through your list of goals and fit them in realistically across the year.
Set A Realistic AMOUNT Of Goals
If your list gets a bit long, try minimising it, or give each goal a priority. Only top priorities make the final cut. If you find you’re accomplishing everything you set out to do, that’s great! Add in some of your reserve goals. But don’t set yourself up for disappointment by putting unrealistic expectations on yourself.
There are only 12 months in the year. As your goals will probably take a minimum of one month each to achieve, you really shouldn’t be setting more than 12 “big picture” goals for the year initially. Which brings us to the next point…
When I made my list, it was clear that some things would take a lot longer to achieve than others. It all comes down to what you actually need to do in order to achieve the goal. Some goals require one month of practice/work, others 3 months, 6 months or even more!
1 month goals: scatter these throughout the year. Don’t overlap them. Don’t stress yourself out. These goals are supposed to make your life better, not worse.
3 month goals: These interchange well with 1 month goals, they can overlap, but just think about how much time you can REALISTICALLY dedicate each month, week or day.
6 month goals: 2 per year is plenty. We’re busy people.
Each “big picture” goal requires steps (or smaller goals) to achieve it. It’s not enough to say “I will go busking”. I’ve already talked about mapping your goals to your year, so by now my goal reads “I will go busking at least once by March 31st”. Much better. But what do I need to do between now and then to accomplish this?
Mostly I just need to practice. But how much? I also need to know some songs by heart, but how many? Building habits bit by bit is the key. I’m not in the habit of playing my ukulele more than once every 6 months so saying “I will begin practicing daily from January 1st” is really just not practical. It won’t happen. So how do you do it?
Break it down
January: Practice 30 mins a week and decide what songs should be on my list
February: Practice 60 mins a week
March: Practice 20 mins a day
This break down and slow build up is much more likely to get you kicking goals than beginning with a flat out sprint and collapsing halfway down the track.
To help you stay focussed and motivated on your goals, it’s important to have balance. If all your goals are professional goals, you’re going to become overwhelmed and unmotivated in the long run. Likewise, if all your goals are personal then that’s nice but you’re still probably not going to feel satisfied at the end of the year. Balance is key. Or, if you prefer, “variety is the spice of life”.
My list for 2020 includes a mix of creative, personal, health/fitness, and professional goals spread across the year, with actionable steps to achieve each one. Some are simple strategies, some need a bit more planning. But knowing when in the year I want to work on each goal means I don’t have to think about some of them for several months. And if I don’t achieve anything this year, the planning is already there for me to pick it up next year!
It might sound like a lot of effort, but really 30 minutes of planning today could not only save you a lot of time later, but will also improve your chance of actually doing the things you want to do.
Ideas to “break free” from resolutions
Resolution: Eat healthy
Habit adjustment: Going “cold turkey” doesn’t work for everyone. If you’re used to a certain diet, it’s very hard to change that overnight. Small steps are the way to go.
Goal: Create a “Meal Plan”, or selective list of recipes that you’ve tried and tested which are healthy and make up a balanced diet. This way you don’t have to put so much thought into eating healthy in the long run, you just pick from the list that works for you.
Resolution: Exercise more
Habit adjustment: Again, start off small with something actually achievable. It can be as simple as 2 x 30 minute walks a week, and build your way up from there. Realistic expectations!
Goal: Be able to run 10km by X month.
- For each resolution, determine a goal.
- For each goal, determine a timeframe, to-do list, and mini goals to pace yourself appropriately.
- Map your goals to the calendar year based on their timeframes and your availability
- Be REALISTIC and STAY BALANCED
If you try this out and it helps you, leave a comment to let me know!
Until next time,