The fresh start of a new year typically brings feelings of enthusiasm for setting personal goals or making resolutions. But after the past two years, we just had, asking anyone to focus on lofty resolutions sounds a bit daunting, and for good reason. But before you dismiss the idea of goal setting as laughable considering all the uncertainty still happening, setting goals could actually be more essential right now, in order to maintain your productivity as well as your sanity.
Before we dive into what does work. Let’s talk about what doesn’t… most resolutions. Resolutions tend to be back or white, all or nothing. And we don’t usually plan out how to sustain those resolutions for a whole year. Perhaps that’s why only 8 percent of people who make a New Year’s resolution keep it.
Here are 3 of the top reasons why resolutions fail:
1. They are too big or unattainable.
2. They are not specific enough and have no action steps.
3. They are based on what we think we should do, or what someone else wants, and not what we truly want.
If you want meaningful, lasting change in your life, you need a plan with a purpose.
Before you set goals and learn how to create habits to achieve them, it’s important to assess the previous year… even if it was LESS than amazing. By doing so, you will have a clearer picture of the things in your life that are working, as well as the areas you may need to adjust and improve upon. Use this as a guide when sculpting your vision in step 2.
With a clean slate (and remember, every day is a clean slate), it’s time to create your vision for what you truly want and why you want it.Your 1-year vision is a picture of your anticipated way of life or a mental picture of what you want. The more clearly you can hold that picture in your mind, the more likely you’ll be able to achieve it. When you visualize your outcome clearly, your brain becomes far more effective at manifesting it. Imagine, for a moment that it’s one year from today. Now, write it down in paragraph form. MOST IMPORTANTLY, write it as if it has already happened. Use phrases such as, “I have… I am…”
Now that you have a clear vision for what your life will look like, it’s time to make a list of goals that will help bring your vision to life. Start by listing every possible goal you can think of that you would like to accomplish this year (or in the timeline of your choosing). Later, you will have to set some priorities to narrow down these goals. But for now, the sky’s the limit. We find it’s helpful to set goals based on the various areas of your life that you want to work on or categories. Again, write your goals down and aim to keep your goals positive. Avoid negative goals, such as, “I want to stop doing ___”
Once you have a written list of all your goals, it’s time to narrow them down. The number of goals chosen will be different for each person, but we suggest somewhere between 3 and 5 main goals. For some of you, choosing just one this year might be enough, and that’s ok! You can always choose more main goals at any time. The objective is to choose goals that are most likely to bring the greatest results or that get you closer to your vision. Consider choosing goals that speak to the biggest pain points or stressors in your life that you would like to change. Another idea is to go through your list and rack each goal from 1-10, based on their importance to you, or how much accomplishing them would increase your feelings of happiness and fulfillment.
Besides each of your main goals, write a statement about why you want to achieve each goal. Dig deep. Keep going until it gets personal. Be as real and vulnerable with yourself as you can. This is when your ‘why’ will help bring these goals to life and give them purpose. The internal ‘why’ keeps that motivational fire going. Now that you know your main goals and why you desire to achieve them, let’s set up some action items to keep this momentum going.
Under each of your main goals, your next task will be to determine what action steps need to be taken to help you achieve your goal. These action steps can be both measurable and non-mensurable. The number of action items is up to you, but a good starting place is about 3-5. If you find you are doing well at completing these actions, (eventually forming habits), you can always add more!
Not every goal you wrote down on your master list is going to make the “Major List,” and that’s ok! You can still choose items beyond your main goals that you would like to have happened this year. These minor goals could be things like buying a new couch, taking a vacation, or reading two books this year. Generally speaking, your minor goals are the fun things you’d like to have, do, or try this year. And although they may not require as much focused effort to achieve them, creating action steps will help make planning for them or doing them more enjoyable and less stressful.
In this portion, you can include additional habits that you want to practice. These are activities that don’t have a specific end date, but that when repeated over time, help supports your main goals, or just help you like a more fulfilled life in general. When selecting daily habits, you might choose “Get up at 6 a.m. on weekdays,” “Writing down something you are grateful for,” and “Make the bed.” Weekly habits could include things like “Call a friend,” “Go for a bike ride,” and “Family dinner around the table Sundays.”
Now that you have your main and minor goals, as well as your habits plotted out on paper, print it out and hang it somewhere you will see it every day. Hang it in your office. Post it beside your bathroom mirror. Visualizing your goals and seeing them daily will help keep you on track.
Check out our full blog for some written examples and even more helpful tips to keep your goals on track!
We hope this guide was helpful as you plan your goals any time during the year. For additional help reaching your health and wellness goals, we can help!