New Year’s resolutions often get a bad rap. For whatever reason, when you talk about making resolutions or goals for the new year, people scoff, roll their eyes, or drop a sarcastic wisecrack. Honestly, I don’t know why there’s so much hate regarding New Year’s resolutions. However, they have been crucial in helping me achieve some big life goals. For example, they gave me the confidence to create my blog. Hence, I thought it would be beneficial to share my approach to resolutions and yearly goal setting with you. Maybe this can inspire you to make some aspirational goals that change the trajectory of your life.
Why Do New Year’s Resolutions Matter?
We all have dreams, desires, and passions that we want to fulfill while we’re on this earth. But, to achieve those goals, you must resolve to make changes or improvements to bring those things to fruition. That’s why New Year’s resolutions are so powerful! I mean, what better time than the start of the year to realize and go after your dreams and goals? Because when you achieve your goals and become who you’re destined to be, you can impact the world!
Whether that’s becoming a more significant influence on those in your immediate life, or you are resolving to prioritize your health and nutrition. But I believe it all matters in the grand scheme of things. I mean, think about the people that live frustrated lives and take their disappointments out on others.
So often, their attitude is due to a failure to achieve, realize or reach their dreams. The failed potential is a heavyweight to carry around for the rest of your life. And, who wants to reflect on their life and feel regret? Therefore, I’m a big believer in setting healthy resolutions. And that’s why I want to empower you on how to go about making these things happen. You may fail, but what if you succeed? Either way, you gave it a shot, friend, and that’s what matters!
Creating S.M.A.R.T Goals to Achieve Your New Year Resolutions
I hope my little “Ted talk” on the power of New Year’s resolutions got you fired up! Because today we’re going to talk about how to go about achieving them by creating S.M.A.R.T. goals. S.M.A.R.T is an acronym that represents the five basic foundations of goal setting, which are:
Additionally, I like to throw two other essential components into the goal-setting process. They are building sustainable habits and conquering your obstacles. I think these two steps are necessary additions to this process. So, I will break down this process and teach you the seven steps I use when making resolutions and setting goals. I hope you’re ready because this is going to be fire. So, let’s start creating some SMART goals!
Step One: Get Specific
Sure, it’s easy to say you’re going to work out more in the New Year or say you’re going to follow a healthy diet. But, chances are you’re not truly committed to the goal. So, instead of just saying you’re going to do something, become intentional and think about the why. This process is the difference between putting effort into achieving my goal versus not. The more I understand how this goal will positively impact my life, the more I desire to make it a reality.
So, get clear on this, sit down, and analyze why your specific goal matters. And get as detailed as possible. You may want to journal or receive feedback from a trustworthy source. Either option is a great idea to help you dig a little deeper and get to the root cause of your why.
Some questions to ask are:
- Why does this goal matter?
- What’s your objective in achieving this goal?
- What outcome are you seeking to achieve specifically?
- Is this outcome physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual?
- Will there be a tangible benefit gained from achieving this goal?
- Once you’ve accomplished this goal, can you easily sustain it?
- Are you doing this for yourself or someone else?
- What’s your mission?
- What are your hopes, dreams, desires, and passions?
- Are you committed?
Once you’re clear on “why,” you’re ready for the next step.
Step Two: Measure Your Success
A key reason many people give up on their New Year’s resolutions is the failure to set benchmarks to measure progress. You need to find ways to track and monitor your success regularly. Doing so will keep you committed and keep your goal at the forefront of your mind. So, you avoid the temptation to make excuses or slack off.
It’s also a great way to determine if you need to tweak or change what you’re doing to get better results. Creating a goal tracker in a journal or planner helps track progress and increases accountability. Key metrics to focus on when tracking your success include:
- Identifying daily, weekly, or monthly benchmarks you can measure.
- Analyzing behaviors, feelings, or thought processes that hold you back.
- Looking for patterns that indicate growth, setbacks, and stagnancy.
- Finding weak areas, you can strengthen to continue moving forward.
Step Three: Develop Actionable Steps
Sometimes when we have big New Year’s resolutions, they can seem overwhelming. It’s easy to become bogged down or feel like it’s impossible to achieve your goal. Therefore, I’m a fan of breaking a goal into small mini-goals. By doing this, you’re able to manage your goal effectively. Thus, making it easier to know what needs to get done.
Your action steps can be broken down over days, weeks, or months. It all depends on how you choose to pace yourself.
Let’s say your goal is to run a half marathon this year, but you’ve never run a day in your life like ever. Instead of overwhelming yourself and causing possible injury, start a bit smaller at first. Aim to train for and complete a 5K first. And then, progress onward to a half-marathon.
Your training could consist of running 1/2mile for two weeks. Then progress to 1 mile for another two weeks. Finally, you can start running 3 miles for the next two weeks. Now you’re ready to sign up and run your first 5K. Wow, what an accomplishment. You went from no running experience to a low-key athlete. And, while you’re not ready for that half-marathon just yet, you’re more prepared. So, you see, breaking goals down helps make the impossible attainable.
When developing actionable steps, make sure you keep these five things in mind:
- What resources and supplies do you need, if any, to get started?
- What resources and supplies are necessary to continue?
- How much time will you devote to your goal each day, week, or month?
- How can you break this goal down into actionable steps that can be accomplished daily, weekly, monthly?
- How do these steps build on each other and move you closer to your goal?
- Will you need money to achieve this goal? If so, can you budget and save for the financial commitment?
Step Four: Be Realistic
Understand me when I say I believe you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to. But, you have to be honest with yourself regarding your skills and abilities. For instance, resolving to become a world-famous opera singer when you can’t carry a tune to save your life isn’t realistic.
When setting realistic goals, avoid setting yourself up for failure. So, be honest with yourself. Then, analyze your environment, lifestyle, time, resources, and responsibilities. All these things determine how realistic your goal is.
Key self-exploration questions to ask include:
- Do you have the resources to achieve this goal? (Time, money, supplies, passion, focus, skills, and abilities)
- Is this a goal you can achieve in a realistic amount of time? (i.e., six weeks, six months, or 12 months)
- What’s the objective of achieving this goal?
Step Five: Make It Time-Bound
A key issue I’ve had in the past when it came to achieving my New Year’s resolutions is I never had a specific time when it had to be accomplished. As a result, there was never any rush or sense of urgency to get things done. And, due to this lack of urgency, I usually got bored and would quit pursuing my goal.
However, setting deadlines for my goals created a massive shift. That’s when I began to smash my resolutions each year. It’s common to develop a yearly deadline for New Year’s resolutions. But, I’m telling you that’s a mistake. It would help if you had a specific date and time with benchmarks along the way to keep your head in the game.
Let’s take a step back and revisit creating an action plan. Remember when I said it’s essential to break your goal into mini-goals? Now you can transform those goals into habits, actions, and behaviors you achieve on specific dates throughout your journey.
This timeline should coincide with your lifestyle and be unique to your needs. So, you can create a goal with a 6-month or 12-month deadline. First, however, make sure you schedule 6–12-week check-ins to evaluate your progress and determine if you’ve established the habits, performed the actions and behaviors needed to continue your progression. Doing this allows you to adjust and change if you encounter stumbling blocks or face unforeseen circumstances.
Tips for creating a timeline for your goal include:
- First, create your mini-goals.
- Next designate when benchmarks should be achieved, for example, every six or twelve weeks.
- Determine the habits, actions, behaviors, and projects that align with your goal.
- Utilize a planner to schedule due dates for benchmarks and check-ins.
Step Six: Build Sustainable Habits
I’m sure that your New Year’s resolutions are lifestyle changes you’re seeking to make permanently. This can only be possible if you develop the habits you need to make these goals a part of your life. I can think of no better way to create habits than establishing routines and practices that support your goals.
For example, I enjoy working out in the morning. My morning workouts give me clarity and focus. And, they turn this grumpy troll into a magical unicorn. So, that’s why I’ve created routines that support this goal. The purpose of these routines is to make it easier for me to stick to my goal. Whether it means I prioritize sleep in the evening by going to bed early. Or I was taking the time to lay out my gym gear the night prior. These habits allow me to stick to a consistent workout routine.
So, here’s a few ways you can utilize habit-building to form a routine.
- Determine what actions you need to turn into regular habits.
- Utilize these actions and habits to formulate a routine.
- Think about ways you can utilize your actions and habits to trigger adhering to a set routine
- Find and overcome patterns that hinder you from maintaining a routine.
Step Seven: Conquer Your Obstacles
Another vital part of achieving your New Year’s resolutions is anticipating the obstacles and stumbling blocks that may get in the way. This is the part of goal planning that is quite often overlooked.
At the same time, it’s impossible to foresee all the potential problems you may encounter. You can identify limiting factors that are already present and holding you back. I mean, there’s something in your life or within yourself that keeps you from accomplishing your goal. If not, you would’ve already achieved it. So, therefore, identifying those limiting factors can help you overcome them.
Let’s say you are determined to cook more healthy meals at home. It’s something that you’ve wanted to do forever. But, for whatever reason, whenever you start trying to make this goal a reality, you end up quitting. Finally, after some honest self-reflection, you realize that the reason you stop cooking healthy meals is that you hate grocery shopping. You find it tedious and difficult because of your busy schedule. Well, an easy solution would be to opt to have your groceries delivered or schedule to pick them up from your grocery store. That way, you don’t have to do the grocery shopping, but you’re getting the fresh ingredients you need to cook healthy meals at home. Problem solved!
So, when you’re looking for ways to conquer your obstacles, focus on:
- But, first, address the limiting factors and beliefs that currently hold you back.
- Identifying seasonal or cyclical setbacks that cause you to stumble. (i.e., the holidays, travel, seasonal changes)
- Unique health circumstances, such as an invisible illness, need to be accounted for.
Applying this seven-step process to your New Year’s resolutions can help you achieve your yearly goals. And, while creating S.M.A.R.T goals and having a solid plan is well, smart remember that things won’t always go your way. Life happens despite our plans and efforts to prepare for it. So, don’t be surprised if you must tweak or adjust your goals or objectives.
Also, don’t be surprised if you start working towards your goal only to discover that what you planned isn’t working or you’re running into roadblocks. When you hit unexpected stumbling blocks or find that you’re not happy with the path you’re on, don’t be afraid to switch things up and change.
I remember when I first committed to working out four times per week. I was going in the evening after work, and it was ok for a while. But then I began to become less motivated and found that I was too tired and mentally drained to go to the gym. I just wanted to go home and relax. That’s when I sat down, looked at my schedule, and decided to try working out in the morning before work.
Over nine years ago, I discovered that I genuinely preferred morning workouts. And making that switch is what made fitness and regular exercise a habit that I’ve stuck to. Imagine if I would’ve been stubborn and tried to make myself stick to evening workouts because that’s just what I thought was best. I don’t think it would’ve become a proper priority for me. So, stay open to making minor tweaks and changes when you feel something isn’t working. Then, do what you need to do to reach your goals.