Happy New Year: A Survival Guide for Setting Realistic Goals
Get ready to meet your best self in 2020. (No, really, for real this time.)
It’s probably safe to say that most of us have a love/hate relationship with setting goals. The potential for a new and improved life? Yes, please!
While the new year feels like the perfect time for a fresh start, all too often that “new year, new me” momentum starts to fizzle out once the excitement of the holiday wears off and the less glamorous version of life begins to take its toll.
What we need to find is some sort of compromise; a version of goal-setting that doesn’t require instantaneously transforming into a superhuman who has unlimited hours and energy each day. Perhaps the intention of goal setting shouldn’t be “doing more stuff,” but rather, “doing stuff better.”
Learn how to set goals that can help you create the kind of life you’d like to live with the following suggestions.
Get realistic about motivation
Chances are, any one of us could rattle off 10-15 things we would like to improve about our lives right now – and that’s a conservative estimate. But let’s face it, a “new you” isn’t realistic right this second. Instead, let’s focus on You 2.0, with an understanding that future updates will be rolled out eventually.
Achieving goals requires at least a little bit of urgency. What problems would you most like to solve? Which improvements would make the most dramatic long-term difference? Choose a few reasonable goals and get clear about what you’re hoping to accomplish. Once you have a good understanding of what you plan to achieve, identify three to five “baby steps” that could help you do it.
If you’re at all familiar with the lingo around goal setting, you’ve probably already heard of SMART goals. The acronym persists because it’s effective. Your goals should be:
- Specific: Be very clear about what you intend to accomplish. For instance, if your goal is weight loss, it should be defined as, “lose 10 pounds by September” instead of a vague “get fit” version.
- Measurable: Metrics help provide a benchmark for success and can help keep you motivated. Give yourself a finish line to focus on and add a great reward for yourself.
- Attainable: Set yourself up for success by choosing goals that are actually possible. You need to be able to accomplish forward movement with small steps.
- Relevant: When setting your goals, think of the version of yourself that you’d like to become. Let that vision guide your actions.
- Time-bound: Our less desirable side is sneaky. If you don’t have a deadline, that side of yourself will work to convince you that you can do everything later. Don’t believe it. Create an end date for your big goals, and then schedule “check-in” dates for progressing through the baby steps that will help you get there. This way you can easily measure your progress – and enjoy more occasions for celebration.
Write it down
You need a plan of action, not just some ideas. Write your goals down, make sure they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Then break them down into smaller segments so that you can determine how you will fit those action items into your days, weeks, or months.
Find a way to keep your plan visible, so it doesn’t become an “out of sight, out of mind” situation, and a method for measuring progress. Even something as simple as downloading one of our printables for the front of your fridge and pairing it with a grown-up version of a gold sticker chart can serve as valuable tools for success.
You’re going to lose 10 pounds by September? Cool. How? Oh, you’re going to double your serving of green vegetables with every meal, go to the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays after work, and take the dog on a two-mile walk Saturday mornings? It sounds like you have a solid beginning for setting successful goals.
One of the most important things to remember when setting goals is to be kind to yourself – being realistic about what you want and focusing on how you will achieve that is ultimately a form of kindness.
There’s probably no need for a whole “new you,” but an update is never a bad idea. Identify areas of your life that could benefit from a makeover and take baby steps toward being a better version of yourself.
1THRIVE creates beautiful, customizable command centers with interchangeable components that support your efforts to live a more organized life. We make setting goals easy with our free printables. Sign up to receive access to all our printables today.