Set Goals, Not Resolutions
My New Year’s resolution this year will be to quit making resolutions at all. Why? I tend to set very vague, and largely unreasonable resolutions for myself during the New Year. In turn, when I don’t meet these resolutions, I am overcome with feelings of guilt, anxiety, and often feel worse than when I first started. Therefore, instead of setting resolutions this New Year, I will set goals. Attainable goals.
People are obsessed with the outcome of their resolutions, and not so much with the process itself. When you do this, you will feel you’ve failed for a large majority of your journey because of the comparison of where you are now versus where you want to be. You’ll fall into a negative spiral; one that may carry profound ramifications.
Setting goals, rather than resolutions, is a much healthier alternative. Goals are specific, whereas resolutions are usually general and vague. By setting goals for the upcoming year, your actions will be more realizable, which is what makes them more effective. You may be wondering: Hmm, I’ve already made my resolutions though, and I don’t necessarily want to change them… but how can I turn them into goals?
I highly recommend using the SMART method. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Let’s break it down:
Think about this step as the mission statement for your goal. Similarly to what you’ve learned in your English classes, you have your five ‘W’ questions:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Why is this goal important to me?
- Who will be involved?
- Where is this going to take place?
- Which resources do I need to accomplish this goal?
Example: A specific goal for the upcoming year could be, “I want to build more strength endurance, so that I can feel stronger and be healthier”
Creating measurable goals will provide a way to measure progress, thus making it more tangible.
Example: You may measure your goal of acquiring fitness skills by tracking the amount of weight in pounds you can lift with a specific movement.
Your goals are meant to motivate you, not discourage you. In order for your goals to be successful, they must be achievable. Ask yourself these questions:
- How will I accomplish this goal?
- How realistic is the goal (taking into consideration other constraints)?
Example: Do you have the time to complete your goal? Are there certain resources you need, and are they available to you? Do you have financial constraints? Are there barriers I will face while working towards this goal?
Your goal must be realistic. Set a goal that you will be able to achieve given the timeline you have set and the resources that are available to you. If your goal seems too big, break it into smaller pieces that are more realistic.
- Is this goal worthwhile?
- Is this goal applicable in my current environment/does it match my other needs?
Example: If your goal is to travel to at least five new places this year, ask yourself: “Can I afford that much travel? Will I be able to take that much time off from my studies?”
If your goal lacks realistic timing, it is unlikely you will accomplish what you want. Set a target date, and ask yourself
- When will I realize this goal?
- What can I do in 4 weeks, 6 months, 10 months from now?
Example: If your goal is to learn to play the guitar, make sure you’re allowing yourself enough time to learn, practice, and grasp how to play a new instrument. Do you need lessons? How long do you think this will take you?
I hope that following these guidelines will help you turn any resolution into an attainable goal… but please, don’t be afraid to take the necessary steps, no matter how long it may take. This year is your year, make choices that will better your growth, not bring you down.
Let’s be real… I will not get a six-pack in 2 months. I will not give up chips or chocolate. I will most certainly not turn my life around within one year. But guess what? That’s completely fine. I’m human, and it’s okay to take my time. I will absolutely make goals and efforts, but I will not put myself down for taking the time to get where I want to be. Instead of making New Year's resolutions this year, I will make goals. Goals for my health, my happiness, and my wellbeing. Trust me, it’s worth it.