When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, only 8 percent of people actually achieve them and 88 percent of people fail by February. Why is that? Because most people shoot for the moon setting overly ambitious and vague goals – like getting healthy, losing weight or paying off all your debt. The key to setting goals is to think about them in smaller, shorter, incremental goals that will slowly allow you to achieve your bigger goal.
Follow the S.M.A.R.T. technique when setting your New Year’s resolutions and you’ll be on your way to a brand new you in 2018. It’s a very simple framework and one of the best techniques available to creating achievable goals.
Your goal should be as specific as possible. That means it should include what you want to accomplish, what the result would look like, who else would possibly be involved, when you want the goal completed and where you want to accomplish the goal. For example, “I want to earn an extra $500 by December 2018 by selling makeup online.”
Define exactly how you will measure progress in reaching your goal. This is easiest when associating a number and a date with your goal. For example, if you plan to lose weight, it might read “I will lose 2 pounds a month for a total of 20 pounds by this time next year.” If you don’t measure your progress, it will be nearly impossible for you to determine if you’ve achieved it. Don’t want to weigh yourself? Take measurements and work with those numbers.
Is the goal you’ve decided on for yourself attainable at this point in time in your life? Do you have the resources to achieve this goal? Will you have the energy to focus on your goal? For example, if your goal is to volunteer 5 hours a month on weekends with the homeless shelter, and you have little kids at home, is this goal realistic for you at this point in your life? Attainability is about you and whether you have the energy, focus and time to achieve it.
A realistic goal is one you are able and willing to work toward. For example, walking 5 miles a day may not be realistic for someone who just started adding exercise to their routine. This goal could quickly and easily lead to frustration and cause abandonment. If a goal is too difficult, you won’t be able to commit to it in the long term. Your goals shouldn’t be easy, but they should be do-able.
Time creates urgency and your goals should be time-based so you have a hard deadline in order to measure your success. For example, “I want to lose 10 pounds by my high school reunion on May 15, 2018.”
The Man who moves a mountain begins by carrying small stones” – Confucious. One of the reasons so many people don’t achieve their New Year’s resolutions is because their goals are too far from their current lifestyle choices and they give up. Making a handful of small, but positive, lasting changes to your life will increase the chances that they stick. Some small goal examples would be to lose one pound a month, to stop drinking soda on weekdays, or to only eat out for dinner twice a week.
If you need a little inspiration, check out the Huffington Post’s list of 50 healthy New Year’s resolutions.