Want to develop a healthier lifestyle next year? If so, it’s important that you set goals and know how to stick to your goals despite the hurdles you’re bound to discover on your journey.
In this article, we’re taking a closer look at how to stick to your goals next year so you can accomplish exactly what you set out to achieve.
How to Stick to Your Goals, the SMART Way
The new year is fast approaching, and with it comes the opportunity to set our sights on new horizons. It is reported that nearly half of American adults will use this occasion to form some sort of resolution toward changing for the better. Of those who declare a new year resolution, only twenty percent of them will manage to stick to their promise.
Why is it that so few people seem to be able to follow through with their resolve? You have probably heard the famous saying, most often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, which posits, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Simply stating what we want to do – or think we should do – is not the same as making a plan for change. Those who make new years resolutions are often doing no more than speaking a wishful thought, aloud.
Making wishes can be a fun way to pass the time, but they lack substance and structure. They do not provide us with any road maps for how to get where we are dreaming of being. For this reason, experts tend to emphasize forming goals, instead of making resolutions, for your upcoming year.
Here’s how to stick to your goals next year.
Since the concept came into focus during the 1980s, project managers, counselors, and teachers have been applying this practical approach toward getting things done.
The SMART goals idea can be adapted, modified, and expounded to fit just about any setting. The key in the application lies in making sure that you have the tools, ambition, accountability, and ability to hit your finish line.
So what are SMART goals?
Goals which are considered to be smart are those that have very specific outcomes in mind. Think about the popular concept of wanting to be rich. What does that mean? How does one get rich? How does one know when he or she has arrived at being rich? Breaking larger projects down into bite-sized pieces can make overwhelming tasks appear much more manageable. Rather than aiming for an abstract goal of being rich, set down some specific targets for your money to be directed toward. You might form a goal for where you want your retirement fund to be at the end of the year, or a goal for a certain bill to be paid off.
Closely related to the concept of being specific is the idea that successful outcomes need to be measurable. Without setting a numerically-based guideline for ourselves, we won’t be able to definitely announce that we have reached our goal. As scientists can teach us, just about any idea can be made into something measurable. Your numbered goals for determining success can come from the amount of dollars saved, the amount of pounds lost, or the amount of days that you stay sober. You can create habits of making five compliments a day, or of calling your loved ones once a week. You want your target goal to be something that can be marked off with a checkbox.
This aspect of your goal refers to the practicality of getting to your goal. Success tends to breed more success, so we certainly don’t want to be setting ourselves up for failure when plotting out our course for the next year. Take some time to consider your actual resources. These may be in the form of money, energy, time, or even your own personality bends. Form a goal which fits into what you can realistically accomplish over the period of time, and don’t overwhelm yourself with the commitment.
One useful way of considering whether something is achievable is to note whether you know of anyone else who has accomplished the same, or a similar, goal. If someone else – with similar resources – has already done it, then you know that it can be done. Spend some time researching what path these individuals took to end up where they are, and then implement their successful strategies into your own SMART goals.
While most disciplines will agree on how to assign the first two letters in a SMART goal, the “A” tends to be altered to fit specific structures. You might also see it used as “attainable” or “assignable.” Pick the definition which works best for your needs.
Making sure that our goals are relevant to our quality of life can provide us with the boost we need to see our tasks through to the end. This is the stage of planning where you ask yourself “why” you are wanting to accomplish this goal. Your motivations for succeeding in it will be the fuel that will keep you going, and will be what guides you along the straight and narrow during times when you want to make choices that veer off of your predetermined course. Dig deep, and ask yourself what it is that makes this, particular, goal so meaningful to you.
Often times, what we think we want turns out to be contrary to what we actually will benefit from. The more time you spend in introspection, understanding what it is that has lasting, meaningful, value for you, the more ability you will have to make sure that your goals for this year are in line with your lifetime pursuits. This next year is a stepping stone for the rest of your life, so make it count toward the long-haul.
As any good procrastinator can tell you, “someday” never comes. Just as you will need to make your overall goals very specific, you will want to place a specific time-frame for your completion of the goal. Having a date set on the calendar keeps us accountable, and prompts us toward completing the daily tasks necessary to reach our milestones in time.
If the idea of allowing a whole year to pass before seeing results is too daunting, create your longer-term goals in a way that provides shorter-term satisfaction along the way. A goal of losing five pounds a month, for twelve months, is much easier to track than setting an overall goal of losing 60 pounds in a year.
Now that you know how to set and stick to your goals next year, you can decide which goals are right for you. Using the SMART method is helpful for those who would like to try a structured approach.
The SMART approach allows you to set realistic goals within a time-based structure so you know exactly where you are along your journey to achieving your goals.