By Ieva Bruzaite
It’s that time of year where we over-indulge and seem to regret it soon after. We tell ourselves that this coming new year will be our year because we are going to set and achieve our goals. We write down a list of what we want to achieve by this time next year. Despite the lengthiness and vagueness of our lists, we convince ourselves that we can definitely do it because this coming year is going to be different. And it is – for about a month. So, we’re back at square one feeling like we’ve failed and almost begin to poke fun at ourselves for how ridiculous we were for setting such high and somewhat unrealistic expectations. So where do we go wrong and how can we make sure that this year will, in fact, be different from the others?
The most common mistake and one that generally costs us actually achieving our goals is setting goals that can’t be measured. Being fitter can mean absolutely anything and nothing at the same time. When setting goals, they need to be measurable, and you need to know when exactly you are able to tick it off that list. For something as vague as being fitter, that can be running 10km non-stop or simply being able to do one more push up than before. Both of those things point to a person becoming fitter but which one of those achievements was the goal?
MAKE IT SPECIFIC
As mentioned above, when setting goals think about what exactly you are going to do to achieve it and when will you know if you have achieved it. If your goal is to be healthier, does that mean that you order takeout once a week instead of two/three times a week? Does it mean that you are going to have a piece of fruit after your breakfast in the morning? Does it mean you will sleep for 7-8 hours every night?
Break down your overall targets to tiny and digestible actions that most importantly can be measured. Becoming healthier, fitter, financially free, etc. are all things that are really difficult to see progress in until it has become a lifestyle and no longer just a habit.
Investing in habit tracker is a good visual representation that you are working towards your goal. If you can see that you are making progress and working towards your goal, you will be more inclined to continue to do it again and again. That’s why making the goals become tiny responsibilities that you can chip away at each day and week will keep you motivated to keep going.
MAKE IT EASY
When you set a goal to achieve something, it usually means changing something in your life to make it happen and change can sometimes be difficult. Make achieving your New Year’s resolutions easier by leaving cues around your house that remind you to do whatever it is you committed to. If you want to do yoga a few times a week at home, leaving the mat tucked away somewhere you can’t see will not make it easier to get up and practice. However, if you leave it somewhere you can see, it’ll be like a gentle reminder of the goal you set.
If you are looking to save x amount of money, why not set up a standing order to have a percentage of your wages automatically sent to a savings account without having to lift a finger?
MAKE IT REALISTIC
It’s all well and good to make a list of who we would be as people in an ideal world. Although daydreaming about such things may be nice, we need to be realistic. When and where are you going to carry out what you committed to? Will it be in the morning? Before or after breakfast? Could you do it on your lunch break? Is that realistic though? Perhaps right after work? Before or after dinner? You need to find a slot in your busy day where you will commit to working towards your goal. If it’s something that is on-going like drinking more water, set a goal that each day you will have drank x amount of water by 6pm. Make this easier by getting a bottle that has the measurements on the side.
If you want to become a morning person, simply waking up three hours earlier than you’re used to is not going to work, you’re going to need to slowly ease into that transition and guide your body through it. Perhaps start by waking up 15 minutes earlier every day and then slowly week by week wake up earlier and you’ll have eventually made the transition in a way that doesn’t shock your body into never wanting to do it again.
MAKE IT HAPPEN
Now for the hard part, actually do what you promise to do. Remind yourself every day if you must about why you set that goal and why it is important to you that you achieve it. It’s not going to be easy, but it will be worth it. Don’t be discouraged if you slip up from time to time, that’s normal as we are not machines but humans at the end of the day. Life can get in the way and sometimes cause a lot of things to be pushed to the back seat. That’s okay. All you can do is try not to make it a habit of slipping up, bounce back as quick as you possibly can, and you’ll be on the road to success again.
Your goals will not just be “habits” but a new way of life before you know it. New Year, New You.