December 28, 2021

New Year, same Failed Resolutions—Sound Familiar?


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About 8 out of 10 New Year’s resolutions fail.

This is often because we make resolutions that are too hard, too vague, or too many in number.

According to James Clear, “somewhere between 81 percent and 92 percent of New Year’s Resolutions fail.” That sounds pretty disheartening. I stopped making New Year’s resolutions for years because of this. I am still a goal-setting person though, so here are some tips I use to create goals throughout the year that can help us make our dreams a reality.

A long time ago, a friend’s dad told me, “A goal is a dream with a plan” and it really is the planning part that is key!

Your resolutions don’t have to be doomed from the start. If you really want to make positive change in your life this year, think of three things you want most of all, and then turn them into “SMART” goals.

When starting with new self-improvement habits, the thing to remember is that you don’t want to start too many new habits at one time. James Clear says, “The highest number you’ll find is changing three habits at once and that suggestion comes from BJ Fogg at Stanford University.” If you try to change too much in your life at once, it is going to be too hard, and you aren’t going to be able to succeed. So, choose three resolutions at most to set yourself up for success!

In my own life, I will typically split up my goals and resolutions across different areas of my life, so that I am making change in a balanced way. Typically, I will have a goal for my work, my finances, and my health. When I make goals for family, I make them together with my partner.

By having resolutions that are all very different, I find it is easier to work on all of them at the same time.

For example, my first goal is to learn to do 20 sit-ups. I start with 5, then 10, then 15, then 20. My second goal is to save $100 per month. My third goal is to get a new certification for my job. Now, I can work on all these simultaneously because I am working on them at different times of the day and in different areas of my life—and none of them is the trigger for any of the others.

Once you have made your resolutions, you will want to write them up as SMART goals. This will help you to form a plan of how you are going to set your interim steps to meet the goals.

According to Mind Tools, “To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be:

>> Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
>> Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
>> Achievable (agreed, attainable).
>> Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
>> Time-bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

In my example from earlier, you will notice that most of them contain numbers. This makes them both specific and measurable. Making them achievable goes back to the point about tiny habits, and not making resolutions that are too hard.

Time-bound means you set a date to meet the goal. You can do this with your big goal for the year (your resolution) and the small sub-goals that you use to get there.

If your original resolutions don’t meet this formatting, you can easily rewrite them to be SMART. Then, you can put all your goals into a planner, or on a bulletin board so that you can look at them regularly, to be sure that you are on track with your goals.

If you use these tips, it can help you learn to be more goal-oriented, and help you make your dreams come true for the new year. Also, don’t forget to be gentle with yourself, and start slow. If you are anything like me, you have probably spent the whole holiday going to parties, eating, drinking, and lying on the couch. It is important to work back up to where you were before the holidays—with things like exercise—before you try to push harder. None of us can go from being a fluffy couch potato to being ripped with six-pack abs overnight!

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