Instead of New Years Resolutions, Set Short-Term Goals

I feel the same pressure every January. You know what I am talking about… New Year’s resolutions. The questions start running through my mind… what should they be? Do I really need to set them? Do I have the staying power? All legitimate questions, but does this process further my needs? It’s time to rethink this annual ritual.

Unfortunately the stats on on how many people accomplish their New Year’s resolutions are not good. Recent studies show that only 25% of people follow through on their resolutions for just 30 days and only 8% of people ever accomplish them in some way.

Rethinking Resolutions

But what if you reframe resolutions? Try this on for size… think of resolutions as short-term goals instead of life-altering accomplishments. You may be thinking that goals can be just as intimidating. If that is the case, then I suggest you rethink how you form your goals. Start with these three simple questions:

  • What you want to accomplish?
  • Why do you want to do it?
  • What will it take?

Goals Are the New Resolutions

Goals do not need to be lofty. In fact, in my opinion, the smaller the goal the more likely you are to reach it. Think of goals as simple means of moving forward. Use them to help you to define success, outline a clear path and identify the steps you need to take. Remember that goals in and of themselves need to be achievable– not vast dreaming or unreachable wishlists. Consider these tips:

  • Set a goal that motivates you. If you feel excited about something, you are much more likely to work at it over a long period of time.
  • Get as specific as possible. Think of it this way… isn’t it much easier to “step outside daily to see the sunshine” than to “be happier.” But, honestly, the daily peak of sun may likely lead to the more elusive happiness over time.
  • Make it relevant. Keep your goals relevant to your work and/or personal life and you will stay engaged. Ultimately, the personal attention that relevancy bakes in reaps the most benefit for your efforts.
  • Define step-by-step tasks. The more you can break down your process in achievable steps, the more likely it is that you’ll accomplish your final task.
  • Measure progress. There are many ways to measure your progress (spreadsheets, journaling, calendaring, etc…) but be sure to choose a tool that easy to use. You want to remove as many barriers to success as possible.
  • Evaluate. As you make progress, make sure your goals are still aligned with your needs. If you start working towards a goal and then you realize that it isn’t going to be what you expected, it’s ok to stop. Flexibility is key.
  • Congratulate yourself. While tracking your progress, be sure to keep track of what you are doing well and take a moment to breath in the incremental success.