The start of a new year is the perfect opportunity to start fresh, ditch bad habits and establish new routines. We get excited to turn the page and set new resolutions, and by the end of march many of us have abandoned our goals. It happens time again to the extent that some people have given up on setting goals at the beginning of the year.
When I reflect on my life, I come back to the fact that I wouldn’t be where I am today without these six easy steps. I’ve learned that simply setting the right goals and being disciplined to the process to achieving them is the key to success. Setting SMART goals, making a plan, starting small, evaluating and rewarding myself has proven to be the difference between success and failure for sticking to my new year’s resolution.
If you’re tired of your new year’s resolutions being an annual disappointment, here are six easy steps that you can take to increase the likelihood that you will stick to your goals this year.
Make S.M.A.R.T goals
Smart goals are:
- Specific: unambiguous & clear
- Measurable: a trackable criteria to maintain your progress
- Achievable: attainable and can be reasonably accomplished
- Relevant: within reach and aligns with your core values
- Timely: a defined timeline to keep you on track and motivated like a start or end date
It’s easier for us to set a goal to “save more money” or “eat healthier” but instead of creating a list of unambiguous statements, focus on clarifying your ideas. When you realistically set your sights on achievable goals that are relevant to your purpose and use your time productively, it is inevitable that you will achieve what you want in life.
For example, instead of saying you want to save more money, you might commit to creating a budget, saving $50 each week, or $10k by July to purchase your dream home. This way you have established your why and created a concrete, measurable, attainable and timely goal. With SMART goals you are able to plan actions steps for exactly how you want to accomplish (and stick to) your goals throughout the year.
“A goal properly set is half reached”
Take time to plan
Creating a plan is an essential part of achieving any goal. A plan can help you to realistically stick to your goals especially when you encounter a setback. After brainstorming your goals, set time aside to plan how you are going to tackle those goals and write down the action steps that you will take over the course of the year to meet your goals. When you face challenges, you can refer to your plan to evaluate the strategies you will use to stay on path.
When I set my goals for the year, I break them down into smaller goals per quarter, month and week. At the start of every month and week, I set aside time to write out specific action steps that I am going to take to move me closer to achieving my goals. I also do this for my days. At the end of each day, I take time to plan for the next day. This planning strategy helps me to prioritize my goals and to stay on track throughout the year because It’s easy to get caught up trying to get a lot of things done while accomplishing little.
You may start by getting a great planner, list your goals, break them down into small actionable and attainable steps with deadlines then add them to your calendar. For example, if you want to save $12k by the end of the year, your plan may be to save $1k each month, eat out once a week, or work an extra hour each day. What’s your plan going to be? What do you plan to do each quarter, month, week and day to bring you closer to your goals?
“Our goals can be reached through the vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”Pablo Picasso
Limit your resolutions
You might have a long list of resolutions for your new year but I want to remind you that taking on too much all at once is a common reason why many new year’s resolutions fail. Have you ever created a long list of things you want to accomplish, spend the entire year trying to get it all done quickly then by the last quarter of the year you realized that you haven’t accomplished anything? I am guilty of this.
If you ask me, I am the queen of over-committing myself and taking on too many tasks at once. What I’ve learned from this is that focusing my energy on one particular goal at a time makes keeping a resolution easier. In fact, achieving one small thing boosted my confidence to keep going. If you’re a multi-tasker like me, consider breaking your larger goals into manageable steps.
Here are three alternatives that worked for me:
- Single-tasking: Choose one task to focus on at a given time. Whenever I feel like there are too many things to do, I brain-dump and create a plan for when I’ll address each task, time-block my day and pare down on my responsibilities.
- Batching: Group similar tasks together like answering all emails, and pitching brands. This saves me time from shifting and adjusting my mind to a new task, helps me to stay focused and boost efficiency.
- Limiting Commitments: Lastly you may need to simply cut out some commitments. As mentioned above, whenever I feel overwhelmed I like to evaluate my commitments and pair down on my responsibilities. This means to ditch the things that are draining your schedule, aren’t necessarily important and prioritize the top three tasks each day.
“Success is built sequentially. It’s one thing at a time.”Gary Wkeller
Start small with easy and repeatable habits
Starting an unsustainable diet and aiming to lose 10 pounds in a month is surefire to burn your new year’s resolutions. Why are we still stuck on the mindset to go big or go home, be all in or out? The secret to making changes without burn out is to start small, establish easy habits and gradually build momentum.
You might think that small steps are a waste of time because they don’t show big results quickly, but remember “movement, not necessarily a finish line, is the new goal.” Kendra Adachi. For most things to stick, frequency matters more than quantity. This is the reason why small steps work because you are still moving without the pressure and the burnout. The smaller the step the more likely you’ll keep doing it. The more you do it, it is inevitable that it will stick. Small incremental changes will make it easier for you to stick to your goals and increase the likelihood of long-term success.
If your goal is to be an author, don’t aim to write a book in one month, write 500 words per day. If you want to lose weight, don’t overexert yourself at the gym on January 1st, walk for 15 minutes a day or go even smaller and do 5 sit ups each night. This year, aim to do something small, easy and consistent. So easy, you can’t say no.
“Small Steps are easy. Easy steps are sustainable. Sustainable steps keep moving. Movement, not necessarily a finish line, is the new goal.”Kendra Adachi
Review and reassess your resolutions regularly
Plan to review and reassess your goals a few times before meeting them. This is a very important step because it helps you to assess if your goals are realistic and if the steps you are taking are working. Additionally, this is an opportunity to monitor your progress and make adjustments where necessary. I also like to use this time to celebrate myself. If I made a six months goal and realized that I am on track, I would reward myself. You can set weekly, monthly or quarterly reviews. It really depends on your specific goal but a quick review is a great practice for success.
“Review your goals twice everyday in order to be focused on achieving them”Les Brown
Sticking to your new year’s resolution takes willpower. You deserve a reward. Imagine, you poured out all the work and got nothing in return, how does that make you feel? I don’t know about you but that’s a hard no for me. Reward makes you feel good and motivates you to keep going. As you accomplish steps towards your goals, make sure to reward yourself along the way. The reward does not have to be big or materialistic. I find the simple, easy to acquire rewards work best. It could be a long walk after a hard day, a bowl of ice cream after you went to the gym consistently for a week or a dream vacation. What I like to do is, when I am planning I write a reward next to each goal I set. This drives me to keep going and gives me something to look forward to in the end.
“When we give ourselves treats, we feel energized, cared for, and contented, which boosts our self-command — and self-command helps us maintain our healthy habits.”Gretchen Rubin
If you’re reading this, you’ve taken the first step to sticking to your new year’s resolution. So grab your journal, take some time to craft your SMART goals, write your success plan, start small, don’t overcommit yourself, reevaluate where necessary and most importantly be kind to yourself and celebrate along the way.
I hope that these six easy steps for sticking to your new year’s resolution were helpful to you and success will overflow into your life this year. Remember, it’s not just the end goal that matters—it’s the journey along the way.
Here is a scripture to meditate on and pray over your new year’s resolution.
“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.” – Psalm 20:4