It’s time for New Year’s Resolutions, which means it’s time for at least 127,000,000 people in America to set a goal that they will ultimately fail.
Only 8% of New Year’s Resolutions succeed, and there are plenty of reasons for that, but I’m not going to go into most of them here. Today I just want to let you know how I set goals and keep them manageable:
1. Focus on the habits you need to build/change to reach your goals
First off, don’t worry so much about the end goal. Want to lose 10 pounds? Great, but a goal like “I want to lose 10 pounds” is too abstract because it doesn’t tell you how you’ll get there. Rather than saying, “I want to lose 10 pounds,” over and over, make a resolution to stick to 2 new healthy habits that will help get you there. For example, track your calories every day for three months, or walk 8000 steps per day. Habits are sustainable, long-term things that help you reach your goals.
2. Year-long goals are too big
Use smaller chunks of time. I like 6 to 12 week chunks of time for most of my goal-setting. There’s plenty of debate over how long it takes to build a new habit, but if you’re focused on a really long length of time to reach a goal, you’ll keep putting it off. If it’s too short, you’ll fail and get discouraged.
3. Only chase habits that you know you could actually do consistently
You can starve yourself to lose weight, but it won’t stay off. Similarly, you shouldn’t run a marathon by trying to run 20 miles in your first week off the couch. Focus on small, incremental change, and as you build confidence set larger and larger goals for forming new habits.
4. Limit the number of goals you set at once.
When people rattle off 10 things they want to do for their New Year’s Resolution, I have to be skeptical. Never try to build more than 3 or 4 new habits at once.
That may discourage you if you have a lot of things to improve, but it’s okay. Just remember that small, sustainable steps are the best way forward.
Photo by Natasha Mileshina on flickr.com