Every new year, most of us make a mental note of things we’d like to achieve in the new year. The lure of a new start and a new chapter with each new year that rolls around leaves up filled with hope that this year will be the one that we finally get it together and achieve goals that have been eluding us.
So why is it that by the third week of the new year, so many have already shelved their resolutions? A big part of effecting real change in one’s life is taking the time to build better habits. It is surprisingly challenging to adopt new ones or give-up deeply ingrained bad ones.
And whilst it shows a great sense of positive intent to make your annual list of new year’s resolutions, a far better approach would be to set goals that you work towards achieving over a longer period of time, rather than striving to make drastic changes immediately.
SO HOW DOES ONE GO ABOUT SETTING GOALS?
Allow for some degree of flexibility
Firstly, take a moment to assess and analyze what your objectives are. Are they fixed and rigid or is there room for some flexibility? Whilst it is important to make your goals specific, it is equally important to allow for a degree of fluidity. After all, life happens. And when it does, by making an allowance for some flexibility around your goal, will go a long way to keeping you on the road to working towards achieving it. This is especially true if your goals require big lifestyle changes. So, for example if your resolution has been to “Stop eating junk food”, it might be worth considering adjusting the goal to “Replacing one junk meal with a healthy option”. By breaking down a lofty resolution to smaller, more manageable goals makes the baby steps required to achieve them all the more doable.
This will also help in fostering a sense of achievement when the smaller milestones are reached, as opposed to the overwhelming sense of failure if you find yourself reaching for the cookie jar after dinner.
Are you finding that the resolutions that you set are consistently just too difficult to achieve? If a goal requires too much of a change, there is a pretty good chance it is going to be dropped and forgotten about within a week or two. In setting achievable goals, it is important to be honest with yourself about whether your goals are realistically achievable. Positive reinforcement is a great motivator for most of us, and the more you achieve, the more you want to keep going, so it’s vital to set goals that are actually attainable.
Keep a future-focus
Another aspect of goal setting is to think of the future. Your short-term goals need to be aligned to and supportive of your long-term objectives. Your goals ultimately need to bring you closer to the life you want to live in the future, which will also increase the likelihood of you continuing to work towards reaching them.
Adopt a positive perspective
Mindset is everything when it comes to achieving success. Cultivating a positive outlook starts with the language or words you use when determining your goals. Focus on what you are adding to your life rather than what you are removing and develop goals that will motivate and inspire you.
Change is a slow process and doesn’t happen overnight. But with consistency and perseverance over time you can create real, long-lasting changes in any aspect of your life.