This week’s blog is all about goals. Now we’re nearly at the end of January so you might think I’m a bit late to the party but there is a reason for this; by now around 34% of people will already have given up on their new year’s resolutions.
January is always a big month for goals and resolutions. However, 80% of new years resolutions fail, the reasons people give for not sticking to a resolution can vary; setting unrealistic goals, not keeping track/forgetting about the goal or making to many goals are generally given as the top 3 reasons people give for failing to stick to their resolutions. By the end of the month 46% of people will have given up on their goals. All these statistics can seem very down heartening so lets focus on how we can ensure that our goals can bring positivity to our lives and what we can do to improve our chances of sticking to them, whenever we decide to start them.
For goals or resolutions to be impactful on our lives they need to have meaning. They need to fit with our vision and values for ourselves and our future. We often feel pressure at the start of a new year to make changes to set resolutions but this is not the best way to establish a meaningful goal that will make a lasting change.
In order reduce the negativity that can be associated with the pressure to set a new year’s goal or the feelings that come from not meeting the goal we need to carefully evaluate the goal that we want to set. How big of a goal is realistic and reasonable right now? It’s important to be kind to ourselves and rather than set a large sweeping goal that will cause us stress and become discouraging when we can’t meet it. Starting with a small goal that is easier to achieve will help to create a sense of accomplishment and positivity which can then help us to move on to another goal. For example rather than saying I need to loose 2 stone in 6 months. Create a smaller easier to manage piece of that goal; I am going to loose 6 pounds by the end of January.
It’s also important to know how you’re going to do this. Just because I say I’m going to loose 6 pounds in a month doesn’t mean I will but if I say I’m going to loose 6 pounds by January by walking once a day, having 3 vegetarian days a week and only drinking on a Saturday. It’s much more likely that I will succeed. These are what we call SMART goals (specific, measurable, realistic and time-bound).
If we’re thinking about being kinder to ourselves let’s also talk about the fact that mostly when we set goals we focus on the negative. We want to change something about ourselves; we eat to much, we’re overweight, we smoke, we need to be in a relationship. Now these may well be things that it’s important for us to change but 1) do we really want to change them? And 2) are we realistically in a place to do so right now? Wheel’s of life are something that I try to do every few months. They help me to look at the balance of my life and identify the areas that are out of kilter. This helps me to set, reset or adjust goals. Once I’ve created my wheel I then like to find the positive frame for my goal. So rather than thinking I’m unfit; I have to change that, I would therefore set a goal around spending more time outdoors; I want to increase the amount of time I walk in nature. This way I am improving my mental health by being outdoors more and working towards a larger goal of getting fitter.
Four Top Tips:
Re-evaluating your goal
It’s not only important to regularly assess and re-evaluate how you work on your goal but the goal itself. Does it still align with your vision and life style? Is it appropriate for you right now? When assessing your goals, you’ll want to start by revisiting your original goals and see which ones are still relevant. You’ll want to measure the need that you have for your goals and ask yourself if you’re still passionate about accomplishing the same things that you were when you set the goals originally. If a goal is no longer relevant or appropriate to your life it’s ok to change it.
Re-evaluating your approach
Continually re-evaluating your goals is the only way to ensure that you’re still pursuing something that’s relevant and important to you. Often, as you or your circumstances grow and change, your goals and priorities change too. This doesn’t mean your life has in some way been derailed; it just means that as we go through life changes occur and your goals and approach need to be adjusted accordingly. For example if my goal is to loose weight by exercising every night and I had planned to go to the gym 2 hours every evening but then my shifts change at work this may not be possible and I therefore need to change this element of my goal. If you create a smart goal you will also create steps or techniques to help you to achieve it. Sometimes when we plan out a goal these can seem like a good way of doing things but when we come to apply this it doesn’t work, on other occasions as mentioned our circumstances change. What ever the way of it, it’s always a good idea to continually re-evaluate and make sure that your approach is still the most effective one to take.
Re-evaluate your timing
SMART goals should have a time element, whether that’s a month, 6 months or a year, make sure that it’s working for you. Is the timeline that you’ve created for yourself still feasible? There’s nothing wrong with making some adjustments to help you better succeed. Often, our struggle to reach our goals comes down to an issue with timing. In some cases, you might need to slow things down at certain points in your life, while at other points you may be able to breeze on through. This isn’t a race—it’s about reaching your goals in a timely fashion and feeling good about it on the way.
It’s not only good to keep your goals small and simple but to also break them down into a simple time line what will you do each week, each month? Having simple steps to achieve in a short space of time will help to keep you on track and feel successful. In order for goals to have a positive impact they shouldn’t feel like an arbitrary thing you’re striving towards on the distant horizon but about living a life that is fulfilled and positive where your goals fit in seamlessly.
Continually evaluating your goals will help you to ensure that you’re on-track and pursuing goals that are worth your time and effort.