Did you know that according to research by the University of Scranton, 92 percent of people that set New Year’s goals never actually achieve them? If you’re like me you’ve started the year with good intentions declaring things like, “I’m going to save more money!” or “I’m going to lose 10 pounds!” You even join a gym or buy that expensive elliptical machine and start exercising until your muscles ache. Then as time goes on you get busy with shuttling the kids back and forth from soccer practice, tackling additional projects at work, and before you know it those resolutions get thrown right out the window. Suddenly the excitement has worn off and your new elliptical machine becomes a clothes rack. Now that a new year is upon us, I want to share some valuable tips that will actually help you to not only identify but achieve your goals this year. Go get ‘em!
Tip #1: Keep It Simple
The biggest mistake people make when coming up with resolutions is biting off more than they can chew. A more realistic approach is to keep your goals simple and achievable. For example, if you’re a size 12 and you want to be a size 4 in three months, you might be setting yourself up for failure. Remember, it’s better to succeed at a smaller, more manageable goal than to fail at a larger one. “Setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on January 1 can help you reach whatever it is you strive for,” says psychologist Lynn Bufka, PhD. “Remember, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change is important and working toward it, one step at a time.” By making your goals more realistic, there’s a greater chance that you will accomplish them.
Tip #2: Develop Keystone Habits
Author Charles Duhigg addressed keystone habits in his book, “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business”. Duhigg describes a keystone habit as a single habit that produces a positive, chain effect. One example could be exercising regularly. This is a habit that can not only benefit your body but may also trigger you to start eating better. People who exercise also tend to have increased patience, less stress, and are more productive at work. So essentially the keystone habit, exercising regularly, creates a rippling effect that generates positive results in many areas of your life. Other examples of keystone habits are meditating, planning out your days, waking up earlier, and developing daily routines.
Tip #3: Create SMART Goals
Would you go hiking in the wilderness without a map or a GPS to guide you? That’s what you’re doing when you don’t set clear goals. Essentially, you want to follow the SMART goal methodology: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Rather than saying, “I’m going to lose weight”, change the goal to, “I’m going to lose 10 pounds by October 31st “. This way you have a goal that is measurable with a specific timeframe attached to it. This can also pertain to starting a business. Instead of saying, “I want to start a business this year”, commit to something more specific like, “I’m going to start a digital marketing business by November 30th.” Once you have your SMART goals, put them in writing and verbalize them to people around you. This will help you stay committed and focused on what you’re trying to achieve. As Brian Tracy says, “Goals in writing are dreams with deadlines.”
Tip #4: Celebrate Small Wins
According to Oprah Winfrey, “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” Imagine having a goal that’s going to take you 6, 9 or even 12 months to complete. If you don’t celebrate small milestones along the way, you are going to lose the motivation and drive to continue. So, the key is not to tie how you feel to the end result but to the progress that you are making along the way. The better you feel about yourself and your progress, the more likely it is that you will continue to put in the work that will help you reach your goal. Some ways that you can reward yourself include getting yourself a small gift, doing something that you enjoy, or just sharing your victories with others.
Tip #5: Break it Down
Have you ever had a big goal that scared you because it seemed unattainable? Do your New Year’s resolutions leave you feeling overwhelmed? The most effective way to reach a long-term goal is to break it down into smaller chunks. Start with the long-term goal, let’s say, “start a digital marketing business by November 30th” and break it down into medium and short-term goals. For example, a medium-term goal could be saving 6 months of living expenses. A short-term goal is something you can accomplish more readily, like researching the market and your niche. Make sure all of these smaller goals have specific timeframes attached to them so that you can hold yourself accountable. Remember, if you take one small step each day, you will get closer and closer to what you hope to achieve.
Achieving your goals is possible, it just takes clarity, commitment and strategies like these to help you stay the course. Finally, don’t forget to find a support system that you can lean on during this time. Whether it’s a friend, family member, coach or mentor, having people around you that can cheer you on along the way can make all the difference.