Let’s talk goals for 2021! Whether we’re breaking out an unmarked calendar or simply scrolling to the month of January, there is always a sense of new beginnings and fresh starts when we begin the year again on January 1st. We make resolutions, set goals and wait for the clock to strike midnight before we take off in a full sprint toward them. Yet, it’s too often that we take off too quickly toward change that we neglect conditioning ourselves for long-lasting improvement.
- Write your goals down and review them regularly.
Study after study shows you will remember things better when you write them down. Vividly describing your goals in written form is strongly associated with goal success, and people who very vividly describe or picture their goals are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals than people who don’t. That’s a pretty big difference in goal achievement just from writing your goals on a piece of paper (Forbes). Write your goals down and put them in your daily path so that you will be continually reminded you of what you’ve promised to yourself. Tape them to your bathroom mirror, on the fridge. Take a photo or your goals or create a phone wallpaper and computer screensaver that reminds you of them.
- Create goals that suit different areas of your life.
It may be important to you to save more or procrastinate less, but be careful not to neglect the other areas of your life as well. Try to categorize them and create a small attainable goal within each area (i.e. relationships, work, spiritual, mental health, fitness, finance, family, intellect).
- Set goals that are realistic and attainable.
Of course it’s important to shoot for the stars and call your abilities beyond yourself, but make sure you are setting goals that can be maintained and achieved within twelve months. So, instead of setting immeasurable goals, focus on framing your resolutions as smaller goals that can be achieved reasonably with minor modifications in habit and routine. I will pay $25 a week toward my debt. Instead of, I will pay off my debt. I will replace my nighttime snack of a bowl of ice cream with sugar free pudding. Instead of, I will lose weight. I will revise my resume and apply to two jobs each week. Instead of, I will get a new job.
- Make goals that are measurable.
It’s important to be able to note measurable progress to verify you are on the right track toward your goals. The most efficient way to do this is by setting goals that can be measured over short periods of time. I’ll sit at the table with my children for breakfast at least five mornings a week. Instead of, I’ll make more time for my family. I’ll invite one friend out for coffee every other Wednesday evening. Instead of, I’ll be better at keeping in touch with friends. I’ll straighten the house for 15 minutes every day after dinner. Instead of I’ll keep my house cleaner.
- Consider an accountability partner.
One of the main reason New Year resolutions are so hard to complete is because they’re hard to keep and no one but you will notice if you give one or more of them up. So, take precautionary action to prevent doing it alone. Set up goals that involve teaming up with a friend, colleague, or your spouse to accomplish together. You’re also likely to have more fun when working alongside another and less likely to give up if someone else is counting on you.