How many times have you heard ‘New Year, New You’?
The New Year is often a time for reflection- what went well? What went wrong? What have you learned? And perhaps most importantly, where do you go now?
You probably listen to your family or friends or colleagues back at work discussing their decisions to do better next year. Whether that’s losing weight, taking up a new hobby, travelling more or saving money.
But I urge people to indeed use this time for self-reflection and use it to set proper, measurable and achievable goals, not to make desperate resolutions on a whim just because it’s the time of year that everyone does.
You’re more likely to achieve goals than stick to resolutions because we see them as long-term commitments, and they’re a reflection of our actual desires and ambitions. They dive deeper than a resolution, so we tend to take a more practical and realistic approach to achieving them.
Your goals should be specific – nothing general like losing weight. Instead, ask yourself how much weight do you want to lose? And when do you see yourself achieving your ideal weight? It’s important to be realistic and give yourself enough time to achieve it. Making SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-sensitive) gives you the tools to succeed in all of your goal-setting endeavours.
Tips to Setting SMART Goals
Write your goals down. This helps you to visualise them. How will they look when you have achieved what you’re setting out to achieve? How will they feel? This will also work as a motivator to keep going when things get more difficult, or your life ultimately gets busier. It will remind you that this was once very important for you to achieve. It also demonstrates a commitment in hard copy. How many times have you said something to yourself like ‘I’ll go to the gym tonight’ or ‘I’m going to join my local theatre group next week’ and you don’t do it. Well, you don’t have to. No one else is going to push you to do it, and most of us are notorious for going back on what we’ve said, especially if no one has been around to hear us and hold us accountable.
Stop comparing yourself. Isn’t it easy to look at your friends or even people you went to school with long ago and think about how much more successful they are than you with a better job, a bigger salary, a family, a spouse? It is practically unavoidable too with social media giving us instant, constant updates and multiplying the number of people we’re exposed to. Feeling envious or bitter or down about your own progress is a complete waste of energy and time that you could be putting into your self-improvement. It is vital to remember that whilst we might all have similar goals, we all have different journeys, and that is the beauty of life. Wouldn’t it be boring if we all experienced everything at the exact same time? Life is unexpected and unpredictable, and just because you might accomplish something later in life, it does not make you a failure.
On the subject of failure, it is important to embrace the likelihood of failing. Failure is often necessary for success as we learn and grow as a result of it, improving ourselves each time. Failing at your goals might cause you to readjust them or to gain an insight or idea you might never have had before. Failure also makes us more resilient which is a key skill that is relied upon to bounce back and prosper in the wake of defeat.
Enjoy it. Although we make goals because we want to alter a part of our lives, it doesn’t mean that you should despise where you are right now. Celebrate every part of your journey – from deciding to make that goal in the first place, all the small victories along the way, and eventually achieving it. It does you no good to force yourself into doing something when you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.
To keep things enjoyable, remember that whatever your goals are, they are only aspects of your life. Never put your whole life on hold as you try to pursue something huge in a small period of time. Continue to live your life the way you want to but dedicate a proportion of your resources towards achieving your goals. And remember to take each day as it comes. Celebrate the small steps you’re making to success- whether your jeans fit a bit looser each day or you manage to save 10% of what you’re aiming for. It’s all part of achieving the big one at the end.
If you think you could benefit from some help in clarifying your goals and how to go about achieving them, my Talk to Carole sessions may well be helpful to you. These are online 30-minute confidential coaching sessions where you will receive an objective viewpoint and another perspective.
Happy New Year and good luck with your goals!