It's that time of year again. The gym is absolutely packed, liquor sales are down, and everyone is starting a new book club. However, we all also understand the feeling of setting New Year's resolutions rather than actually doing them.
Let's talk about the basics of setting good New Year Resolutions and what you can do to achieve your goals.
Start by setting good goals
What's a good goal? Quite often, your resolutions probably sound like a general statement i.e. read more, run more, or drink less. While the intent is clear on what you would like to work on, it's not very clear what exactly the goal is. Bringing in more detail to your goals will help you not only accomplish them, but measure your success and give you ideas on how you can accomplish them.
Using the SMART goals model, you can turn these intentions into good measurable goals.
- Read more → read 2 books a month
- Run more → Run a half marathon by the end of this year
- Drink less → Drink alcohol less than 1 times per week
While the intention is still the same, adding a small bit of detail makes these goals much clearer. By saying "read 2 books a month" you know exactly how much you should be reading to accomplish your goal of "read more."
How to stay consistent with your goals
The hardest part about achieving your New Year's Resolutions is sticking to it. We often give up after a few weeks. The key to accomplishing any type of goal you have is consistency.
Dreams without goals are just dreams. Ultimately, they fuel disappointment. On the road to achieving your dreams, you must apply discipline, but more importantly, consistency. Because without commitment, you'll never start; without consistency, you'll never finish.
— Denzel Washington
Quite often, this is not because we're lazy or weak or give up on things easily. It's usually because we're busy and only sometimes thinking about this. Work gets crazy; family comes to visit, and you catch a cold. Every day, a million things in our lives need our attention, and it's easy to forget about your goals.
This is normal, and no one is asking you to make your New Year's Resolution the only thing that matters in your life. However, there are ways to stay consistent and not forget about your goals. It takes a few healthy habits to develop and you'll be able to carry on with your life while still keeping up your goals.
Set frequent reminders to stay on track
Start by setting a reminder every week to reflect on your progress. Keep a calendar or a planner to jot down your progress every week. It can be a 5-minute process to help you remember to stay on top of your goals. Over time, you can look back on your log and see your progress.
Guillaume Thomas uses Tability to do just this. While the tool is aimed to help with business goals and OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), the core theories are essentially the same. Create clear measurable goals and create good consistent habits to complete them.
What Tability does is it helps him stay consistent by setting those weekly reminders for him, and by giving him a place to reflect on every week.
Keep track of progress so you have a history to look back on
In this example, he posted that he completed 100% of his goal to run 130 km in 3 months. Tracking his progress over time and weekly helped him understand how to achieve his goal and stay consistent with it. When he saw himself slowing down, it gave him the understanding that he needed to push harder or make up for it the following week. Seeing a beginning, middle and end to your journey allows you to create a story of how you got there and the challenges you faced a long the way.
Tability also helps Guillaume create visuals for his journey so that he can reflect on it and share with his friends and colleagues too.
Sharing progress builds accountability
It's important to share your New Year's Resolution with friends. Two reasons: Accountability, and celebrations!
You're working hard and people want to hear about your successes and learnings. Sharing with your friends can bring a great feeling of pride when things are going well.
When things are going badly, you should still share. It doesn't feel great to tell your friends that you're not achieving your goals, but that's what creates the urgency to do it in the first place. You should accomplish your goals for you, but to have people rooting for you gives you a sense of accountability that is hard to give yourself all the time.
Accomplishing your dreams is possible
It's always easier said than done, but that's what you say when you don't believe in yourself. The truth is, anything you believe is worth achieving will be hard to achieve but even harder if you don't give yourself the right mindset and tools to start your goal to begin with. If you set good goals, measure and track them, and stay consistent you can accomplish anything you want in this new year.