It is that time of year again when many people are contemplating New Year resolutions. The holidays have passed and a new year is upon us. Many people use this as an ideal time to change things in their lives that they are unhappy with. Losing weight is a popular one. Something to keep in mind is that while resolutions can be helpful, they can also be incredibly vague or unattainable. These are the reasons that they so often fail.
When looking ahead to the new year, it is great to reflect on the things that you want to change. Starting off with resolutions is helpful in learning what you hope to accomplish. Many people stop there, but this is where a plan and goal-setting can increase your odds of success.
Reasons to set goals instead of resolutions
- More specific
Resolutions tend to be large goals, such as losing 30 pounds or writing a book. While it is great to have big dreams, you need a specific plan for how to get there. This is where goal-setting can be really helpful. With goal-setting you can list out specific changes and ways to reach your goals. Setting goals can help you be more specific in your intention.
- Bite-sized pieces
Resolutions can be very intimidating since they are usually large life changes. It can be difficult to know where to start. By breaking down your goals into smaller pieces, you can come up with a plan. I set goals for each month and each week. Then, I will adjust daily goals depending on how things go that day. Sometimes life and kids will shift your plans and you can always change things slightly to make sure you still get there.
- More attainable with a plan
Your resolutions and large goals will be easier to accomplish with a plan in place. I am a big advocate for making a plan and making lists. Lists help me get myself organized and remember everything that I need to do. I am able to break everything down, so I know exactly how I am going to get things done. When you have huge dreams, it can be hard to see how you are going to get there. It is important to set smaller goals on your way to the larger goals. You will be able to plan exactly how you are going to get there.
How to start
- With a resolution
Think of all of the things that you want to accomplish this year. Then, write them down. This practice will help you organize and see what things are most important to you. You have a lot of time to work with, so make sure to think of different things you want to achieve during the year. You may want to set goals for different areas of your life. These goals can be both professional and personal. Keep in mind not to overextend yourself. It can be easy to get overwhelmed with so many goals. You can always adjust as you go through the year. That will be a big part of your success. You need to be realistic and give yourself a break when needed. Things do not always go according to plan, so the ability to readjust will help you toward your most important goals.
- Break it down into monthly goals
Before the beginning of each month, I make a list of all of the things that I need to do or want to accomplish that month. I also put things on my calendar. Having them in both places helps remind me and keep things top-of-mind. I much prefer working ahead whenever I can. Planning well will help reduce the stress of deadlines. You need to give yourself enough time to get things done and extra time in case something derails your plan.
- Go week by week
At the beginning of each week, I also plan out what I need to do that week. This plan includes what emails I need to follow-up on and on which days. I usually write these emails ahead of time, so they are ready to go when I need them. I try to include everything that I need to do in my weekly plan. These things also include personal things, such as working out or things that I am planning with the kids.
- Make daily plans
I also make plans for each day and adjust them as needed. Some days I do not get everything done that I planned. I then move things around in the week to make sure I still get to what I need to. Flexibility is key in getting things done.
- Adjust as needed
As I mentioned above, flexibility is necessary when you are working toward your goals. Life inevitably gets in the way. Maybe the kids were harder to deal with one day or maybe you were tired. Maybe other things took priority. Things like that will happen and you need to adjust. This does not mean that you slack off on your goals, but just give yourself some understanding. Do not use excuses to get out of doing work. If something is really important to you, you will find the time to do it. If you are constantly missing your smaller goals, reevaluate them. Maybe they are not what you really want. You can always go back and find something that you care about more.
Many times people will fail when they make resolutions. They may be taking on too much or they may have no idea how to reach their large goals. Take a step back to plan, make smaller goals and keep on top of your dreams. These things will give you the best chance of success. If you are unhappy, maybe you have not chosen the right things. Look back at your resolutions and find the ones that matter the most. If you do not care enough, you will not reach them. Chase your dreams and make a plan. If you do, you are more likely to accomplish them.