The Best Advice For Making Resolutions You'll Actually Stick To!
It’s a tale as old as time, right? Set a goal, channel some legit motivated energy, and then… burnout by spring. Here’s the thing: there’s an actual art to setting and meeting your new year’s resolutions – or any sort of goal, for that matter. For the best approach, we asked a couple pros to share tips and tricks that’ll set you on the path toward personal victory.
Why Setting Personal Goals is Important
If you’re in the “why goals, tho?” camp, we hear you. You’re living your best life, right, so why bother with messing with the status quo? Turns out, setting personal goals is pretty crucial to improving upon yourself and feeling like you’re living with more purpose.
“Setting goals keeps us healthy. [Doing so] provides an anchor should life nudge us off course, and it also provides a chance to fulfill our duty to others and to ourselves to explore things we’ve been interested in and make sacrifices and challenge ourselves for a better life tomorrow,” says Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist based in New York City.
Basically, without goals we don’t really have much to strive for – we’re stagnant. Dr. Hafeez says this can ultimately impact our physical and mental health. Why allow yourself to feel stuck when there’s a world in front of you to conquer?
How to Effectively Make and Meet Your Goals
Feeling motivated? Let’s do this!
Set a Quantifiable Goal
The idea here is to be ultra-specific about a certain goal versus making a nebulous, shiftable resolution. For example, instead of saying, “I’m going to read more books this year!” you’ll fare better by saying, “I’m going to read eight books in 2021!” Or maybe you say, “I’m going to make three new recipes a month” instead of “I’m going to experiment with cooking.”
“This strategy works because you can easily track it. “[Plus], the more progress you see yourself making, the more you will continue. Get specific with the outcome you want,” explains Colene Eldridge, a life and leadership coach, author, and motivational speaker.
Establish a Path Forward
Knowing your end-goal is great, but figuring out how to get there is what’s really going to set you up for success. This is especially important if you find yourself easily overwhelmed by goals, or if you often struggle to see the finish line.
“This means focusing on the journey, so you learn to find joy in marching towards the direction you want your life to go,” says Dr. Hafeez. “So instead of ‘I want to drop 50 pounds this year,’ stipulate, ‘I will be going to the gym four times a week, eating healthy six days a week, with a cheat meal on the seventh day.’”
In that sense, it’s more about an overall shift in lifestyle. And it can apply to many different goals, including financial, interpersonal, and career. Have faith that the celebratory ribbon is ahead but focus more on the path forward.
Get Yourself an Accountability-Buddy
“Gretchen Rubin has a great book called The Four Tendencies, which focuses on how we handle internal and external expectations,” says Eldridge. “The majority of people are ‘obligers,’ meaning if they have an external commitment – versus a commitment made to oneself – [then] they will more than likely show up.”
In other words, it’s not a lack of willpower. Our human brains are just wired this way! Having external accountability is supremely helpful when setting goals. This might be an accountability-buddy who checks in with you once or twice a week, or maybe it’s a life coach, trainer, financial advisor, or your partner helping you stay on track.
For even more success, Dr. Hafeez recommends choosing a buddy who shares the same goals as you.
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Ask Yourself “Why?” Five Times
Many of us create goals that seem like a good idea, but that we ultimately just don’t really care about. Maybe we set it because it seems like the right thing to do, or everyone else is doing the same thing. Not really feeling a goal makes it way easier to abandon it. What’s worse, you’re potentially throwing your energy into something that’s not super meaningful to you when you could be channeling real progress elsewhere.
“When you really are in alignment with your goals, and they have meaning to you, it makes a huge difference in your commitment,” says Eldridge. “Ask yourself why you want this goal at least five times. See how deep it connects with you. If we go back to the book example, why do you want to read eight books? What will that do for you? Who will you be after you read those books? Get to a deeper understanding of your motivation.”
Another way to think about it: maybe you *do* want to achieve a certain goal but you haven’t figured out why, exactly. Really connecting with that “why” will motivate you more deeply.
Keep Your Goal Top-of-Mind
Did you know that by mid-January, roughly half of people have already forgotten their New Year’s Resolutions? That’s partly because people haven’t effectively set and aligned themselves with meeting their goals. It’s also because priorities shift and it’s easy to simply forget.
“Write your top three goals daily [to keep it at the] front of your mind,” advises Eldridge. “What you focus on expands space in your brain. [When] I write my top three goals every morning, it puts me in the right frame of mind for the day and keeps me focused.”
Whatever your goals are for 2021 and beyond, we wish you massive success. Follow this advice, and you’ll certainly be rolling past the finish line like it ain’t no thing.