(and what to do for success)
Get out of the resolutions Groundhog Day cycle and finally create amazing goals that make you come alive.
At the end of each year, there’s a swell of desire to make positive changes in the coming year. For many people, it’s a desire to live a healthier lifestyle or to lose some unwanted weight. Others have career or business dreams of expansion or ladder-climbing. Maybe it’s a trip to a bucket-list destination or saving up the deposit for your first house.
But do you often find that you set the same resolutions each year? Or maybe you’re someone who has given up the idea of New Year’s resolutions after failing to achieve them one too many times.
If this is you, then you’re in the right place, my friend. In this post, I’ll uncover three reasons why New Year’s resolutions don’t work and four things you can do instead. Let’s dive in!
3 reasons why New Year’s resolutions don’t work
1. They’re pipe dreams
Perhaps the biggest reason why resolutions don’t materialise is because they’re just dreams. Now, there’s nothing wrong with dreams. I recommend everyone to dream and to do it often. But if dreams don’t turn into more than that, ie. an action plan to achieve your dream, then they’ll just remain dreams. Pipe dreams.
And it’s so sad to see this happen because so many people have grand dreams of wonderful achievements, experiences and transformations. But until they take the next step of turning those dreams into a goal with a deadline and an action plan, their dreams don’t become their realities.
I don’t want this to happen to you. Read on for some fixes to this problem below.
2. They’re soon forgotten
Another reason resolutions don’t work is because they’re quickly forgotten. How often do we set resolutions on January 1st and by February, we’ve completely rolled into our regular routine of doing things? We may have skipped a day or two and before you know it, we’re back where we started.
Nothing changes. No transformations occur. And no goals are achieved.
Those kind of resolutions are easily forgotten because we lose our connection with why they matter or because we failed to review them regularly enough. But don’t worry, there’s a fix for that!
3. They’re overwhelming
Another reason resolutions don’t work is because they’re overwhelming. Dropping 3.5 stones (or 50 pounds) might sound great for your summer holiday in Ibiza. But unless you have an actionable plan where you can take small baby steps every step of the way to get you there, that 50 pounds may as well be 1000.
The solution to resolutions
There is a way to turn your New Year’s resolutions into actionable achievable goals. Here’s how;
1. Create goals, not resolutions
A goal has a deadline. And a good goal has a few more qualities too. I like Michael Hyatt’s acronym SMARTER to help me create goals that are more achievable. Here’s how his acronym works.
S – make your goal specific.
Vagueness is the top reason I mentioned above why resolutions don’t work. You need a crystal clear destination of what you want to achieve.
M – make your goal measurable.
How will you know that you achieved your goal? How will you know whether you’ve taken action toward your goal? What will you measure to know that you’re making progress?
A – it’s action-oriented.
This means that it starts with a ‘doing‘ verb rather than a ‘being‘ verb. Doing verbs like ‘run’, ‘write’, ‘fold’, ‘drink’ etc. give a clear specific action. Whereas the verb ‘be‘ is not as clear.
For example, ‘be a better parent’ is quite vague. Until you clarify some specific actions you can do that will help you become a better parent, you’ll be walking through the valley of vagueness with your goal!
R – your goal is risky.
It’s outside of your comfort zone. This is important because if your goal felt so easy that you could do it in your sleep, then it’s not really a goal. It’s just normal life.
Goals, by nature, are aspirational. They’re things we haven’t yet reached or achieved, but desire to have or get to. They’re outside of normal. And so, they should create a tinge of fear.
By the way, this kind of fear is a good sign. It means you’ll be pushing yourself which is what you want for a good goal.
T – it’s time-keyed.
That’s just another way of saying it has a deadline. Or if it’s a habit goal, then there’s a specific number of repetitions you’ll do before you consider your habit fully installed or second-nature.
E – it’s exciting.
Your goal needs to personally excite you and pull you towards completion. Red flags should go up if you’re setting a goal because someone else thinks you should. Or if you’re creating a goal because it’s what you think would be a smart thing to do for your age/role/financial bracket etc.
This is your life, my friend. Make goals that personally excite you. If you don’t, you’ll end up giving up on that goal and just wasting weeks or months of your life trying to achieve something you didn’t really want in the first place. Life’s too short for that!
R – it’s relevant for your season of life.
We all go through different seasons of life. The goals a mum with a newborn has will look different from myself (a mother with three kids at home). And my goals will look different from a single woman or even an empty nester.
The trick here is to not copy ‘The Jones’. Just because your girlfriend is planning her trip to Bali, doesn’t mean that you need to start planning your Eastern Asia tour when you’re still trying to pay off those hefty credit cards. You’ll come back from Thailand looking at your credit card bill and begin lamenting your trip.
There’s nothing wrong with having a goal that will cost money to achieve. But those goals are far sweeter when you’re not stung by the cost of them. Have a goal that suits your season and not your friend’s season of life.
2. Connect your goal with your long term life vision and think about it often!
If you fall off the resolution banner early in the year, it’s likely you don’t have a deep connection with your goal. This could be because it’s a fad goal – everybody’s going to the gym, so it’ll be nice to have some mates on the treadmill too. Or because you haven’t connected it with your long-term vision for your life and therefore, the motivation doesn’t run deep enough to push you through the ‘slump period’.
The question then is, do you have a long-term vision for your life? Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? And is the goal you’re creating going to help you to get there?
When our goals are milestones along the journey towards our ideal futures, it helps us form a deep motivation to achieve our goals and keep them front and centre.
We can more easily push through difficult periods when we see how we’ll benefit from achieving our goal. And what’s at stake if we don’t.
A good practice is to review your goal daily, or at least once a week. Any less than that and you’ll run the risk of losing your connection with your goal and your long-term vision.
3. Break your goal down into achievable actionable next steps
This is the powerhouse to transforming your overwhelming New Year’s resolutions. Once you’ve outlined your goal to the SMARTER framework above and are sure that it aligns with the long-term vision for your life, you’ll need to break your goal into small achievable actions.
The crucial point here is that your actions or tasks are very small. Like ridiculously easy, small.
And the good thing about this is that you don’t need to know all the actions you need to do to get you to your goal. You just need to know the next few actions.
As long as you can identify the next few tasks to get you closer to your goal each week, you’ll be fine.
If you want to make positive changes in the coming year, don’t set resolutions. Create SMARTER goals that are connected to your long-term vision and list out the next few tiny actions you can take to get you moving toward your goal.
It’s not overly complicated. But it does require you to review your goals regularly (daily or weekly) to make sure you keep them front and centre until they are achieved.
And make sure you sign up below to hear about the launch of our goal setting course so you can snag an amazing discount when we launch!
Go and create some awesome goals, my friend!