It’s that time of year again when many people make New Years resolutions. They resolve to eat better, lose weight, save money, take up a hobby, and many others. It’s no surprise that by February or March, they have given up on their resolutions for any of countless reasons. So why are we so bad at sticking to our goals and what can we change to help accomplish them?
First of all, many goals are really just wishes people have that their circumstances were different. For instance, many people will say they have a goal to lose weight. But when asked if they’re willing to put forth the effort to diet and exercise as required to meet that goal, chances are they’re not.
One big barrier to achieving goals is the goals themselves. Many goals just don’t have the attributes needed to make them likely for one to achieve. Research suggests that if you want to set goals that you have a shot at achieving, they should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
Additionally, a couple of factors can increase your chances of sticking with your goals. First, you should put your goal in writing. The act of writing down your goal makes it real to you and will act as a reminder if you keep it somewhere you will see it each day. Next, you should create a plan for how you are going to achieve your goal. Your plan should include what you’ll do, when you’ll do it, and where you’ll do it. Finally, you need to find a way to hold yourself accountable. You can find a friend to check up on your progress, make a bet with someone that has repercussions if you fail to achieve your goal, or have incentives for reaching sub-goals.
My goal track record
I’m the worst at sticking with a goal. I will either go all in and burn out quickly or become disinterested after only a short time. Knowing this, I usually just don’t even get started with making a goal. This year, I’m going to try to use the steps above to make achievable goals and stick with them.
My first instinct of course is to over do it. I could come up with about a dozen goals that I would want to achieve. If I achieved them, they would enhance my life and make me a better, happier person. But the truth is, I just don’t have that much additional bandwidth in my life right now. It would be completely overwhelming and unachievable.
Therefore, I’m going to go with 2: a health goal and a hobby goal.
My goals for 2019
1) Exercise 3 times a week for at least 45 minutes each, every week this year.
Exercise goals seem to be the kind I attempt most often. Sometimes they fizzle out because I am too busy (easy excuse). Other times because I go too hard and end up injuring myself. Why will this time be different? Hopefully, because I’m addressing all the tools and factors mentioned above.
As opposed to an outcome goal, I have created a process goal. This gives me complete control over the outcome. An outcome goal, like lose 20 pounds, relies on factors you may not control, such as metabolism, and there is no step by step formula for success.
My plan to achieve this goal is to block out the time at the beginning of the week using my work outlook calendar. When I get the 15-minute reminder, I will head to the gym on-base and do a mix of cardio and strength training for 45 minutes.
This is a goal I just keep putting off and am excited to give myself a better chance of accomplishing it this time.
2) Write 2 blog posts a week, for the first 25 weeks this year.
I’m excited to start this goal since it involves working on my new hobby. Many people who write or blog say they find it challenging to continue to make progress and consistently publish content. Two blog posts a week over 25 weeks will be both challenging to fit into my schedule, but also a great start on my new hobby.
I’ve decided to make the duration of this goal 25 weeks because I may find that it makes sense to do more or less as I learn my process. Additionally, 50 blog posts seems like a great start to the year so I think the period of time for this goal is appropriate.
At the end of each month, I will post how I did at accomplishing my goals for that month. This will serve to hold me accountable for my progress, or lack thereof. I will also keep track of any barriers that keep trying to get in the way of me reaching my goals.
What goals will you set in 2019 and what will you do to make sure you achieve them?