Many of us make New Year’s resolutions, while some of us give up on the whole process, thanks to disappointments and derailments in the past. These tricks will help you set goals, so you achieve them!
Why our goals often fail
It’s easy to lose sight of goals, and succumb to overwhelm. Our lives are busier than ever, and many of us suffer from information overload thanks to the instant nature of technology. That’s one challenge, right out of the gate, that hinders our ability to reach our goals.
In this fast-paced world, where conversations happen over social media, email, and text rather than by voice, it’s more important than ever to take time for yourself. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in today’s society and lose sight of personal goals and resolutions.
Secondly, goals often fail because it’s difficult to break old habits and form new ones. So, it’s easy to fall back into old routines. Behavior change happens gradually, no matter your age. The neuroscience of behavior shows us this time and again.
Think about it – do you teach a toddler manners overnight? No! The same is true for adults. You’re not going to break a bad habit as soon as you set your mind to it. You should expect detours along the way.
Third, our goals fail because sometimes they’re unrealistic right out of the gate. Perhaps you asked too much of yourself in too short a period. If you’ve been there, it’s ok. If we all “Take Small Steps” to greater well-being, we can focus on what’s essential and achieve our goals. That way, we can live the life we want.
How to set S.M.A.R.T. goals
The trick to getting where you want is to set realistic goals. Lofty ones sound nice, but are they attainable? If they’re not, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
Second, what’s your timeline? What other commitments will stand in your way of meeting your deadline?
Third, plan for the unexpected, so you’re not disappointed later. When you’re setting goals, it’s critical to recognize and accept that you may get detoured at times. When you hit a roadblock, don’t beat yourself up (often for days or even longer). How about trying something new?
If you work in the corporate world, you’ve probably heard about S.M.A.R.T. Goals. These are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. While it seems like a lot of steps for one goal, meeting all these guidelines keep you on track.
For example, if you want to lose weight, a S.M.A.R.T. goal might be to lose three pounds a week. It’s specific, measurable, relevant if you’re going to improve your health, and focused on a particular timeframe which is one week.
The big question — is it achievable? Well, it depends on your starting point. Remember, I always focus on taking small steps. It’ll probably be difficult to lose three pounds a week if you’ve already lost 100 and are close to your goal weight. However, if you’re starting out on your weight loss journey, you can probably lose three pounds a week or more!
Thinking of your goals in this framework will keep you on track so you can set goals and achieve them. Plus, it will help you avoid stress. Goal setting should be a positive and happy experience.
Here’s a S.M.A.R.T. goals worksheet to work through so you can feel accomplished!
Your goals will change over time. Once you reach your first set of goals, set new ones.
How to prioritize goals
Once you know your goals, create a system for reaching them. How will you lose three pounds a week? It probably starts with changing your diet and exercising more.
Figure out a schedule or system that works for you.
That may require that you reprioritize your life. For example, if you typically spend an hour watching TV at night, you may need to trade that hour on the couch for an hour on the treadmill.
Secondly, do one thing at a time. If you’re motivated, you’ll want to reach all your goals at once but is it realistic? Probably not. Focus on one thing at a time. Science shows we’re not the greatest multi-taskers even though we think we are.
So, how do you prioritize? The late Scott Dinsmore of Live Your Legend helped people find their passion in life. He writes about Warren Buffet’s 5-step process for finding real success. And notes that most people never do this!
It starts with writing down your top 25 list of what you want. Then, pick your top 5. Forget about your other 15 because if you focus on those, even just a little bit, you’ll take away from accomplishing your top 5 goals.
It’s an important lesson from Warren Buffet – that priorities matter and maintaining your focus is essential to reaching your goals no matter how big or small they might be.
When you set priorities, you keep stress to a minimum because you’ve set up a realistic framework. You don’t want goal setting to complicate things.
As seen in the Harvard Authors’ Bookshelf of Harvard Magazine, this 5-star book provides a year’s worth of motivation, inspiration, and exercises to lower stress in your life.
Start with a S.M.A.R.T. stress relief goal and then take the tools in this book to achieve it month after month! Pick up your copy of Be Less Stressed today!
How to overcome goal challenges
Change your perspective on challenges by accepting the fact that they will happen. First, acknowledge the derailment or detour. Then, make the best of it.
See if you can identify whether something specific is triggering you to lose sight of your goal. That way, you can plan around or avoid it in the future. (This applies to any goal you have set for yourself.)
Finally, let it go! That’s the only way you can move on. Tomorrow, or even the next hour, is another chance to find your way back to your plan.
Whether your goal is to lose weight, stop smoking, or start a gratitude journal — take one step at a time. Don’t try to do too much at once. Eventually, this new behavior will be second nature, and you’ll feel good, physically and mentally. They’re small, manageable steps that will allow you to celebrate progress because success leads to more success!
What’s your goal and how will you accomplish it?