How to Set and Achieve New Year’s Resolutions and Every Other Goal?

The New Year is a fresh start for many to change in their lives.

They would make a list of resolutions that not many seem to keep.

In fact, data from the University of Scranton notes that 45% of us make resolutions, but only 8% of those resolution makers actually achieve their goals.

One of the main reasons for such a high failure rate is that people don’t set a strategy to reach those goals.

Below are some common resolutions and how to reach those goals.

  1. Exercise more
  2. Lose weight
  3. Eat healthier food
  4. Learn a new language or skill
  5. Get out of debt
  6. Reach financial independence
  7. Quit a bad habit (smoking, arriving late, procrastinating, scrolling down social media, watching too much TV…)
  8. Build a good habit (waking up early, meditation…)
  9. Spend more time with family and friends
  10. Find your significant other
  11. Reduce stress in your life
  12. Travel more
  13. Read more
  14. Become happier with your life
  15. Volunteer and give more to charity

Today you’re going to learn proven ways that will help you set goals and achieve them.

Ready? Let’s jump right in!

#1. Mentally Prepare For Change

Making a change is no easy task.

You’ll have to make sacrifices and feel uncomfortable before it gets any better.

That’s why you need to prepare yourself mentally and keep in mind that any discomfort you might feel, is only part of the process and that eventually, it’ll get better.

In other words, be willing to delay instant gratifications for the greater reward.

Related: How To Embrace Change: 5 Things You Need to Start Doing To Become A Better Person

#2. Set SMART Goals

Whatever goal you’re setting make sure it checks all the SMART goal setting framework:

• Specific – make the goal as clear and specific as possible.

“Eating healthier” could be set in a more specific way like “eating less junk food”, or “eating more vegetables and fruits”.

• Measurable – Quantify your goal if possible, i.e. I will save $2.000 this year.

• Attainable – Your goal should be challenging enough yet within the realm of possibility.

If you’re in debt, maybe don’t set “making 1m dollar this year” as a goal.

• Relevant – Keep it personal. Your goal should be something you’re doing for yourself and not to please others.

Often, people set goals that are only meant to please others like their parents, spouse, or even society in general.

So they might end up having a career they don’t like just to please their parents for example.

• Time-sensitive – In addition to quantifying your goal, give yourself a time-frame to achieve your goals like setting a goal for this year or even this month.

#3. Make a Step-by-Step Plan

Successful people break their overall goal into a series of sub-goals.

This helps them overcome the fear and hesitation associated with trying to take on a major change in life. They make sure that their sub-goals are specific, measurable, and time-bounded.

For example, if someone who is looking for a job, a successful plan can be broken into two steps. First, write a résumé. Second, apply for new job every week for the next three months.

#4. Write Down Your Goals

You’ll be amazed at what difference writing your goals make.

Writing your goals down helps you clarify your goal and figure out how to achieve it.

In fact, seeing your goal written on a piece of paper or on your computer makes it more real to you.

#5. Tell Others About Your Goal

While keeping your resolutions to yourself can help ease the fear of failure, it also makes it too easy to give up and drift back to your old habits.

This is why successful people are more likely than others to tell their family, friends, and colleagues about their goals. Going public will help you stick to your promises and goals and the greater the public declaration, the more motivated you become to achieve your goals.

At the same time, family and friends can provide much-needed support when you start feeling demotivated.

#6. Take It One Goal At A Time

It’s okay to set a long list of goals and resolutions. But when working on those goals, make sure your list is manageable.

In other words, take it one goal at a time depending on what’s most important to you.

Here’s a way to help you prioritize your goals:

• Write down each of your goals on a different sticky note.

• Place these notes on a wall or a board.

• Group similar goals (such as exercising more, eating healthier food and losing weight).

• Put the most important goals or group of goals at the top and go from there.

Related: How to Make Good Habits Stick: 9 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Build Good Habits

#7. Start Small

One of the reasons why people fail to reach their goals is because they set unrealistic goals and make big changes at once.

But it’s the small achievements that are going to keep you going and make room for bigger achievements.

That’s one of the reasons why experts are recommending starting your day with making your bed.

Here are a few tips to help you make your massive goal achievable:

• Divide your goal into sub-tasks

• Assign deadlines to each sub-task

• Focus on finishing each sub-task and not on the big goal

Related: How To Use The Compound Effect To Succeed In Life

#8. Be Aware Of Your Limiting Beliefs

Whenever you find yourself giving up on your goals, stop for a moment, and ask yourself why this isn’t working?

It could be inconvenient circumstances that are holding you from reaching your goals. But most of the time, it’s your limiting beliefs telling you that you can’t do it.

Whatever your limiting beliefs are, acknowledging them and seeing how wrong they are is the most important step to change them.

Related: How To Reprogram Your Mind For Great Success

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” – Napoleon Hill

#9. Overcome Procrastination.

Procrastination can stem from a fear of failure, perfectionism, insufficient will-power, boredom, inability to estimate accurately how long it takes to accomplish something, seeing a project as a whole instead of breaking it into smaller parts, etc.

Procrastination can be a major problem. It causes people to inadequately prepare for important exams and interviews, leave projects incomplete, and fail to meet deadlines.

One highly effective way to overcome procrastination is to break your job into smaller parts and work on each part single-mindedly. By persuading your mind to work on the activity for “just few minutes,’ you’ll feel an urge to see it through to completion.

This is known as the Zeigarnik effect .

According to the Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik, starting an activity triggers a kind of psychic anxiety. Once your activity is completed, your mind relaxes and all is forgotten. In other words, your anxious brain will refuse to rest until the task is complete.

Related: 10 Ways to Boost Your Productivity: How to Accomplish More & Have More Time

#10. Motivate Yourself

Think about the good things that will happen if you achieve your goal.

People who succeed in making and maintaining a change, would constantly remind themselves of the benefits associated with the attempted change.

It doesn’t have to be imagining their perfect selves, but having an objective list of how their life would be better once they make the change and achieve their goal. At the same time, they don’t focus on how failure to change would affect their lives.

For example, if someone wants to lose weight, the right approach would be to focus on how good they’ll look and feel once they drop a few pounds.

On the other hand, fixating on how not losing weight will mean continued unhappiness about the way they look, won’t be much help.

#11. A Better Way to Use Visualization.

When it comes to visualization, a study has shown that tennis players and golfers benefit far more from imagining themselves training than winning.

The same goes for students who imagine themselves studying for the exam rather than getting high degrees.

So if you want to use visualization to achieve any goal or make any change, try imagining yourself, from a third-person perspective, doing whatever needs to be done to reach your goal.

One reason why visualizing yourself from a third-person perspective can work better than a first-person one, is because the former requires more mental effort and so result in significantly more behavioral changes.

#12. DoubleThink

When working on a change or achieving a goal, it’s recommended that people reflect on the benefits of making the change or achieving that goal.

At the same time, it’s advised not to focus on how failure to change would affect their lives.

The doublethink technique, recommends that those who want to make a change, reflect first on the benefits of the attempted change. Immediately afterward, they need to think about the biggest obstacles to their success and focus on what they would do if they encountered these difficulties.

Note that they don’t focus on failure itself, rather they focus on the difficulties they might encounter and how they can overcome them.

#13. Keep Track of Your Progress (e.g., in a journal or on a chart)

Successful people always kept track of their plans, benefits, and progress in writing.

They would use handwritten journals, digital ones, charts or even bulletin boards. Keeping track of their progress boosts their confidence and increases their chances of success.

#14. Review Your Goals Regularly

Every month or even every week, review how close you are to reaching your goals and meeting your deadlines.

If you’re not moving along as expected, try to change or improve your strategy.

Also, you need to leave some room for mistakes and setbacks. It’s only normal to fail before coming up with better ways and wining.

#15. Reward Yourself for the Progress You Make

Those who end up making and maintaining permanent changes in their lives, attach a reward to each sub-goal of their plan. This reward is usually something small and doesn’t conflict with their main goal.

So if your goal is to lose weight, a reward for a week of healthy diet shouldn’t be a bar of chocolate or a trip to the fast-food restaurant. Nevertheless, a reward should be something to look forward to and should provide a sense of accomplishment.

Did I miss anything?

Now I’d like to hear from you.

Which techniques from today’s post are you going to try first?

Or maybe I didn’t mention one of your favorite techniques.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now!

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How to Set and Achieve New Year’s Resolutions and Every Other Goal?


Portions of this article were adapted from the book 59 Seconds: Think a little, change a lot, © 2009 by Richard Wiseman. All rights reserved.

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