Today I want to discuss why we don’t need New Year Resolutions at all. A big statement, I know. I believe there is a better way to improve our lives and make positive changes. Hopefully by the end of this article, you’ll have a new way of planning out 2016 and I’ll be doing it right along side you! The key to making progress in anything is Goal Setting. More specifically Goal Setting that is S.M.A.R.T. New Year resolutions are vague, idealistic and don’t help you execute the changes you need to make. Goal Setting is a much more thoughtful, invested and realistic way of designing your life into what you want it to be.
S.M.A.R.T. You may have heard this acronym before. It’s discussed in most goal setting books and articles I’ve read. Although there are a few variations, this is the one that I use. Hopefully through my examples here I can spark your thought process and you can adapt it to your personal situation and what you want to achieve in 2016.
It is worth mentioning that all your goals need to be actually written out, for you to reference throughout the year. Not on Facebook or twitter, but on paper, just for you to study and focus on. You should set aside some time to work out your goals in December and really give a lot of thought to them. Writing them on a napkin on New Years Eve won’t cut it! Remember the old saying, ‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail’.
Most of the experts on this topic advise that between 7 and 10 goals in a year is sensible. Your goals should not all be concentrating on one area, they should be spread across your life, for example work, hobbies, relationships, business, spiritual/faith etc.
Goals are not just a list of wishes, dreams or visions. Goals are the specific way of executing the changes you need, to make the life that you REALLY want to be living. Let’s look at the S.M.A.R.T plan and see how it relates to us.
- Specific. Our goals need to be specific. For example, I could say my goal is to be more healthy in 2016. While that sounds good, it’s vague and open-ended. A better way to say it would be, I want to lose weight and build up my physical strength so I will be able to run a half marathon in 2016. That is specific.
- Measurable. Our goals need to be measurable. So it’s not enough to say I want to lose weight. What I could say is, I want to lose 20lbs in weight. That is both specific and measurable.
- Actionable. Our goal needs to be actionable. For example, I want to be more active in 2016. That’s not actionable. Saying, I will go to gym twice a week to be more active, that is actionable. It’s specific, measurable and gives the exact action I need to take to reach my goal.
- Realistic. Our goals must be realistic. This is quite self explanatory, but for example, I could say I want to be more healthy and be ready for the next world olympics to represent Great Britain. Very noble, but totally unrealistic. I am 28 years old, struggle to run 3 miles without stopping and love baked food way too much to ever be competing in the olympics! This isn’t negative, it’s realistic. And we need to keep that sense of realism in our goals, or we could be setting ourselves up for failure from the beginning.
- Time-bound. Our goals must have some sort of time limit on them, because if they don’t we will have no real sense of urgency to work on achieving them. Back to my weight loss example, the best way to write this goal down, would be “I want to lose 20lbs in weight by 30th June 2016. I will go the gym twice and week and by 31st December I will run a half marathon,” Do you see how all the parts of this go together? Weight loss is a very obvious example, and that’s what I’ve used it, but with a little thought we could apply this is most areas of our lives.
Personally, weight loss is not one of my goals this year. There are other areas of my life I want to make progress with and so that’s where my focus will be. Hopefully the S.M.A.R.T plan can help you achieve what you desire for 2016.
It’s a great idea to share your goals with a few people in your life, in order to give you some accountability. A small piece of advice would be to chose people who naturally encourage you, and steer clear of the people who make you exhausted just by being around them! We all know a few people like that, and we all know how much of an energy drain it can be to listen to negative people. So chose wisely.
Staying motivated over a long period of time can be tricky. But a key factor in keeping momentum going is to focus on the end result. Focus on how achieving this goal will change your life and what else it will make possible. Remember that setbacks are normal, obstacles can arise for all of us, but good planning can help us to pre-empt these obstacles and be prepared to deal with them accordingly. Don’t be discouraged by minor setbacks, and if you feel your plan really isn’t working, go back to the drawing board, so to speak, and find a new way of doing things. Remember, failure is never final unless you quit!
To help you in setting your goals for 2016, I have designed a printable template, which is absolutely FREE. To download the FREE template, click this link or the download button below; you can print out as many copies as you need.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this and also about what way you keep yourself motivated throughout the year? Please feel free to comment below!