It’s that time of year again! During these final few weeks of the year when so many of us make New Years resolutions, we want to make next year better than the last. The goal of self-improvement is noble. But, there might be something about this approach that contributes to the nearly total abandonment of most resolutions within the first few weeks of the year! This December, we encourage you to ditch this old strategy and give proper goal-setting a try.
We’re all pretty familiar with the classic resolutions. Eat better. Exercise more. Be more financially responsible. These resolutions, while well-intentioned, are often too vague to pursue. A single slip-up is enough to make you feel like you fell off the rails and then abandon your resolution altogether. There’s a reason why gyms are full in January and then empty by February!
Goals, on the other hand, are measurable, actionable, and trackable. Here are a few tips to help you succeed:
- Be specific. If there is a certain amount of cash you’d like to have tucked away in savings or a number of inches you’d like to lose, write it down! The more detailed the goal, the better. If you’re not specific, you’ll never know if you are actually improving or not!
- Give yourself a timeline. Add a date by which you’d like to achieve your goal. Write your specific goals and their due dates on paper and keep them somewhere you’ll see them often.
- Set Milestones. If tackling one big goal throughout the year seems daunting, break it up and give yourself milestones to achieve quarterly or month-to-month. Apply the same rules of writing them down and setting dates to help keep you on track.
If your goal is less measurable, create a system to which you can adhere. For example, if you’d like to eat healthier in 2018, aim to eat whole foods for 80% of your diet, and be flexible with the remaining 20%. Again, be sure to track your progress and adjust your system as needed!
Finally, be gentle with yourself! Remind yourself that your aim is to improve, not to achieve perfection. Remain a bit flexible so you’ll be able to jump back on track when the inevitable slip up happens. And, remember, you never need to wait until January 1st to set a new goal!