How to Actually Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions

31-days calendar near round white analog alarm clock
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S.M.A.R.T. Goals: Bringing structure, trackability and accountability into your goal-setting and objectives.

The problem with the “new year, new me” buzz this time of year is exactly how overplayed it sounds. It has that same detrimental effect as when we constantly announce to everyone our goals-to-be. Remember when they said not to blabber too much about your goals to other people? That’s exactly why. Research shows talking about your goals can actually produce the same gratifying effect, as if you had already accomplished them. As a result, you walk around with a pseudo sense of accomplishment, like you’ve hit the mark, won the game, and predictably, procrastination ensues.

But this is the year of transformation. You can feel it in the air, getting us all riled up, ready to play. And in order to play any game, you’ve got to play smart. With that you’ve got to be well prepared, and you’ve got to know your reason why you’re doing what you’re doing.

The rules of the game are simple. There are only five steps.

S: Specific

1. Be specific.

The worst thing you can do is to completely generalize a goal and hope that it somehow works out in your favor. First of all, you’re already asking for it to not end well.

The general rule of thumb here is to make sure that your goal satisfies the question, “How?” The more descriptive you are in your intentions, the better chance you have at succeeding. For example, let’s look at my friend here, we will call her Lola. This year, she wants to be less dependent on boys. She would be much more successful in her endeavors if she attached an additional clause, “to be less dependent on boys by focusing more on achieving good grades in my last semester of university.”

M: Measurable

2. Ensure they are measurable.

Scaling your goals is also a great way of tracking progress. Not just progress in your goals but progress in your life. Scaling your goals is the equivalent of how to measure your success.

Hey, if you got goals, you might as well do them right, right?

I have another friend, whose name is Tony. His main goal this year is to read one book a month. He’s definitely got measure, but let’s try building on the first step. What he lacks here is his intention. Specifically he wants to… what? We aren’t sure, so here I’m going to make an addition: “read one book a month to expand my vocabulary and knowledge in self-help, in order to speak more eloquently in front of the meeting room.” I just made this up about Tony, but you see what I mean.

A: Attainable

3. Ask yourself if it is worth it.

This step is mainly focused on cost and benefit analysis of your goals and your means of succeeding. Here you have to ask yourself if the shoe fits. While it’s a great thing to be ambitious, sometimes what you want just doesn’t align with your life in that moment, and the right thing to do might just be to set it aside for now. And that might sound scary to some, but trust me, if it’s something you were meant to do, you’ll never forget it.

The worst thing you can do is get caught up in that trap of a “sunken-cost fallacy,” which is the feeling of continuing to pursue a goal you’ve worked at for so long, only because it’s been so long. The tragedy lies in relying on time as your friend. Just try to remember that life is short.

R: Relevant

4. Make sure you believe in the big picture.

Knowing your reason why might just be the most important component of all. Your why constitutes the summation of your core values, your most important reasons to be.

Understanding the relevance makes you realize that these goals only serve as contributions to your main goal of simply existing. To put it simply, when in doubt or struggle, just remember who you are. On the path towards success, when the road gets ugly (and you know it will), you will feel lucky to be able to find refuge, as well as inspiration, in your sanctuary.

Ask yourself if this goal and everything about it aligns with who you are and who you want to be or will become. Because without that necessary alignment, you will lack the self-motivation that will ultimately be the key to your fruition.

T: Timely

5. Keep yourself accountable with deadlines.

The best part about creating a tentative schedule is observing your development. You get to see your progression with your very own eyes.

A lot of things can happen in a year. Don’t take it for granted. You want to speak up? Then do it. Every time you feel that lump in your chest, ignore it and embarrass yourself. You want to pay off your debts and be in better control of your finances? Do it. Know what you’re doing wrong and block off an hour to create a manageable budget sheet. Stop sitting around, praying that somehow your wallet will save itself. How about strengthening yourself mentally? This is so important. Love yourself more. All these things are incredibly easy, once given the effort. Make it second nature.

Cheers to the new year! Thought Catalog Logo Mark

I’d probably find what you find boring very interesting.

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