Listen, it’s 2019 and I’m about to get real with you – I hate resolutions. For some they work, but for many they don’t. I’ve made the resolution to lose weight, to work out more, to eat healthy, to save money, etc. Guess what? I’m still soft, out of shape, eating Lays and chocolate like it’s my job, all while wondering where my last $30.00 went.
I feel like resolutions don’t work because there is so much pressure to follow through. Each December, nearing the end of the month, we start reflecting back on the resolutions we had made months earlier, often with regrets, frustrations, self-doubt – the trifecta. Then we promise ourselves that this will be our year. We hashtag #newyearnewme and make all other sorts of empty promises.
Hey, I’m not judging. In fact, this is actually my story – it’s been on repeat since I was in my early 20s (spoiler alert: that wasn’t yesterday). I think January 2018 was the most progress I’ve ever made in fulfilling my resolutions, and it was only 12 days. That’s right, I managed to work out for 12 consecutive days and then I got lazy. Things came up, I made excuses, and next thing I know I’m back to being winded going up the two stairs into my front door.
I think the real issue with resolutions is that we often make a blanket phrase – I’m going to eat healthier; I’m going to exercise; I’m going to “insert arbitrary resolution here” – but there’s often not a plan of action behind the resolution. How am I going to eat healthier? What does that look like? How often do I need to exercise? How will I hold myself accountable? That’s why instead of promising myself every January that I will do X amount of things, I have instead set some real, trackable goals. If you’d like to do the same thing, come along for the ride!
1) Set HARD Goals
I like HARD goals more than I like SMART goals, which I’ll talk about shortly; however, think they pair very nicely together.
H – Heartfelt: It’s easier to achieve your goal if it’s actually important to you. Are you trying to lose weight because YOU want to lose weight or because you feel societal pressure to do so? Take a look at what you want to accomplish and determine the why behind the goal.
A – Animated: Think of this as being able to play a movie in your mind of you working toward your goal along with actually accomplishing your goal. Whatever goals you set should be the type that you can visualize. It’s important to be able to see what your success looks like.
R – Required: Setting a goal that doesn’t actually impact your day to day life and isn’t important may mean you don’t care about your success.
D – Difficult: If you don’t face challenges along the way, are you really growing? Choosing goals that have a certain level of difficulty will be all the more rewarding once accomplished!
2) Set SMART Goals
Did you roll your eyes? I saw that. I know, SMART goals are hyped up by everyone – employers, teachers, self-development gurus – you name it, someone has preached about SMART goals. I’m not here to preach, but I am here to say that setting a SMART goal does work. It gives you the framework needed to actually accomplish a goal and allows you to create a rough map that can lead you on your journey. So deep.
S – Specific: Don’t be vague. Don’t paint too broad of a brushstroke. Be concise!
M – Measurable: Determine a way by which you will measure your success – what does next week, next month, next year look like if you are making progress.
A – Attainable: You’re not landing on the moon. Lance Bass couldn’t even get to the moon, so it’s doubtful you will either. Set a realistic goal! If you set unrealistic goals, you set yourself up to be disappointed and will chip away at your confidence.
R – Relevant: Your goal should be relevant to what you want to accomplish in life, either professionally or personally.
T – Time Bound: Give yourself a deadline. If there’s no deadline, you can keep putting off the steps you need to take to actually accomplish your goal. Don’t do that.
3) Write Your Goals Down
If you’re reading this blog post, you’re probably a planner fanatic on some level. This shouldn’t be a hard part of the goal setting progress – in fact, this is likely the part that you enjoy most!
Whether you use a bullet journal, a Happy Planner, an Erin Condren planner, or some other variation, taking the time to write down your goals makes them something you can reflect back on regularly.
Not only should you write them down, you should write down reminders to check in on your progress. It doesn’t have to be weekly, but give yourself at least a monthly reminder. If you’ve been slacking, a monthly reminder is a great way to kick start some sort of action on your part.
4) Make a Plan for Action
As I mentioned earlier, I’m the queen of unresolved resolutions; however, I am acutely aware that my lack of success is of my own doing. I’ve done none of what I’m telling you to do. That’s why this blog post was so important to me, because it’s time for me to actually follow through.
Take the steps, do the things, accomplish the goals. It’s go time.
Now that you’ve thought about your goals, it’s time to think about how accomplishing them will actually happen. This is the part I’ve failed to do time and time again. I’ve told myself I’ll do a number of things, but I’ve never actually set out any type of plan to complete them. By writing down the steps you need to take, and crossing off each step as you complete it, you can easily and clearly see your progress.
Your action plan will be unique. Someone else who has similar goals won't take the same path as you, and that's okay. In fact, your plan shouldn't be the same as someone else's because the things that help make you successful are very likely different than what someone else requires to be successful. That’s cool. That’s the way it should be – don’t try to follow someone else’s lead; instead, make your own path!
5) Actually Do The Things
This is important! You’ve done all the background work, but now is the time to actually DO THE THINGS. That’s right. You’ve got goals, you’ve written them down, you’ve made a plan for action. No you have to take action! This is another critical part of setting goals that I’ve never followed through on – the part where I get my butt up off the couch and put the time and effort in.
And don’t think that you have to adhere to the plan you set out for yourself. If along the way you realize you need to adjust in order to accomplish, then do so. At the end of the day, the path doesn’t matter as long as you make it from point A to point B.
Remember, goal setting encompasses many steps. It's more than just thinking - it's also doing. Check in with yourself often, ask a friend or someone you trust to help hold you accountable, and if at any point you realize the goals you set out need to changed or readjusted, then do so as necessary. Don't force yourself through anything that you don't feel is right for you just for the sake of saying you accomplished your goal.
Have you set some goals for this year? Share in the comments below. I'd love to hear about them!