Setting a Goal for the New Year

What You Need to Know About Setting a Goal for the New Year

You probably have goal setting on your mind right now, since the New Year is right around the corner.

I think it's a fabulous time to think about what you want to focus on in the coming year, because you have plenty of time to think through and thoroughly plan a reasonable, attainable goal.

It’s no secret that most New Year’s resolutions are forgotten by February 1st, but there are ways to pick a goal that you can stick with the whole year. Here's how to get started:

Write down a list of all of the things you’d like to achieve in an ideal world

This can just be a free flow of ideas; don’t censor yourself.

Read back over your list and pick one to three things that you really, really care about.

It can be helpful if they’re in different areas; you may want to focus on both your health and your career, but don’t try to focus on parenting, your marriage, your health, your finances, and your lute-playing skills. It’s just too much.

Make sure your goals are measurable.

When in doubt, always check in with the SMART acronym; your goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.

Now that you’ve determined your goals, write down exactly why they are important to you.

What do you hope to accomplish? How do you think your life will be better once you achieve these goals? What do you expect to be different about your life once you get there? It’s important to know the why behind your goals, because when the going gets tough, you’re going to need a really strong motivation to keep going.

Here’s a step people usually skip: You gotta figure out, in detail, what obstacles are going to stand in your way.

It’s so easy to say you’ll go to the gym six days a week, but when you slow down and think about the obstacles, you’re going to see why you’ve never managed to stick to that goal before. Do you have limited time? Do you have limited finances? Really dig in and figure out any and all obstacles may get in your way.

Now that you know what your obstacles are, it’s time to work through them and come up with solutions.

If you want to eat three servings of vegetables every day but your obstacles are that you don’t like to cook and don’t like vegetables, you need a plan. Perhaps the first part of your plan is to buy prepared vegetables to cut down on your kitchen time, and the second part of your plan is to look up one new easy vegetable recipe a week so you can try some new ways of preparing veggies that you may like better.

Tell someone your goals.

Whether you join an accountability group online, tell your spouse what you’re hoping to achieve, or make a pact with a co-worker to check in every week about how things are going, be certain you’re not going it alone. Once someone else knows what you’re trying to do, it makes you work harder to stay on track, so don’t skip this step.

Circle back and see if your goals are still realistic.

When you start to lose steam or lose interest in your goals, check in to see if they need tweaking. Maybe you already achieved your goal and need a new challenge, maybe your goal was overly ambitious after all, or maybe life intervened and you need to set an entirely new goal.

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