The beginning of the year has become the unofficial time for a “life makeover.” We decide what didn’t work for us in the year prior and resolve to make sweeping changes in order to look/live/work/be better. While this all sounds wonderful in theory, the sad fact is, most New Year’s resolutions will fail. While 45% of Americans make them, only about 8% complete their resolutions successfully,* leaving the rest of us with not only the original issue still to be fixed, but the self-guilt that comes with not accomplishing a goal.
Here’s the good news: It doesn’t have to be that way.
The answer to goal success doesn’t rely entirely on your resolve or self-control. A good portion of it has to do with how you made the goal in the first place. Making a big change in your life is next to impossible to tackle in one fell swoop, but it can be tackled by being realistic, getting specific and making a plan for success. Let’s take a look at the top three most common New Year’s Resolutions* and see if we can’t break them into bite-sized chunks to maximize your chance of success:
Goal: Lose Weight
This is the most common resolution, year after year. While it’s great to have health front of mind as a goal, this resolution is far too vague to be achievable.
Get Specific: Set a realistic end goal for yourself. This could take a few different forms, such as, “Lose 25lbs by the end of the year,” or “Get to X weight by the end of the year,” or even, “Fit back into my old jeans by the end of the year.” Once you have a clear, definable goal, you can break it down into measurable “mini-goals.” Create a system that works for you to monitor your progress throughout the year. This could be weekly or monthly. For example, if you want to lose 25 pounds by the end of the year, that would mean you need to lose 2.08 pounds per month, or roughly a quarter of a pound per week. By breaking the end goal into smaller goals that are easily achievable in steps, it makes the whole thing seem more achievable.
Goal: Get Organized
We all have areas in our lives that could use a little tidying up. It’s next to impossible to tackle them all at once and by trying to, you end up setting yourself up for failure.
Get Specific: First, identify which areas of your life need more organization. Your house? Work area? Finances? Schedule? Even if it’s all of the above, it’s definitely achievable in one year’s time. Once the areas have been identified, pick one to focus on every month. Do a little research, pick an organization method that will work for you, spend some time and possibly even some money the first week getting yourself set up and take the rest of the month to ingrain the new system into your daily routine. This way, you can make a list of your disorganized “areas” and have the satisfaction of crossing one off every month. By taking the time to focus on each area individually, you lessen the chances of returning to your old ways and undoing all of your hard work.
Goal: Spend Less, Save More
Much like losing weight, it’s best to be as specific with financial goals as possible. The great thing about both of these goals, is that they have hard numbers to play with.
Get Specific: First things first, let’s identify exactly how much you want to save. This will help us to see how much less you need to spend. Let’s say, for example, you want to save $1,000 this year. That means you need to spend $83.33 less every month, or $20.83 less per week. That doesn’t seem so bad at all, does it? Now we can take a look at our budget and see where that $20.83 per week is going now (likely culprits: Starbucks or ordering lunch), and adjust as necessary. In this scenario, the goal would go from “Spend Less, Save More” to “Cut down to two lattes a week and put that money in my savings account.” Now there is a definitive, measurable, achievable goal.
We all have things in our lives that we wish we could do better and it’s admirable that we take steps to try to achieve what we perceive as an ideal life. However, if we want to make large, sweeping changes to our lives—like losing weight, getting more organized, saving money, etc.— it’s important that we first take the time to assess what the real goal is and what the best way to achieve it is for us, individually. Not everyone will benefit from the same approach, and a little trial and error is usually needed in the very beginning to find the right method. By getting really specific with our goals, we allow ourselves a clearly defined path to success that can be measured as we go.
*All statistics for this article provided by: Statistic Brain