It’s that time of year when almost everyone takes time to reflect on the year’s past and look forward to needed changes as the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s eve. While it’s important to engage in evaluation practices and set short-term goals throughout the year, here are some tips for setting and reaching realistic goals in every part of your life – whether that be around relationships, professional aspirations, or health and wellness pursuits.
1. Understand why
So often we overcommit to a long list of goals as the new year approaches. Some of the most common new year’s resolutions are around fitness commitments, job changes, and relationship improvements. Social pressure, financial needs, and sometimes our own projected image can drive goals that might not be aligned with our truest values. Understand the greater purpose your goals serve to ensure success in reaching them.
For instance, if you commit to exercising five times a week because you think you need to lose weight, ask yourself whether external motivation, such as societal pressure to look a certain way, is driving this goal more than your own inherent desire to feel more energized, comfortable in your clothes, and healthier for your family. Similarly, if making a career change is a new year’s goal, ask yourself whether your motivation is mostly financial, or whether your desire is tied to meaningful values such as work-life balance, fulfillment, or impact. The latter factors are more likely to lead to a successful change. Get clear on the sincere “why” tied to each of your resolutions to ensure your goals are aligned with your inherent willpower.
2. Break it down
It’s easy to overcommit to change, which can lead to inevitable defeat. When planning resolutions for the new year, start with our tried and true Reflection Checklist to understand the greatest gaps in your happiness. Then, commit to no more than three goals, in unique categories such as relationships, health, productivity, and others. Make sure your goals have the following SMART goal characteristics:
Instead of choosing lofty long-term goals, break down resolutions into manageable, achievable steps. Let’s take an example. If your goal is to be more patient with your partner and/or kids, break that down into monthly action items that are specific, meaningful, measurable, reasonable, and trackable.
Specifically, you might notice that you are triggered to be short with your partner in the evenings when you are most tired. Instead of reacting with bouts of frustration when he or she asks you questions late in the day, come up with a response strategy. This might be taking three deep breaths and using a response such as “Your question is important and I want to consider it overnight. Can we connect on this topic right after work tomorrow?” Use a tailored strategy to help overcome a specific communication behavior.
An approach like this is measurable and trackable (noting whether you lost your temper at all over the course of a month), and your specific and achievable solution is meaningful to the success of your relationship, and your overarching happiness.
3. Share it aloud
Along the same lines, making a declaration is another way to ensure success. When you share your goals and dreams with the world, instead of striving for them in a vacuum, you have a greater chance of receiving the support you need to achieve your desires. In addition, a public declaration helps hold you accountable to the changes you want. Just as a wedding is one way to commit aloud to long-term partnership, any kind of ceremony or declaration leads to a higher degree of success. So, post to social media, ask your friends to hold you accountable, or even employ a coach if you are serious about change.
4. Set intentions rather than resolutions
For many, the mindset around setting resolutions leads to a sense of failure when you are met with an obstacle or setback early in the initial weeks to months of working on your goal. A helpful, mindful shift can be to think of your goal as an intention rather than a resolution, which often conjures up “all or none” thinking. Coming from a place of intention makes it easier to reflect, adjust, clarify purpose, and move forward mindfully working towards your goal.
5. Celebrate success
Positive reinforcement is a critical component of change. Plan specific rewards for behavior, such as buying yourself a fitbit after a month of daily walks or scheduling a couples massage after six weeks of intentional, compassionate communication. As short-term, measurable goals are set, tie them to a reward to keep motivation levels high.
6. Practice manifestation
The idea of manifestation is closely tied to setting goals. Manifesting needs and desires by visualizing, meditating, and believing dreams help them come true. This suggestive power can help shift what we visualize into reality, stop cycles of self-sabotage, and reinforce the belief that we are deserving and worthy of our goals and dreams.
Ways to successfully manifest your intentions involve visualizing your goals as true, using mantras to verbally reinforce your desires, as well as using visual reminders of your affirmations (post on your bathroom mirror and in your daily planner). Meditation can also help you get clear on the specifics of the life, job, relationship, or body you desire. Tapping into this subscious energy is paramount for peaceful and clear change.
Change becomes significantly easier with the right support system. The team at Center for Shared Insight helps clients outline the steps of change to ensure their success. Working one-on-one with a trained psychologist can help facilitate change in the form of reaching goals and making dreams a reality.
Schedule a time to discuss how our support might help in the new year by booking a consultation. Or download our free ebook to understand the role of fearlessness in your life and how it can facilitate positive transformation in the new year and beyond.