Setting goals for the new year
Goal setting for the new year and what does it look like? It’s that time of year that we reflect on all the things that have happened. Did you have a productive year last year?. What did you accomplish? What we wanted to accomplish, and where to go from here. Like many others, the start of the new year means the start of some new routine. A new diet, exercise plan, quitting a “bad” habit, or picking up a new one. And like many others that have happened before now, these new habits don’t quite seem to stick.
We will start off very motivated and focused on the changes we want to make. We devise a new outlook on the idea of change. But then, it fizzles out. We then become critical of ourselves for not being motivated. But this year could be different. Change is more than just wanting something badly. It’s about the thought patterns that you have around the subject and the behaviors that you begin to implement with time.
Goal Setting for the New Year
Make goals and objectives that you set attainable. While it is great to want to set a goal for yourself to “be happier” or “get out of all debt”, is this truly attainable? Can you identify and define what “happier” means? Does your income support being completely debt free in the next year? If not, that doesn’t mean give up these ideas or goals, but to set more achievable objectives (smaller goals) that can work towards the bigger over arching goal. If you want to be debt free identify one specific bill or thing you would like to pay off and work towards that. Once you reach that goal, set another goal, and then another. It feels good to have a smaller success and work towards larger successes than to set a big goal and see no movement towards it and then give up.
Write out your goals. Although it is great to know what goals you have. It’s better to write them out and periodically evaluate and look at your goal to identify how you are working towards achieving it. This also adds some overall accountability to yourself by seeing the goals that you have set for yourself rather than them getting lost in the shuffle of life. This will also allow you to see what your big goal is and evaluate all of the little goals that are working you up and towards the bigger goal. It creates a quantitative way to get to where you want to be.
Make goals that are measurable. Again, its’s nice to identify that you want to be happier or have more motivation but what does that really mean? Does that mean spending more time with your family? When can you regularly schedule that? Having too many questions leads individuals to become overwhelmed and give up on goals set. A goal for this might be 3 out of 7 nights a week. “I want to sit down with my family for dinner to talk and catch up”. Or 2x a month go out on date night with partner where you take turns scheduling with your partner. Make sure your partner is willing to do this as well and it’s communicated). Goals like this can help identify a specific activity that you have identified. It will help you feel more connected with others.
Have people that you are important in your life know about your goals. You might be able to set goals with that person. This increases the likelihood of having added accountability and be able to stick with your plans. This allows for others to notice the effort you are putting into change as well as helping them change too.
Reward yourself for goals that you achieve. There is nothing wrong with rewarding yourself for the goals you have set This is different than going back to old habits. If you set the goal to spend more time with family and be connected and you do this reward yourself in some way. Maybe that means buying a book to read by yourself. Even when you reward yourself that does not mean to stop doing the change behaviors. Be aware of this and mindful on what reward you set up. Going back to write it out could be helpful. “If I obtain this…. I will reward myself with this…”. Then move onto your next objective or goal.
Goal Setting and Seeking The Help You Need
Work on how you think about change. Often individuals like to think in absolutes. “This year I will lose 30 pounds”. Someone might then identify that they will not eat sweats or bread to attain this goal. What happens when you relapse and have something sweet? Many people feel guilty and then give up or give themselves permission to continue since they “already messed up”. Being able to work on how we think about change can be more helpful in the overall process and work towards what we would like. Instead of setting a pound goal, what would it feel like to set a goal to feel more confident? Might that mean you decide to eat differently or exercise? It could. We often feel better about situations through the way we think about and the way that we process information. Being able to create helpful language about the ways we would like to change or create different habits will likely increase how motivated and gracious you are with yourself along the process of change.
Simply wanting to change is not enough (although we all wish it was). There is a lot of work in being able to change but it is possible. Setting goals is a process and a journey that you will stumble on. It’s important to stay the course and look at successes you can make along the way and how you are different today than you were yesterday. Having more skills and tools to work towards the change you want can be beneficial.
If you would like to learn more about how setting some goals can be helpful for you or even how to cognitively restructure what change can be. There are qualified therapists that can help you to set goals and work towards how you evaluate change. To learn more about change behaviors and goal setting, schedule a free phone consultation to discover how counseling and coaching services help you find the motivation and language to make these changes and maintain them.