It’s the start of a new year, and for many of us, that means making new year resolutions.
Whether it’s around fitness, eating better, saving money, or achieving a professional goal, most can attest that while we start off with good intentions, we often do not reach the finish line.
But this needn’t be the case.
You can achieve your goals by following a process that enables you to visualize what you want and gives you strategies to make it a reality.
A goal is the end toward which effort is directed. There are two kinds of goals. An ultimate goal takes more than one step to achieve. An immediate goal can be done in a single, small step.
When we think about goals, we often think of ultimate goals. We are used to setting our goals out of reach. Failure can then sap confidence and motivation.
For example, if your goal was to complete a 5K run, for most of us, getting out of bed and attempting it on the day of the run will lead to failure or injury. Instead, if we were to train for a period time, change diet, undergo a medical checkup, and build up stamina and strength, we are likely to succeed. Setting small but achievable goals, such as walking one kilometre first, and then adding more distance over time, would create a long string of goal successes.
Not knowing where to start or having no interest or energy are common challenges in goal setting. Shrinking goals to match motivation levels can lead to progress. Set goals based on your current level of ability – you do not have to match your usual standards, at least for now. Remember, success—even when it’s small—builds motivation.
When you are motivated, you are more likely to achieve your goal. Goals that meet certain criteria are more likely to motivate you to completion.
For example, your goal must be important enough that you want to make a commitment to seeing it through. You should be confident that the goal is achievable. The goal should be challenging and mentally stimulating. And finally, you need to be able to see results.
Make your immediate goals S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, My Own, Action-Oriented, Realistic, Timely).
Specific: Define exactly how you are going to carry out your task. If you decided to run, this could include knowing where you will go (community centre, gym, home treadmill), how you would get there, whether you have required running gear etc.
My Own: Your goal is something you want to do – it should not depend on someone else’s cooperation.
Action-Oriented: Immediate goals should be to do something, not feel or think a certain way. It’s about action, not emotion.
Realistic: Decide in advance what you will call a success. Choose a finish line you know you can reach. If you’re not confident that your goal is achievable, make it smaller.
Timely: Include a time frame for goal completion.
Setting and achieving goals can ultimately be so rewarding for your physical, emotional, and mental health. Get started today!