Every January, we endeavor to grow ourselves by setting ambitious new (or repeating) goals for ourselves. Often, we know we’re going to fail these New Year’s resolutions, but we set them up anyways. This is the year, we think. This is the year I’ll finally break the cycle and do XYZ thing. And then we make it to January 3 or 23 or February 1 and we drop the ball.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though. By setting meaningful, achievable goals, we can set ourselves up for success through January and the rest of the year.
Know why you’re setting this New Year’s resolution
If you set a goal or resolution without a concrete reason for why you want to accomplish this thing, it’s hard to keep up with it when things get rough.
When you’re deciding on a resolution, think through (and maybe write down) the following things:
- What do I want to accomplish with this goal?
- Why is accomplishing this important to me?
- Will accomplishing this make me feel more proud of myself and who I’m becoming?
- Does this help me become the person I want to become or create the life I want to live?
Knowing this helps give you the motivation to stick with your goal. After all, you have something you’re working towards now, something bigger than just this one goal. You’re working on who you want to be.
Make it a SMART goal
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. What do all of these words mean? Let’s break it down.
Specific. This means that you specify exactly what you want to accomplish. I wouldn’t say “I want to sell freezer beef this year” and call it a goal. I would instead specify “I want to sell 60% of our herd as freezer beef” or “I want to sell 5 cows for freezer beef.” This specificness allows you to have a visible finish line to work towards.
Measurable. You need to have a way to track your progress. This may mean that you set up milestones, you measure percentage toward your goal, or whatever it is that allows you to see that you’re making progress. Have you tried accomplishing a goal when it felt like you were just spinning your wheels? Measuring what you’ve done and how far you’ve come is a great defense against that.
Achievable. If you set up a goal that’s impossible, you’re not going to accomplish it. That’s just a fact. So when you’re setting up your New Year’s Resolutions, ask yourself, Can I really do this? It is important to push yourself and to grow outside of your comfort zone, but it’s not good to set yourself up for failure by asking yourself to do something you simply can’t do.
Relevant. Is this goal moving you towards where you want to be in life? In other words, is this goal meaningful? You might have a goal (like me) to set up a new rabbit enclosure. If you have a bigger goal to have more rabbits or have a better pen for your current rabbits, this is a great goal. If you don’t have any rabbits and you’re just doing this because you don’t know what else to do… well, maybe you should find something else to do with your time.
Time-bound. Give yourself a deadline. It’s easy to procrastinate when the thing you’re working on can always be done “tomorrow.” However, having a specific amount of time that you have to get a thing done by can really set a fire underneath of you. Set deadlines for yourself and stick to them.
Get a buddy
“A good life depends on the strength of our relationships with family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and strangers.” – David Lammy
Having a friend or family member who knows what your goals are and is willing to help push you to accomplish them is a treasure indeed. Not only do you have someone to commiserate with as you both tackle the thing, but it helps keep you accountable. Sometimes it’s easy to let things slide until you realize you have to tell someone else about that!
Think about your friends right now. Is there anyone who might have the same goals as you? Anyone who could use an accountability partner as well? By teaming up together, you’re setting each other up for success!
Milestones are the roadmap to completing your New Year’s resolution. It breaks your large goal down into smaller ones. Depending on how large your goal is, you can even break your milestones down into smaller milestones.
As you work towards your goal, keep track of each milestone you hit. Do something that lets you see the visual progress of it. Why? That way, when you’re not sure if you’ve accomplished anything or you’re wondering if you can even make it to the end of this goal, you can see exactly how far you’ve come.
Put in the hard work
The fact is that it’s not going to be easy. It’s really hard to change habits you’ve had for a lifetime. There are going to be days when you mess up, days when you do the thing you weren’t supposed to do, and days you wonder why you’re even trying to make this change.
But, in these moments, you can review what you’ve already set up to give you the motivation to keep going!
- Why you wanted to do this
- Your next milestone
- All that you’ve accomplished so far
- The feeling you’re going to have when you complete this goal
Now it’s time to put in the hard work. Keep going. It will all be worth it, and thanks to your building out your resolution, you know it. Take a deep breath, reset, push on.
Celebrate your accomplishments!
When you accomplish something, celebrate it! It is a big deal! You worked hard for it and you’ve made it to the end. Way to go! I’m proud of you.
When you set up your goal, decide what you want your reward to be. That way, as you work through your different milestones and look towards the future, you’re also excited about what you’ll do when you succeed.
Additionally, when you hit your different milestones, celebrate those too! Give yourself something to look forward to. They might not be quite as big of a celebration as when you complete your overarching goal, but they are still accomplishments that deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated.
What are your New Year’s resolutions?
Now you have everything you need for meaningful, achievable goals. What are you going to accomplish this year?