Still in January and already struggling with your new year’s resolutions? Trying to figure out how you’re going to stick to your goals for a whole year? Or is it best to just throw in the towel right now and save yourself form the frustration of doing nothing of what you’ve planned?
We’re hoping this article will help you find some middle ground to your new year’s resolutions. Some you’ll probably decide its best to drop along the way, but others are great opportunities for change and self-improvement and are truly worth pursuing. Knowing the difference between the two is as equally important as having goals in life.
And also: keep in mind there’s nothing wrong about changing your mind or re-setting your new year’s resolutions along the way. As long as you can keep focus of what you truly want and need.
New year’s resolutions: what’s the point?
It’s not about the new year. It’s about fresh starts and doing something different. It’s about setting goals for yourself and feeling driven to live the life you’re dreaming of. Human beings need goals and purpose in their lives to be happy. We need to know there’s a reason to be here and to do the things we do. Otherwise what’s the point of bothering if we’re merely existing?
Our point is: it doesn’t have to be new year’s resolutions. But setting goals for your life, envisioning a different reality for yourself, defying yourself (and sometimes the odds as well) is what will keep you motivated throughout the year.
“But what if I’ve tried this before and failed over and over again?” – We can almost hear you ask. Then we have a few questions for you: were your goals realistic? Did they depend exclusively on your performance? Did you really plan how to achieve them and stuck to your plan or re-adjusted it according to the difficulties you found along the way? Do you know when you’ve achieved your goal? Have you defined deadlines and steps to accomplish it?
How to establish realistic goals
We can’t just live on hopes and dreams, we need to have achievable and realistic goals. Of course, you can always argue dreams are life’s fuel and sometimes it’s worth setting yourself “unrealistic goals”. But we will come to that later. For now let’s focus on “realistic goals”, which may be defined as tangible objectives to work with. Something you can say at the end of the day: “I did it.”
Why does that backpack trip around Asia for three months has to be only a lifetime dream? – We hear this one a lot. But seriously: why do some dreams are just shoved into a drawer? Why can’t we turn them into life goals?
So here are a few questions that will help you define realistic goals:
- Is it possible to achieve? Make it a challenge but don’t make it impossible. Remember people tend to overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in ten.
- Why do you want it? The “why” is a key part of establishing your goals. If your reasons for wanting something aren’t clear and strong enough, you will not follow through. If you are doing something just to try to please other people, you may need to reconsider your goal. The point here is: do it for yourself and because you truly want this. How do you know you truly want this? This may strike you as a horrible cliché but it must excite you and it has to come from the heart.
- Does it depend on my skill/will/responsibility to get it? Realistic goals need to depend on you and your will instead of others or on luck. We believe luck is a conjugation of will, action and opportunity. Nothing’s going to happen if you’re in the couch waiting for a miracle! Also if you don’t have the skills to get it, can you learn them?
- Is it accountable? You need to have goals that are specific and that can be measured, otherwise, how will you know if you have achieved them?
How to take action and stay motivated
Here are a few tips and strategies to help you stay tuned in to your resolutions.
- Get rid of the story. Everybody has a story that stops them from taking action. “I’m too young, I’m too old, I don’t have the money, I don’t have the time, I don’t have the skills…” What is your story? Whatever it is, you must know it’s not real. It’s just the voice of fear lingering in your mind – everybody is afraid of failure, however this fear doesn’t serve us and you must confront it.
- Envision what it would be like to achieve your goal. With as much detail as you can: how it would feel, how it would change your life, how it would change the way people around you see you, all the things you could do and most importantly, how proud you’d be of yourself. Picturing a scenario like this one will not only help you define good strategies, it will also help you keep in mind of what you truly want and stay motivated. Repeat this exercise regularly and as many times as you feel necessary throughout the year until you reach your goal.
- Set steps into achieving your goals. Any task may seem enormous and overwhelming before breaking it into smaller and achievable steps. Once you have a strategy to achieving your goals, things will start to appear a lot easier!
- Measure progress and be ready for adjustment. How do you know if you are moving towards your goal unless you track your progress? Keep your eyes on the prize but remember you may need to take a few turns if you find obstacles along the way. When unexpected difficulties crop up, train your mind to think of an alternative: always have a plan B and C, in case plan A goes wrong. Remember: a few setbacks are not a good reason to give up on your hopes and dreams! Besides: reaching your goals after a few setbacks will only make the victory feel even better.
- Quitting is not always a sign of weakness, it can be a sign of maturity. If you’ve come to the conclusion this goal is not for you, or you don’t want it as much as you thought you did, don’t punish yourself. Be honest. Find something else to focus your attention and resources on, something you really want and feel comfortable pursuing, something that will make you happy. There’s no point in achieving a goal and getting something you don’t want anymore. That’s just about as frustrating as not achieving your new year’s resolutions!
What are your new year’s resolutions? Share your story in the comments below!