It’s that time of year. The lights are being taken down, the presents are all opened and being enjoyed, and people are looking forward to starting a brand new year. And with the New Year comes goals and resolutions. Maybe you want to set some work-related goals, or you’ve decided not to get sunburned at all in 2018, or maybe you’re wanting to increase your mental health. And, if you’ve eaten a little too much fudge, milk, and cookies, one of your New Year’s Resolutions might be to shed those extra pounds that might have made their sneaky way to your waistline.
On the flip side, you’re probably also remembering all the times the goals fell by the wayside. You’re not alone in having that struggle. In fact, most New Year’s resolutions don’t end up getting reached. So how can you set good goals?
1. Make Them Specific
According to psychologists Edwin Locke and Gary Latham, making your goals specific is one of the most effective ways to make sure they get done. In fact, one of their studies showed that being specific led to setting more realistic goals 90% of the time! So, instead of saying “I want to get better grades this semester,” try saying something like “I want to get above an 80% in all my classes.”
2. Make Them Challenging
Sometimes the goals we set are just too easy. When that happens, we can still get some degree of satisfaction from checking them off our list. But we don’t experience the personal growth that we would have if we had made goals that pushed us more. There’s a part of human nature that likes a challenge. We enjoy putting ourselves to the test and seeing what we’re really capable of doing, even if it seems hard at the time. Setting goals that are challenging – but not so difficult that they’re unachievable – is one of the keys to success.
3. Use Mental Contrasting
Mental Contrasting is a technique that was developed by motivation psychologist Gabriele Oettingen to help people set realistic goals. It’s pretty easy to do, but you’ll need a quiet place where you can spend a couple minutes thinking. First, think about the goal itself and how it would make your life so much better to work towards it and, finally, achieve it. Next, bring in reality: think about all the obstacles that could get in the way of reaching the goal. Once you think you have a pretty realistic idea of those, compare the benefits of the goal with the effort and risks it would take to pursue it. If the benefits win out, go for it! If not, it might be a good idea to re-evaluate or pick a different goal.
4. Look Ahead
When setting New Year’s Resolutions, it’s important to make sure they’ll still be important to you in a month – and in two, in six, and even further down the road! Loss of interest and motivation is one of the biggest goal-killers, so be sure to set goals that you think can stand the test of time.
What are some of your New Year’s resolutions? Your ideas may inspire someone else, so please feel free to share in the ‘comments’ section below!
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