The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals. –Melody Beattie
A new year, a clean slate, a fresh start. Do you find that you have a hard time keeping New Year’s resolutions? Do you set the same goals every year without ever achieving them? Here are some tips to help you set and achieve your goals for 2018.
1. Write your goals down
Whether you write them down in a notebook, your journal, a blog post, or on a scrap piece of paper, take the time to translate your dreams into realistic, achievable goals. Research shows that the act of writing down goals makes you much more likely to actually achieve them.
2. Be SMART
When writing your goals, make sure they are SMART:
- Specific: Try to make your goal as detailed as possible. For example, if you’d like to start a blog in 2018, don’t just write “Start a blog”. A better goal would be “Start a food blog with a focus on low-carb recipes” or “Start a health and fitness blog for busy moms”.
- Measurable: How will you know if you’ve achieved your goal if you can’t measure it? Make sure you can quantify your goal. For example, instead of “Exercise more”, write “Exercise 3 times a week for 30 minutes.”
- Achievable: Is this goal realistic? Do you have the time, motivation, talent, and/or money to achieve this goal? Goals should challenge you but not set you up for failure.
- Relevant: Is this goal worthwhile? Does it align with your current objectives and your long-term goals?
- Time bound: A goal without an end date is just a dream. Set a realistic timeline for achieving your goal. Whether it’s 6 months or 2 years, make sure you have an end date that you can work towards. For more on this, read on.
3. Set deadlines
Treat your goals as projects or tasks to complete. Schedule time to complete your goals. Add reminders and deadlines on your phone or in your agenda to keep you on track. If a goal doesn’t fit into your life then you either need to rethink the goal or shift some other priorities to make time for this goal.
4. Have a plan
Have a plan of action. For each of your goals, write down the steps required to achieve this goal. How long will each step take? Do any of your goals depend on the success of another goal? How will this affect the deadlines you set for yourself?
5. Review your goals often
Whether you do this on a daily or weekly basis, make sure to review your goals frequently and evaluate your progress. What steps do you need to complete today or this week to stay on track with your goal? When the steps required to achieve your goal are always on your mind, they become second nature, a road map for all of your actions. Not reviewing your goals can also mean that you lose your motivation, your drive, your desire to achieve these goals.
6. Share your goals (selectively)
There are opposing views on this one. Some studies have shown that sharing your goal with someone else will increase the likelihood of you achieving that goal. It makes you accountable and reinforces your commitment. On the other hand, others have suggested that since just the act of sharing your goal gives you a small sense of achievement or satisfaction, it actually makes you less motivated to work as hard to achieve your goal. So what does that mean? I think that any benefit you get from sharing your goals will depend on your personality. Some people will work hard to achieve their goals no matter what. Others need to have someone else to check in with and keep them motivated. What kind of person are you?
7. Give yourself permission to fail
Failure doesn’t mean giving up. Sometimes you might need to rethink your goal, make sure it’s still SMART. Are you trying to do too much and setting yourself up for failure? Maybe now is just not the right time for this goal, maybe you need to give yourself more time or achieve some other goals first. If this goal is something that you really want to achieve, you’ll get there in time.
What goals are you setting this year?