5 reasons your New Years resolutions aren't working
How long did your New Year's resolutions last?
You took a break to spend time with family and friends over the winter holiday. You were away from work with time to spare and made some big plans for the coming year. Then January came crashing in with dark days and cold weather, and it's a struggle just to get to work, let alone make grand life changes.
It's no surprise that many of us have given up on New Years Resolutions by mid-February, but don’t write those plans off yet. There’s still time to make it work.
Here’s a quick guide to SMART goals, and where most people go wrong.
What is a SMART goal?
- S – Specific
- M - Measurable
- A - Attainable
- R - Relevant
- T - Timebound
1. S is for Specific
If you aren’t specific enough when setting goals, you won’t know what you’re really aiming for. So, what’s the grand plan? What is it exactly?
How will you know when you’ve reached it? If your goal for the year is to be fitter, be more specific. Abstract goals are impossible to reach. How will you know when you’re fitter? How will you feel? What will you be able to do? What will you have?
Do you want to run a marathon? Take part in sports? Keep up with the children or run for a bus without gasping for air? How will this goal make things better for you? Be as specific as you can and write down your goal.
2. M is for Measurable
Any goal needs to be measurable. If you don’t know when you’ve reached it, how can you succeed? If you aren’t measuring your progress you won’t know whether your actions are working. This is essential for staying motivated. Keeping track of all your actions and results will let you see what's working and what isn’t, and you can change things before you go too far off track. By keeping track like this you could find that you are doing better than you realise.
3. A is for Attainable
Big goals are great, and having long term goals can give you a sense of purpose, but day to day they can seem too big, too unreal, and too far away to reach.
Being aware of what you can achieve is essential for goal setting. Have a think about whether you need other support in place, or need to develop your skills further to make your goal more attainable.
You also need to take into account other commitments that you have. A goal to travel around the world for a year is less attainable if you have a family in tow and a mortgage to pay, but planning some places to visit for family holidays would be achievable.
4. R is for Relevant
Is this your goal or does it belong to someone else? If you are following someone else's agenda you won't have the motivation or will power to keep going.
What would you like to do? Do you really want this to happen? Will getting this goal really solve the issue for you or is it a distraction from something else you need? Have a think about how much are you really committed to this? Everything you do is a choice. How much time and energy are you really willing to spend on this goal?
5. T is for Time
It’s the time frame of a goal that will keep you motivated and able to measure your progress. Just as you need to break smaller goals down into achievable steps, you need to break down the time frame for your goal.
If your goal is to write a novel but you have no timeline, it’s possible you will never get started. If your goal is to write a novel in a year, it sounds better. But a year seems like forever, until it's nearly over and you haven't got started. If this was something you wanted to do, work out how much you can comfortably write in a month, then divide it by four. That’s your new weekly goal.
Breaking big goals down into smaller stages like this makes your goal feel more within reach. You can measure your progress and each achievement will build on the next, raising your confidence at the same time.
Setting goals and managing change
If you are struggling with resolutions or a life change, go through the list above and see if you’ve missed anything. Sometimes we need to change our timeline or break things down into smaller steps to make things more attainable. Likewise, if a goal isn’t challenging enough, reaching it won’t boost your confidence or give you a sense of achievement. If this is the case, how would you feel about increasing your goal? New behaviours take time before they become habits, so start small and don’t beat yourself up if you can’t see progress right away. Taking action can be an achievement in itself.
If you find yourself sabotaging your own efforts, ask yourself what the risk is to you if you are successful. Keep reminding yourself of your specific goal and how you will feel when you get there. Tell people about what you are doing so they can support you and hold you accountable for your progress.
Smart goals are just one of the many tools used in life coaching. A life coach can support you through change, help you to create a plan that works for you and help you to take positive action to improve your life.
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