New Year, New You.
I and many, many other people around the world look forward to the new year. And whether it’s been a good or a bad year–most of us write down resolutions or goals for the year to come. Why? Because there’s something special about a new year. It’s an opportunity to wipe the slate clean as they say, to start over, to better yourself. And that’s exactly what most of us are trying to do. We vow to be better versions of ourselves.
These resolutions can take many shapes and forms. We promise to be more kind. We promise to read more. We promise to study really hard, to get a job, to exercise more, to be more grateful, to write a book, to run a marathon. There are an infinite number of possibilities and we feel – no, we’re convinced – we can do it all and turn our lives around in one year.
And so the new year begins. We go to that local organic store and buy all the right foods, we go to the gym and slave away at the treadmill, we purchase a very long list of books, we write 500 words every day, we say ‘thank you’ more often, and we power on. We’re on top of the world and no one can stop us. This is exactly how we’d imagined it and it’s the best feeling in the world to know you’ve got this. You’re in control and you’re going to succeed.
But then things slowly start changing. Turns out those superfoods are not that tasty and they’re definitely not worth the money. You’ve been swamped with (home)work so you missed the gym once. And then another time. And, oh, look at that pizza place that opened up around the corner. That’s just too tempting.
And the books? You have a couple under your belt, but as time goes on, that new TV show on Netflix is calling your name. “Watch me, watch me,” it says, and so you give in. The next thing you know you’re lounging in the sofa having a marathon while eating a whole pizza by yourself.
Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that situation – I like Netflix as much as the next person – but it’s not exactly the way to reach your goals, is it?
So, what happened? Where did your endless motivation go off to?
I call it the February Blues. I might’ve made up the name, but the feeling is universal. Studies show that between 35 and 70% abandon their resolutions and goals. And that’s just after one month.
The question is: what went wrong and how can we fix it? How can we read all those books on our list, deal with our coursework, write that book, or become a healthier, fitter person by the end of the year? Here are three steps to achieving your goals.
1. Set achievable goals
Having the wrong goals is the second most common reason for failing to achieve resolutions. Not making enough time to achieve goals or to put in the necessary work is the first, in case you were wondering.
And it’s true. Most of us set unrealistic goals. We want to go from couch potato to marathon runner as fast as possible. We want to read more than a hundred books a year when we haven’t read a hundred in the past five years. We want to write and publish that book even though we just started our writing journey. In short, we want too much too fast.
The solution? Set achievable goals.
- If you want to eat healthier, start by changing one meal. Try it out for a few weeks. Ready for more? Go ahead and change a second meal.
- If you want to read more, start slow. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Instead of wanting to read 100+ books, choose to read just 12. One for every month. If you enjoy reading, you’ll automatically read (plenty) more, but the feeling is different.
- If you want to run a marathon, start by running 2 miles. The next time, run a little farther or faster. Slowly progress.
- If you want to write a book, start by writing every day. Write whatever you want, whenever you want. Enjoy it. If an idea sticks, your book will automatically come together
2. Set deadlines
This is absolutely crucial if you want to achieve your goals. You can start off enjoying yourself, but if you’re serious about these goals, you’re going to need deadlines. Otherwise, what’s to stop you from abandoning your resolutions?
If you’re ready for a commitment, don’t say “I’m going to write a book” Say “I’m going to finish the first three chapters by the end of January”. Again, you don’t have to put crazy pressure on yourself, but you’re going to want to set some kind of deadline to hold yourself accountable. It’s been proven that people are much more motivated if they have a goal or date to work towards.
3. Take babysteps
This is in line with what I’ve said before. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Writing a book doesn’t happen overnight or even in a few weeks. Neither does reading a hundred books or running a marathon. Achieving a goal takes time.
But don’t think of the “end result” too much or you’ll start to feel overwhelmed. Take babysteps. Read 10 pages a day. Write 500 words a day. Go to the gym once a week. Try one healthy, new recipe once a week. Before you know it, you’ll be on a roll and on your way to achieve those goals.
One last piece of advice: breathe and don’t be too hard on yourself. We’ve all been there. Just try your absolute best, be grateful for who you are and what you’ve done so far, and you’ll already be a better version of yourself.
Have you set goals you never achieved? Do you write down resolutions for the new year? Let me know in the comments.