Forget New Year’s Resolutions, Try Goal Setting Instead!

Happy new year! January is a time for setting resolutions, starting resolutions and pretty soon, giving up on those resolutions. The truth is, I don’t like New Year’s resolutions, because resolutions are almost always doomed to fail.

You say New Year’s resolutions and people start listing giant, vague or unattainable things:


Don’t get me wrong.

None of these are bad, but most of them stated as is…

Are Doomed To Fail.

So instead of setting resolutions, let’s focus on setting goals!

GoalSettingWhen you set goals, you create motivation, structure and an end point to work towards. Setting goals is nothing new to most of us, but the key is learning to set good goals!

Last year I focused on the major mistakes we make when we set goals. This year, I wanted to bring you five goal setting tips to help you achieve success:

1. Set realistic goals: We often set goals that are unattainable. While it’s good to aim high, you want to be realistic. Saying “I’m going to lose 50 pounds this year” might be doable for some people, but for most of us a 2-2.5 pound loss per month is more realistic, so setting a goal larger than 30 pounds may be dooming yourself before you’ve even started. Seek input from others, whether friends, family or experts, when setting goals. For example if you’re looking at losing weight, talk to your doctor, a coach or a nutritionist about what might be realistic for you.

2. Set specific goals: Setting vague goals is another reason people give up on their goals. If you don’t know what you’re working towards, it’s easier to get frustrated and walk away. Saying”I’m going to exercise more” is not a bad place to start, but determining what that might look like is even better! Maybe you decide you want to run 3 days per week or maybe you prefer to do yoga 2 days per week.

Getting specific, means you know exactly what you need to do to meet your goal!

3. Set short-term goals: Setting a goal to run 4 days per week is definitely attainable, but you’re going to be a lot more successful if break down your long-term goal into short-term goals and shape your behavior, like running 1 day per week, then 2, then 3 etc. It doesn’t just make it easier to meet your goals if you set smaller sub-goals, it also gives you a reason to celebrate the smaller milestones along the way, which will keep you motivated!


4. Create a plan: Once you’ve set realistic, specific long-term and short-term goals, you want to make sure you create a plan for how you’re going to achieve those goals. Writing it down, solidifies your goals, holds you accountable and decreases the chance that you’ll feel overwhelmed or lost and give up.

5. Measure your progress: You want a way to measure progress. I’m a behavior analyst and data geek, so I’m measuring my behavior all the time. You don’t have to get super fancy about it; you can use an app like MyFitnessPal or TrainingPeaks, a notebook or a dry-erase board. Whatever you choose, just make sure you have a way to track progress.


Seeing your success is motivating!

It’s also a useful way to identify when things aren’t going so well and allows you to make adjustments and changes before it’s too late. Not losing weight? Analyzing your progress can help you determine if you need to change your diet or modify your goals. Having a hard time following your weekly excerise plan? tracking your progress gives you a chance to tweak your plan and get back on the right track.

So remember:

Realistic, Specific Long-term and Short-term Goals with a Written Plan of Action and a System for Tracking Progress!

And if you need help setting goals or creating a plan, my Behavior Basics team and I are here to help!


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