Goal Setting 101
The new year symbolizes a fresh start, a new chapter, or a clean slate for many people. As we are nearing the end of January, it's about this time of year when many people watch their progress slip away and count down the days until next January. Are you finding it hard to stick to your New Year's resolutions? You are not alone; in fact, you're in the majority. A study from Scranton University says that only 19% of people keep their resolutions. So, why is it so hard to follow through? It starts in the beginning, with goal setting.
Goals should fit the following criteria: specific, realistic, and measurable.
Losing 50 pounds in one month is ambitiously unrealistic. It's far more important to take baby steps and develop habits rather than shooting for the stars. Take time to reflect on your habits, what you like and don't like, and then pick a small step you can take towards change. After a while, these baby steps will become significant strides toward progress.
In addition, we're too hard on ourselves. If we slip up and skip a gym session, we often feel like we've failed and should give up on our resolution altogether. It's important to give yourself room to grow, be kind to yourself, and not give up just because of a tiny setback.
Goals should be measurable because how else will you know when you've achieved them if there's nothing to track? Don't set a goal like "I want to succeed in school"; zone in on something tangible like "I want to get a B+ in my statistics class this semester."
To make this even easier, we have an acronym to help you remember. Just follow the goal-setting ABCs: achievable, believable, and committed.
Why Goal Setting is Important (even though it feels like a chore)
We all know that setting goals is important. Goals help us stay on track and achieve our wildest dreams, whether it's landing that dream job or getting out of bed in the morning. But let's be honest, who wants to sit down and think of everything they want to accomplish and everything they're doing wrong?
Here's the thing, goal setting doesn't have to be a chore. Goals can give you a newfound sense of direction and prevent you from wandering through life aimlessly. They also help you analyze and break down your life and eliminate all the little barriers preventing you from becoming your best self.
It can be fun! First, pick an area you want to improve: academics, stress, sleeping, eating habits, exercise, etc.
Then, make achieving the goal something you'll look forward to achieving! Treat yourself!
For example: "I want to improve my motivation for studying by giving myself something to look forward to each week." This could be planning a fun night out with friends for the weekend or booking a massage for when you finish that big exam.
Another could be: "I want to decrease my stress levels by spending 1 hour outside every day". This could mean skating on the lake or walking to your favourite coffee shop downtown!
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU FEEL STUCK
We've all been there. When you set a goal with the best intentions but can't make any progress, you can fall into a rut of disappointment and self-doubt. If you're finding yourself in a spiral of negativity, here are some things you can do to shake things up and get back on track.
Develop a balanced daily routine that works for you, and build in time for meals, exercise, and even relaxation time. Try to find a motivated friend looking to do the same, perhaps an accountability partner, who will help you stay on track.
At the end of the day, it's important to remember that some change is better than no change. So go forth and fail gloriously! Failing is often the best way to learn, and it's important to remember that setbacks do not define your progress. A win is a win no matter how "small"!
EVERY DAY IS NEW YEAR'S DAY!
Who cares if it's not January 1st! You can set a new goal today!
Remember that setting and achieving goals is challenging, and you are not alone in your struggles. It's normal to encounter obstacles along the way. The key is not to be hard on yourself and focus on your progress!
Our final piece of advice is to start small. Break down your larger goal into bite-sized, manageable chunks. With a little determination, patience, and permission to fail, you'll be able to cross those goals off your list in no time!