I have always hated the concept of the “New Year’s resolution.” It has always seemed contrived to me, and the vast majority of resolutions I have made at this time of year don’t remain in place for very long. Most are a distant memory by mid-February. And I am highly confident that most of you have had a similar experience.
Why is that? Why do most New Year’s resolutions fail to stick? Well, perhaps it is because I am weak and bad at goal setting. (But I think an honest of review of my life would suggest this is not the case.) Or perhaps it is because there is something about the whole process that is flawed. So, let’s proceed under the assumption that I am not the problem, and there is something about the process that is off. (FYI, that’s one of my resolutions for 2022… stronger self confidence!)
But all joking aside, why do the vast majority of resolutions fail, and fail quickly? Why do most fade into memory before winter is over? I have been thinking about this a lot over the last few weeks, mostly because over the past week I have had at least four people ask me what my resolutions are for 2022.
I am sure there are lots of studies that have been done on this, and I am sure there is some valid data from those studies. But from my experience, and having discussed this with lots of people, there are a few elements of successful goal setting that need to be in place. And when they aren’t in place, the goal has very little chance of ever being achieved:
- Goals should be set for the things that matter to us, not just because everyone else is doing it. All my friends are setting goals… I guess I should also. That’s not exactly the foundation for outstanding achievement. When there is something that matters to you, that you want to change, then set a goal. Not just because that is what everyone else is doing at a specific moment.
- Goals should be set at any time, not only at a specific time of year. Oh, it is almost January… time for me to set some goals now. That seems silly. Goal setting can and should happen at any point of the year, not just when we flip the calendar.
- Goals should be tangible. The more vague, the less likely anything will change. I want to go to the gym twice per week is a much stronger goal than I want to go to the gym more often.
- Goals should be set over a realistic time frame, so you can evaluate progress. Instead of setting a goal for the entire year, how about setting a goal for a month? Make it something ambitious, but realistic. With a reasonable time frame. Make it more of a sprint, and less of a marathon. Instead of this is my goal for the year, how about this is my goal for the month or this is my goal for the week. That seems much more likely to lead to a good outcome.
Goal setting can be a highly valuable process. But it needs to be done correctly. When we set goals that matter to us, whenever we see something that needs to change, and when they are set tangibly and realistically, we have a much greater chance for success. And then the process can begin feeding on itself. Success breeds success.
So, don’t ask me what my new year’s resolutions are… I don’t have any. I have goals… lots of them. All the time. But they are not limited to this time of year. They tend to be tangible and realistic, about things that matter to me. And those are the goals that have the greatest chance of being achieved.
There are a lot of goal oriented people in the Latimer Community. And I am sure there are lots of opinions out there about goal setting. Please share!
Have a great day, and happy new year!
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