Making resolutions is a tradition for many people who want to start the New Year off fresh and focused. Whether you’re determined to revamp your eating habits, get in shape, start a new business or pursue a new passion, the best way to achieve your resolutions is to break each one down into small steps.
You’ll have a better chance of reaching your goals if you set goals or resolutions you’re truly interested in achieving. Don’t let other people’s expectations or opinions distract you, warns Tami Forman, Forbes contributor and executive director of the nonprofit Path Forward. She suggests penning an extensive list of everything you think you want to achieve and zeroing in on the goals that truly motivate you.
Although a year is a serious amount of time, it’s not infinite. If your list of goals is too long or requires too many changes at once, you’ll be setting yourself up for defeat. According to the American Psychological Association, focusing on altering one behavior, habit or thing in your life at a time is a more proactive way to reach your goals.
Once you have your list of goals, projects or resolutions, you can define each of them even further by applying the S.M.A.R.T method. Introduced decades ago, S.M.A.R.T defines each goal as specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Goals that are broad, completely out-of-reach and lack a set deadline will reduce the likelihood of achievement. You’ll feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of lofty goals, which will quickly deflate your will to follow through on your ambitions.
Although your goals are personal, the APA suggests that you consider joining a support group or sharing your goals with trusted friends, colleagues or family members. This way you have a network with which you can share your progress, both positive and negative. If you have people who will hold you accountable, you will be more likely to see your goals through.
The APA also suggests reaching out for professional help when you suspect you won’t be able to reach your goals on your own; a psychologist can help you connect your thoughts and actions. If your goals are health-related, a nutritionist can advise you on smart eating plans while a personal trainer can instruct you on the proper way to exercise. If your goal is focused on your career or money management, seek out a certified counselor or financial consultant who can guide you.
Writing down goals, sharing them with friends and seeking knowledge will only get you closer to your goals if you do the work consistently. According to Elizabeth Scott, author of “8 Keys to Stress Management,” you must post your goals where you can easily see them to remind yourself of what needs to be done. Complement this by undertaking habits that correlate with and get you closer to your goals, even if it means breaking old habits you’ve fallen into.
Changing a behavior or incorporating something new into your life are real challenges. To keep you striving for your goals, celebrate the victories along the way. Don’t dwell on the missteps or failures; choose instead to learn from them and use that knowledge to propel you forward.
By breaking down your New Year’s resolutions into attainable goals, putting a plan into place, staying focused and accountable to yourself and others, your 2019 will be filled with well-deserved successes.