We see it each year, gyms fill up on January 2nd and become ghost towns by February 1st. Unless you are the manager of a gym, this suggests that the common approach to New Year’s resolutions needs to be reimagined. Maybe next year you want to be more productive in the lab, spend more time collaborating, be better at taking time off on weekends, or dedicate more of your time to writing. Whatever your goal, these tips will help you approach your resolution in a way that is sustainable and achievable.
New Year’s resolutions are exciting and it can be easy to set a lofty goal that in reality is unattainable. When you can’t reach this goal it is discouraging and can set back any progress you have made. This is a case when the old saying, “shoot for the moon and even if you miss you’ll land among the stars,” does not apply. Instead, set realistic goals that can help you along the way to your ideal outcome.
Set SMART goals
Once you have decided what you want to accomplish further improve your goals by making them SMART. This type of goal-setting involves setting targets that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
1. Specific- The goal should not be abstract or vague. Do not just say, “I want to spend more time writing.” Instead say, “I will write for 5 hours per week.”
2. Measurable- For something like weight loss or time spent doing something this may be more obvious, but even for goals that may seem more abstract find a quantifiable way to track progress.
3. Achievable- This goes back to being realistic, if you set a goal that you have no hope of ever achieving, you will quickly give up.
4. Relevant- When setting a goal you have to make sure you are not doing it for the wrong reasons. A goal that comes out of a quick moment of passion or from a place of self-hate or remorse, is not likely to last. Instead, goals should be set after serious contemplation and come from a desire to improve your life.
5. Time-bound- The timeline for reaching your goal should also be realistic, You should not expect change to happen overnight.
A goal that has these attributes will be easier to achieve because you will be able to track your progress over time and see the results.
When setting goals, it is also helpful to take time to anticipate obstacles you may run into along the way. By acknowledging that there will be difficulties, you can be more prepared to handle them when they do arise and let them become less of a setback.
Make a plan
Once you have your goal in mind it is time to develop a plan to achieve it. For example, if you want to eat healthier you may stock your fridge with healthy food, plan your meals in advance, and decide how many times you will eat out per week. Being prepared will prevent you from impulsively reaching for junk food when hunger strikes. Apply this same idea to make sure you know the steps you need to take to meet your goal.
When breaking a habit or trying something new, there are going to be mistakes and challenges along the way. A very common pitfall is letting one small setback put an end to your efforts. Rather than thinking about the negative, focus on the positive that you have already accomplished and work toward getting back on track. Don’t be to hard on yourself, you are still making an amazing change!
Find a buddy
Having someone to hold you accountable will make you more likely to stick to your goals and making changes with a friend is just a lot more fun! You and your New Year buddy don’t even need to be working toward the same thing, you should just know what each other's goals are and check-in with them regularly. If you do have the same goal, that is great too, just be careful not to turn it into a competition, this can be really discouraging if one person falls behind.
Don’t think of it as temporary change
It can be really easy to make a drastic change for the short-term. For example, it might be easy to give up TV cold turkey for 30 days, but this is likely not a change you could sustain for the rest of your life. Rather than thinking of your New Year’s resolution as a drastic and temporary change, instead think of it as a long-term lifestyle change. Going back to our television example, maybe you limit yourself to three hours of TV per week rather than none at all.
Assemble the best tools
Especially in today’s digital age, there are plenty of tools to help you along the way as you work toward your goals. For example, there are online tools to help end writer's block, a Pomodoro timer or online data collection system like Conseris can help with productivity, and introducing a new collaboration tool like Slack can improve collaboration in your workplace. While the major change will come from within, make it easier by having access to helpful tools.
Hopefully, with these tips your New Year’s resolution will be a long-term success. What is your New Year’s resolution? Let us know on Twitter, @conserisapp.
Conseris is a data collection app that combines customizable forms, unlimited storage, and intelligent algorithms to help you gather, organize and analyze data like never before. Learn more.