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As we’re closing the book of 2020, some of us are taking our time to reflect on our year. Since this year came with lots of surprises, some of us weren’t able to achieve our goals. Was it because of the year, or was it that we didn’t set achievable goals?

To be clear, the goal that I’m referring to here is the famous New Years’ resolutions. While many decided to quit some bad habits, some have difficulties keeping their promises after a few weeks.

When the clock hits midnight on January 1st, 2021, do we change from the person we were at 11:59 pm on December 31st, 2020? I don’t think so. The saying “New Year, New Me” gets old after hearing it every year and still see the same people being the same person they were last year.

Hence why many people have mixed feelings about New Year’s resolutions. Some people say that you shouldn’t bother about it because you never actually quit doing what you said you’d stop doing. And some think that a one-year goal is too long.

What is a New Years’ resolution?

First, what does the word resolution mean? In Emmerance’s terms, a resolution is a decision you make to stop or change a behaviour or habit. In the New Years’ resolution context, people decide to stop a bad habit or change themselves for the better.

With the above meaning, we can say that having a New Years’ resolution isn’t that bad. It’s actually a good thing. When you spend a year making the same mistakes because of that one bad habit, then it’s only fair that you’d like to change next year.

The issue here is that we think that as the clock hit midnight on January 1st, we become a brand new person. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. It takes more than just a change of time to be a “new” you.

Why most of the New Years’ resolutions fail?

When we set up our mind for a “New Year, New Me,” we tend to forget that it takes so much work to get it done. The first reason that people fail to do is to not set a goal on their resolutions.

The sad part about not setting a goal is that you will most likely forget about it after a few months or even days. You will go back to your usual comfortable self because you didn’t set goals for your resolution.

The second reason that people fail is that they don’t have clarity of the resolution’s purpose. When you set up a big goal, it’s going to be super easy for you to get discouraged to continue. There are many reasons for it; you will either get scared of the change or lack of motivation.

The third reason is the lack of internal motivation; this goes hand in hand with the lack of clarity of the resolution’s purpose. When you don’t have any encouragement or affirmation that you DO want to change, it will be tough for you to accept the process.

Some people think that they shouldn’t have a New Years’ resolution because they never achieve them. To help you understand New Years’ resolution, we will replace the term New Years’ resolution with the term goals. Because that’s what it is, a New Years’ resolution is a goal that we want to achieve.

What should you do if you want to set achievable goals?

If you’re going to have a New Years’ resolution, you have to know precisely what you want. Not what others are expecting from you, but what you desire to achieve.

Know what is your goal

You have to ask yourself hard questions to ensure that the goal is yours. To do so, you have to ask yourself what influences your decision to set that goal. 

Is it the media that’s making you want to lose weight? Is it your family that wants you to stop smoking? Are you doing it because society expects you to, or are your friends or colleagues influencing you? 

If you’re going to set goals, make sure that it’s yours. When you set goals that come from your own choices, you will be more driven to achieve them. It wouldn’t matter how far you’ll have to go to achieve it. You will be motivated along the way because the choice is yours.

Write down your goals.

The best way to assure that you’re going to meet the goal is to write it down on a paper.

The benefit of writing down your goals is to signal your brain or subconscious mind that you’re serious about it. Once you do that, make it a habit to read your goals twice a day.

For example, let’s say that you would like to lose some weight. Write down precisely how much you’re trying to lose on a paper and the date you want to achieve it. Then, when you wake up and before going to bed, read it out loud. “By December 1st, 2021, I want to lose 30 pounds.”

If you’re unsure of what goal to focus on for the year, you can do the following exercise.

Take a piece of paper and write down at least 25 goals. These goals have to be achievable within a year or less. It can be anything you want; write down anything you think you can achieve.

After you wrote down at least 25 goals, combine your goals into bigger goals or similar ones.

Once that’s done, you can now look at which goals are more critical for you. To help you, you can put them on a scale of 1 to 3, 1 being the most important and three the least important.

After that, pick five significant goals from the ones that ranked #1 in the previous step. You will now focus on these five goals and forget the rest. You will only work on those you didn’t choose only when you have accomplished the five goals.

Know the purpose behind your goals.

Now that you have your goals, the last and most important thing to do is to know the real reason why you want to achieve your goal.

The reason has to be big enough that it scares you a little. You need to dream big here, almost as if you will accomplish the impossible. It’s crucial to do this because this will motivate you to complete and even start working on your goals TODAY.

That’s right; you don’t need to wait until January 1st to start working on it. You can start working on your goals as soon as you know what it is.

To help you know the real purpose behind your goals, you can ask yourself the following questions;

What do you think will happen to you if you achieve this goal? (Describe how it feels.)

Does this goal mean anything to you? If yes, what does it mean?

Does it matter, and why?

Why do you want to achieve this goal?

These are simple sample questions you can ask yourself. However, don’t be afraid of asking yourself more questions. Go deep in it. Don’t stop until you know the real reason why you want to achieve the goals.

When you have the real reason you want to accomplish your goal, you’re good to go. There will be doubts along the way, and I understand that change isn’t always comfortable nor easy to accept. So I have a few book recommendations that helped me throughout the year.

Mindset by Carol Dweck

Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy

Atomic Habits by James Clear

You can also find more books recommendations here.

Also, to help you achieve your goal throughout the year, I highly recommend to make a vision board or write a letter to your future self. 

You can also have an accountability partner or do it with someone. I made a workbook for you to print and brainstorm your goals.

Know that you can achieve anything you set your mind to

Have faith in yourself; I encourage you to affirm and change the way you talk to yourself. Just as I described in How to Turn Self-Criticism into Self-Love, understand that you’re going to have set back and that it won’t be easy.

However, if you go through the steps of identifying your goals, I’m convinced you will achieve them. Remember, your goals don’t have to be for the year. It can be for a quarter or a few months. Try different ways of achieving your goals also, and get the right tools for it.

I wish you all the best on your journey.

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