This year, I’ll lose weight.
This year, I’ll stop drinking.
This year, I’ll leave my job and start working for myself.
This year, I’ll spend less money.
If you’ve ever spent December 31st writing a list of promises to yourself, pledging to change in a million ways over the next 365 days, you’re not alone. We’ve all done it! But, be honest with yourself–how many times have you actually succeeded at changing?
I’ve written my fair share of failed New Year’s resolutions, so I decided to try something new in 2016. I switched to making goals for myself instead of resolutions, and it actually worked! I started saving, started a side hustle/creative outlet and ramped up my freelance game, all in one year. It wasn’t easy to keep myself on track, but setting goals instead of making resolutions made it a lot easier.
Here’s how to set goals that you’ll be able to stick to.
Don’t be too hard on yourself for the year that just passed.
Before you start planning for 2017, it’s a good idea to recap and reflect on 2016. Think about what you’ve accomplished, what you wanted to achieve but didn’t, and what you wish you could have done differently. Be honest, but don’t be too hard on yourself. So even if you didn’t lose the 5kg you wanted to, don’t write off the year as a failure. Give yourself some credit for the things you achieved, even if they’re as small as reducing your monthly credit from 30 cedis to 25 cedis (shoutout to Vodafone X!).
Set specific goals, not abstract resolutions
The difference between resolutions and goals is a simple yet very important one: unlike resolutions, goals are tangible and attainable. Instead of promising yourself that you’ll lose weight, a resolution that you could easily fail at, set goals for yourself to exercise more, eat better and adopt a more healthy lifestyle. If you achieve all those three goals, you will lose weight, which is your original goal. But by breaking the abstract resolution down into separate smaller goals, you make it a lot easier for yourself to track your progress and actually deliver on your promises.You can even go one step further with those goals and make them even more specific–to work out at least 3 times a week, and to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Set goals that you care about and are personal to you.
Trust me, if you set goals you’re not personally invested in, you will never succeed at them. Just because everyone else is going to grad school doesn’t mean you have to set it as a goal for yourself! If you’re not motivated, it’s going to be very hard to convince yourself to work at the goal throughout the year, and when you do your 2017 roundup you’ll just be discouraged for 2018. Make goals that you are personally invested in, even if they don’t make sense to anyone but you and might seem silly. Not every goal has to be a big life commitment. Let’s say you’ve never tried lobster, but you want to know what it tastes like–make that a 2017 goal!
Write down your goals somewhere to keep yourself accountable.
If you don’t write down your goals how will you check on your progress as the year goes on? You can write them down in a journal, tweet them, write a Facebook post, send yourself an email, create a Google doc, or even save a note in your phone. Whatever you do, make sure you save them somewhere you can check on them from time to time and evaluate your progress overall at the end of the year.
Be flexible and remember that your goals can change at any time.
I know this post is the guide to setting New Year’s goals, but that doesn’t mean you can only set goals in January. You can set short term goals that you want to achieve within a couple of months, like learning a new skill, or long term goals that you know will take a couple of years to complete, like earning a graduate degree. You can reevaluate your goals in January, March, or even in November, and it won’t matter as long as you set reasonable, tangible and personal goals.