It’s that time of year again. The slate is wiped clean, we get a do-over, and we set new goals for all that we want to accomplish in the coming year. Many of us make casual New Year’s resolutions, others of us set big goals. In whichever camp you find yourself, if you are serious about your goals, here are a few great ways to improve your chances of achieving them.
1. Write them down.
Yes, this is simple, and maybe obvious, but do you do it?
One study showed you are 42% more likely to achieve your goal if you write it down. Why? Writing your goals down makes you think about them differently. It helps you refine them, get them right, and makes the goal real. Even better? Tell someone about your goal and your chances of success go up even more.
2. Break it down.
If you focus solely on the outcome of your goal, without planning how you will get there, you are much more likely to fail. The easiest way I have found to plan, is to begin with the end in mind, and work backwards breaking the big goal up into smaller pieces.
For example: Let’s say your goal is to lose 50 pounds in 2019, to get to a weight of 150. That is a great, big goal. If we break it down, however, it becomes much more manageable: divide the 50 pounds, by 12 months, to get 4.17 pounds per month. Now, break it down by week.
How does losing just over 1 pound each week sound? It’s totally achievable, right? The next step would be to put a plan together to lose 1 pound per week — a more manageable task to figure out than losing 50 over the year.
By breaking our big goals down into smaller, digestible chunks, we make them easier to achieve and track, and easier to return to, if we fall off track.
You can apply this same principle to any big goal or life vision. To reach your goal in a year, think about where you will need to be and what you need to be doing in six months, three months, one month. What do you need to be doing next week to get to that one month mark? What do you need to do tomorrow, or today?
3. Track Your Progress and Celebrate Milestones
In addition to writing down that big goal, write down the mini-steps it will take you to get there and as you achieve each one, tick it off, cross it out, whatever it takes to acknowledge that YOU DID IT! Ticking of a to-do item has actually been shown to release dopamine in your brain, which will make you want to do it again.
Each step you accomplish brings you one step closer to your big goal. If you don’t track your progress, you can’t acknowledge it. When you see that you’ve achieved something, it helps you maintain the motivation to keep going.
And finally, one bonus tip: if you don’t achieve a daily, weekly or even monthly goal, don’t get mad at yourself, don’t judge yourself and most importantly, don’t give up on yourself. Review and remind yourself what you have accomplished so far, make adjustments to your mini-goals if necessary, and move on. You've got this!