OK, so the title might sound a bit harsh. But, really… we do like to take the opportunity to dream a little and make big plans and goals, don’t we?
It’s because dreaming and goal setting are good things!
They instill hope and direction in what can become a monotonous existence. I occasionally find people who have a negative and quite visceral reaction to the idea of New Year’s resolutions. After further questioning, I find that this usually is because goals can be easily broken.
The Science Behind Goals
But broken goals are not generally the reason people choose not to pursue goals. It is the resulting feeling of failure of broken goals that we really avoid.
There is an actual science to setting goals. Companies do it all the time using analytics and projections. There is a lot of effort put into making these goals because if a goal is not met, the consequences can be catastrophic.
When we sit down to make our own resolutions, do we employ the same intentionality?
Or are we two glasses of bubbly in, vowing to our bestie that we won’t have to wear Spanx to next year’s high school reunion?
Goals require ambition and effort. I promise. The dictionary says so.
SO! A goal that is easily broken is essentially due to a lack of ambition or effort on the holder’s part and THAT is where people have a sensitivity toward goals.
Solution: Avoid goal-setting. NO! Please don’t! We just need to make smarter goals. Smarter goals mean more attainable goals.
- S – Specific
- M – Measurable
- A – Attainable
- R – Relevant
- T – Timeline
Dream away, friends.
Write it all down. Goals are defined by the end result. What kind of life are you trying to create? Does this align with your vision?
Want to lose weight? Put in on the list.
Want to read more? Put it on the list.
Want to learn a new skill? Put it on the list.
Want to kick a bad habit? Put it on the list.
And THEN break it down in to bite-sized pieces. Don’t break it down to a molecular level – just in to bite-sized pieces.
I want to lose weight.
- How much?
- What is your current weight? What is the goal weight?
- 50 lbs in a year is a stretch goal. Let’s shoot for 15 lbs?
- It took me a full year to gain 20 lbs. It might take a full year to lose it. I just need to fit back into my work pants by June.
- So – ten pounds gone by June.
- Goal: set. We will get to the details in a minute.
I want to read 21 books this year.
- Why 21? Because my goal for last year was 20. (I actually read more than that, but we are keeping it attainable.)
- There are 12 months in a year so I will need to read between 1-2 books a month to reach this goal.
- One more book than last year is likely doable.
- I want to be smarter. It is a great way to escape, healthily, for a minute. Also, it improves my vocabulary.
- Timeline is 1-2 books every month throughout this year.
- Goal: set. And likely to be smashed. But it is fun to have a goal on the list that you can completely obliterate. It feels so good.
I want to learn to reduce my anxiety.
This is not specific at all. It requires me to dive deeper into what gives me anxiety and then create other goals accordingly. This one is too big, not at all measurable and likely to just give me more anxiety. The real question should be: What gives me anxiety/what triggers my anxiety? How can I reduce or manage that specific thing better this year?
I want to stay on budget this year.
Nope. Not here yet. I will maybe revisit this in February. Don’t really want to talk about it right now. I will focus on those other things during January and add this one later. And that is completely ok.
It Takes 21-28 Days To Develop a Habit
Gift yourself at least that amount of time to make something work for you. If your goal is to lose weight, decide what to do on a daily basis to make that happen. Again, start large and get smaller. Maybe make a goal for January to avoid sugar and carbonated drinks, then revise your goal in February to add on to that, ultimately working your way toward your end goal.
As they say: Don’t try to eat the whole elephant in one bite.
Help You, Help You
Bite-sized goals broken out over the course of a year. You can do it. Aim for little wins. Little wins turn into big wins and before you know it, you are blogging on how to set attainable goals.