This time of year, many of us are planning ahead and setting goals. Whether we actually achieve them is another story; statistics say about 80% of resolutions aren’t achieved and that most of us quit by February.
There are lots of suggestions out there for how to achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself; making them SMART goals, having an accountability partner, and breaking them down into smaller steps, to name a few. So instead, I’m going to use this blog to encourage you to think about whether you’re setting goals you’ll be less likely to give up on, and ones that might bring you some joy this year.
According to Gallup, excellence is achieved by focusing on your strengths, not fixating on your weaknesses. While you can improve in the areas you’re weak in, where you’ll really see the best results is in the areas in which you’re naturally talented. So if you don’t excel at communication, but you’re a natural learner, finding a new podcast about something you’re interested in every month or learning how to edit one may be goals better suited to you than starting a podcast yourself.
Or, if you have your heart set on starting that podcast, think about what strengths you can use to get it done; for example, instead of focusing on being an amazing communicator, use your talent for learning to research how to make a great podcast and be an effective host.
Did you choose the goal because it’s something you really want to do or an area you actually want to improve in? Or did you choose it because it will impress people, because it seems like everyone else is doing it, or because it’s something you’re “supposed to” do? Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on what might actually bring you joy. I know – easier said than done. It’s hard to avoid those comparisons, and we all fall into that trap sometimes, but try to be honest with yourself about your motivations. It’s hard to stick with a goal when your heart’s not really in it.
If you’re having a hard time getting past those negative comparisons, you’re not alone. There are lots of suggestions out there that might help; for example, this article from Healthline recommends strategies like giving your inner critic a name, treating yourself like a friend, and keeping a record of your achievements.
It’s important to make goals that are actually achievable. I’m not saying you should make super easy goals that don’t require you to stretch yourself – what I mean is that it needs to be realistically possible to accomplish. It makes it much more frustrating when you’re working toward something that, due to circumstances beyond your control, just isn’t likely to happen.
How big of a behavior change will it require? Reading 5% more books than you did last year is probably doable. Reading 10 times more books than you did last year is probably going to require you to completely overhaul the way you spend your time. It may be technically possible for you to get there, but it’s asking a lot of yourself.
Will circumstances make it difficult? Traveling somewhere new may not be the goal for you if, for example, there’s a pandemic going on, you don’t have the money to spend on it, or you don’t have the vacation time or the ability to work remotely. It’ll be a constant reminder of something you want but, for whatever reason, can’t have – with the added bonus of making you feel like you’ve failed when you don’t achieve it. It’s probably better to focus on something more attainable; maybe instead of traveling, you can try exploring some new places in your hometown or completely unplugging from work when you take time off.
I hope these tips help you create some great goals for this year. And if you don’t achieve them, don’t worry – remember that, with 80% of resolutions not being achieved, you’re in good company. Here’s to a brighter and more joyful 2021!
Looking for more guidance on goal setting? Reach out to my teammates at Purple Ink – we offer training on the topic and individual coaching sessions!