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New Year, New You?
How to REALLY set yourself up for success in 2017
“New year, new you!” I’ve been seeing this phrase a lot lately. Whether I’m scrolling through social media, practicing yoga at my local studio, or catching up with one of my friends, the idea of turning a new leaf in 2017 seems to be alive and well! If you’re like me, you may be tired of hearing about the idea of a “new me” when more often than not, there is no follow through. Maybe you’ve given up altogether on the idea of New Year’s goals because they never seem to work out! Even though admittedly I tend to get excited about the possibility of change this time of year, oftentimes I’ll find that a goal I set for myself was dismissed and forgotten about after a few months, maybe even after a few weeks. Dreams of positive change that were born out of the inspiration and excitement of the New Year, were squandered once the excitement wore down and life resumed back to the way it was. Sometimes it is hard to make sense of this. It wasn’t as though the goals weren’t important to me. Did I set unrealistic expectations for myself? Did I keep the goal secret so that if I failed nobody but me would have to know? Maybe I set myself up for failure from the start! This year, I’m focusing on how I can set myself up for success with my goals.
As a therapist who helps my clients create achievable goals, I have found that goal setting is a bit more complex than we typically realize. One way I help my clients reach their goals in therapy and navigate the complexity of what makes a goal achievable is by using the S.M.A.R.T. goal method. Drawing from this method, I have outlined a few quick tips to help you set yourself up for success with your New Year’s goals. Better yet, use these tips year round to help you set yourself up for success with all of your future goals.
S=Specific M=Measurable A=Attainable R=Realistic T=Timely
- Specific. Be specific with your goals. Avoid setting general goals such as: get healthier, save money, and spend more time with family. Instead, try coming up with a specific goal related to the general goal you wish to achieve. Take the goal of saving money for example. A great way to save money is by opening a savings account, and transferring a portion of your paycheck into the account each month. So the goal changes from simply “save money”, to “save $100 each month and transfer it into a savings account on the last day of the month”. Now it is specific!
- Measurable. Create a goal that you can actually measure your progress on. How do you measure exactly how much money you are saving? If you create a savings account specific to your goal, you can monitor the money you have saved by checking the account balance.
- Attainable. Make your goal attainable! This simply means, setting a goal that is important to you, beneficial to your growth, and adds to your sense of fulfillment in life. Choose something that is meaningful and gives you the motivation to attain it. If I save up $1,200 in one year, I can finally put a down payment on the new car I’ve always wanted. This makes my goal less of a distant concept and more attainable!
- Realistic. I love this one! So often, I see people in my office setting themselves up for failure by creating a goal that is simply unrealistic. It would be great to save $50,000 in one year, but unless this is actually an achievable goal for you, try focusing on a number that makes sense given the sacrifices you are willing to make. For example I know that I could save a lot of money by not going out to dinner with my friends on the weekends. I could set this goal for myself to help my savings goal, but when the weekend rolls around and all of my friends are going out, is it actually realistic that I will pass it up? Probably not. What may be more realistic is that I choose to go out and purchase something for less than $10 on the menu. Or maybe I cook a cheap meal at home and then go out just to spend time with my friends. This will allow me to save money and still engage in an activity that is important to me.
- Timely. Create a timeframe for you goal. It is so much easier to put off a goal that we don’t have a sense of urgency to complete. We end up putting our goal off until we either forget about it or decide it is no longer worth pursuing. Set yourself up for success by creating a goal with a predetermined time frame. If I tell myself I want to save $1,200 in one year by saving $100 a month, I have a timeframe in which to meet my goal which will get me motivated to start ASAP.
Some extra tips!
- Tell someone about your goal! People are far more likely to follow through with their goal if they have informed someone close to them of their goal. This gives us accountability. I like to choose goals that I can do with others so we can help hold each other accountable and motivate one another when we need it. However, be cautious not to fall into the trap of feeling satisfaction from the creation of the goal rather than the actual achievement of the goal.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself! I believe this is one of the main reasons New Year’s goals often fail. We are too critical when we falter! It is a given that at some point, we are going to get off track. Oftentimes when this happens, we feel defeated and quit altogether. To avoid this, don’t set yourself up for failure by thinking that you have to be flawless in pursuit of your goal. Allow for hiccups to occur, identify what went wrong, give yourself some grace, and get back to your goal. Remind yourself of why you set the goal in the first place and remind yourself that you are fully capable of meeting it.
At Solid Foundation Couple and Family Therapy we strive to help our clients be as successful as possible in making positive changes in their life and meeting their goals. Give us a call at (303) 720-6659 to hear how we can help you. Good luck!