How to Make Goals for the New Year

November 5, 2018

How to Make Goals for the New Year

Did you reach the goals you set last year? I didn’t reach all of mine. And if you’re with me on that, we are not alone. 

According to Statistic Brain, only 8% of people who make New Year’s Resolutions or New Year’s Goals actually keep them. Now that’s kind of discouraging, isn’t it? 92% of us won’t meet our goals? It’s tempting to not even bother and just do something with your time that you know you can accomplish — like binging a show on Netflix. That you know you can do.

Well, before you fire up the TV, consider the alternative to not setting goals: you stay exactly where you are. You don’t change. You don’t grow. I’m not willing to do that, so even with the odds against me, I will continue to make goals. Who’s with me?

Plus when we don’t meet a goal, we can learn from the experience. We can ask ourselves:

  • Why didn’t I hit that goal?
  • What should I have done differently?
  • What can I do to meet my goals in the future?

If we reflect on the answers to those questions, we can position ourselves to be successful with making goals in the future.

Here’s how to make goals for the new year that you will be more likely to meet.

Make Goals Not Resolutions

If you typically make New Year’s Resolutions, I challenge you to transition to making goals for the year. New Year’s Resolutions tend to be vague, general declarations, like “I resolve to lose weight,” “I resolve to save more,” or “I resolve to be a better parent.”

Resolving to save more money or to be a better parent are wonderful aspirations, but leaving it at that is too general. How are you going to save more money? How much? And by when? What does being a better parent look like? How will you achieve that? Making goals zeroes in on the specifics of your resolutions.

Write Your Goals Down

Studies have shown that you have a better chance of reaching your goals if you write them down. When a goal is merely floating around in your head, it’s just a dream; it’s just an idea, and it’s mixed in with all the other millions of thoughts that cross your mind. Committing your goals to paper brings them into reality and makes them “tangible.”

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Make SMART goals

Writing down your goals is an important key to achieving them. Now take it a step further by making each goal SMART. Commonly used in the corporate world, SMART is an acronym that provides the five characteristics a goal should have if it is to be met. There are a few variations to the acronym; however, we’ll explore just one. If you want to meet your goals, each one must be:

  • Specific — Your goals cannot be general. What specifically are you looking to achieve? The more detailed your goal is, the more likely you are to meet it.
  • Measurable — Your goals must be quantifiable. Think numbers here. How much money are you going to save? How much weight are you going to lose?
  • Actionable — Your goals should be broken down into action steps. What specific actions will you take to meet each goal?
  • Realistic — Your goals must be realistic. The point is to achieve them, after all. Strike a balance between setting goals that are challenging, scary even, yet still within your reach.
  • Time-Sensitive — Your goals must have deadlines. Attach a due date on each of your goals so that you are working towards an established finish line.

Related Reading: Should You Share Your Goals Or Keep Them to Yourself?

Examples of SMART goals

Using these five characteristics, let’s see how we can turn general New Year’s Resolutions into SMART goals.

Resolving to lose weight becomes:
I will lose 10 lbs by March 31, by going to the gym three times a week and limiting my caloric intake to 1500 calories per day.

Resolving to save more money becomes:
I will save $200 every month by spending $25 less a week on groceries and by downgrading or negotiating lower payments on my bills.

Resolving to be a better parent becomes:
I will spend at least one hour of distraction-free time with my children daily.

Make goals for each area of your life

There are several different aspects of our lives, so it is necessary to set and achieve goals in each of them. Doing this ensures a balance in your life. If you’re focused on improving your health but you’re neglecting your relationships, then that is not much of a balance. Using Zig Ziglar’s Wheel of Life, the seven areas in which to make goals are:

  • Financial
  • Career
  • Family
  • Health/Physical
  • Social
  • Spiritual
  • Personal Growth

Making at least one goal in each of these areas addresses your life in its entirety, as opposed to just one aspect of it.

Be careful of the total number of goals you make

Now I just said to make at least one goal in the seven areas of your life. Yes, we should do that. But at the same time, we need to be careful about making too many goals. If we have 37 goals we want to achieve in the next year, well we are pretty much guaranteeing we won’t meet them, if any at all.

When making your goals, be realistic about how many you can set and what you can accomplish. Do not make so many that you feel completely overwhelmed and end up not working on any of them. Review all your goals as a whole to make sure you can realistically work on and achieve all of them. Aim high, but be realistic!

Don’t focus on all your goals at once

I’ve heard the suggestion that we should choose two or three goals per quarter to concentrate on. I think that’s an excellent approach because it focuses our efforts.

Depending on your goals, there may be some that you need to work on throughout the year, for example, if you’re deciding to spend more time with your kids. You’re not just going to do that April to June (or at least I hope not). For those types of goals, maybe prioritize working on them at the beginning of the year, so they can become an established habit, and then you move on to working on your other goals.

Keep your goals in sight

Once you’ve made your goals, keep them within sight — literally. Putting them up on a bulletin board, your mirror, or in some other visible space keeps them front and center — both physically and mentally.

Check in on your goals

Commit to revisiting your goals so you can measure your progress. Decide that weekly, every two weeks, or monthly you’ll have a “check-in” with yourself to see how you’re doing. That will give you an opportunity to see if you need to tweak or change any of your goals.

Last year, my husband and I decided to check in on our goals at the same time we did our monthly budget. So on the calendar, we had a monthly Budget + Goal Meeting date. We weren’t perfect with reviewing our goals every month but when we did, we were able to identify the specific steps we needed to take in the upcoming month to hit our goals.

Establish Your Goals Today

The perfect time to set your goals is today. If you’re reading this before the new year has begun, excellent! That is the most opportune time to establish your goals. But if the year has already started or even if it’s half-way over, you can (and should) still set your goals. It’s never too late to devise a plan!

Download your Goal Worksheet, and set some goals today!

Are you planning to make goals this year?

Are you tired of not keeping your New Year's Resolutions? You'll love these tips to help you make goals instead of resolutions that you'll be more likely to keep. 

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