Well here it is folks, 2019. When you think back on 2018, what stands out? I would challenge you to start by focusing on what you did well. Did you implement a new exercise routine that is actually working for you? Did you start ordering your groceries online and experiencing the relief of stress involved with trying to grocery shop with young kiddos in tow? Did you make a new friend? By highlighting the things we did well, it helps us to focus on the positive and can be much more encouraging than just thinking about what we want to change. If you stuck with a new goal last year, than maybe your goal for this year is simply to keep sticking with it! Focus on being the best YOU you can be this year and if you do want to establish new goals or habits, make sure you keep them realistic. And I mean even more realistic than what you think is realistic. I firmly believe that by setting realistic, attainable goals, we are much more likely to stick with them, gain momentum and actually accomplish [even more than] what we set out to achieve.
When we set out to accomplish goals that are actually practical for our lives, we end up increasing our confidence in our own capabilities. In turn, we become more motivated, and then we may even end up pushing past the initial goal little by little and getting to that lofty goal we wanted to obtain in the first place. So, how do you set goals that will actually motivate you to keep going and feeling confident and accomplished?
1. Make your goals attainable. Setting a goal that is realistic is going to be a lot more motivating to work towards than a pipe dream. Often we set such lofty goals that we don't even know how to get started in trying to accomplish them. Begin by adjusting your expectations so that your goal is something you might actually be able to accomplish (e.g. start working out twice a week for 20 minutes each time instead of aiming for 5 days a week). Think about what you could actually fit into your life right now, if you changed nothing else.
2. Make your goals measurable. It can be difficult to break our goals down into tangible steps, but establishing goals such as "getting healthier", "prioritizing family time", or "improving my career" are pretty vague. Think about what you actually want to accomplish and break it down into steps. Starting with a small step is a great way to gain momentum and figure out how you can actually meet your goal. It can be helpful to spend some time defining your goals using the SMART goal system (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely).
3. Make your goals meaningful. If you set out to "be a better employee" or "lose 30 pounds", just because you feel like you should chances are high you won't stick with it. Your investment in your goals does matter. The more enjoyment you feel about your success and accomplishments, the more likely you are to increase your own self-efficacy about meeting your goals. Design goals that are meaningful and be kind to yourself if you don't get it perfectly. If you realize you’ll only make it to the gym once this week, don’t get down on yourself about it. It’s still better to go once, than not at all! Giving up certainly won't get you the end result, but forgiving yourself and trying again just may.
When we set realistic goals and expectations for ourselves, it’s more likely that we will experience increased confidence and feelings of success. This drives our momentum to continue the goal. And chances are that momentum will keep driving you to push yourself even more on the next go-around! Here's to a fulfilling and meaningful 2019!