The start of a new year symbolises a fresh start, with many people taking time to set intentions and goals for the year to come.
A common approach is to adopt a ‘new year, new me’ mentality that leads to setting goals that are vague, unrealistic, or overly reliant on willpower.
Motivation is usually high early in the year but is rarely reliable or sustainable enough to accomplish ambitious wellbeing, personal or professional goals.
This could explain why as many as 80 per cent of people’s new years’ resolutions fail within the first few months, especially some of the most common ones including losing weight, saving money, and exercising more.
Whether you want to make strides in your career or improve upon your wellbeing and personal habits, here are some tips to help you reset your goals for the new year in a way that is empowering and achievable.
Tune into your ‘why’
Success starts with knowing what you truly want, so dedicating time to understand your own personal values is a helpful first step.
We are often influenced by the opinions of others or distracted by external factors, so tuning into what matters most to you will help keep you on the path towards success, happiness, and fulfilment.
If you value freedom and independence, perhaps you want to step away from your day job and explore a solo venture, while those who value security and reliability may prefer the peace of mind of a regular paycheck.
Goals are as individual as we are, so embracing your own unique values system can offer an internal compass against which you can track your progress and ensure you are making decisions that are authentic to you.
Look back to move forward
Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, and while dwelling on past failures isn’t always helpful, if you find yourself setting the same goals each year and not achieving them, chances are there’s good reason.
If each year you set out to exercise more without success, reflect on why that is, noting any environmental barriers that kept you from doing so.
If a busy and unpredictable work schedule keeps thwarting your attempts to attend evening gym sessions, perhaps working out first thing in the morning before distractions can arise is a more realistic approach for your personal circumstances.
Setting goals that fit into your lifestyle will help prevent frustration and burnout, while past mistakes or challenges provide valuable insights into patterns that may derail your efforts and changes that can be made to overcome these barriers.
It’s about the journey, not the destination
People often create goals with a specific result in mind, be that increased physical fitness, less debt, or a pay rise at work. These are examples of ‘outcome goals’, and are great places to start, however timelines for achieving them are often lengthy and reliant on factors outside your control.
If you remain solely focused on the end goal, over time you may feel disempowered and like your efforts are having little impact.
This is where ‘process goals’ come into play, which involve committing to regular behaviours that increase your likelihood of reaching the end goal.
Shifting your focus from the finish line, such as a promotion or fitness milestone, to mastering better habits like coming prepared to meetings or walking during your lunch break five times a week, creates a continual sense of achievement, sustaining motivation and making you more likely to stick with positive habits in the long run.
Budget your ‘energy dollars’
Effective goal setting must be realistic in the context of your available resources, including finances, time, and energy.
Most people would love to be able to add extra hours into the day, however the reality is setting out to accomplish something new which likely requires sacrifices elsewhere to carve out room in your schedule.
If you want to learn a new skill, be honest about any time and energy-sucking habits that you could cut back on to make space to do so, such as mindlessly scrolling through social media or watching television.
Setting goals inherently makes one think about things they are yet to achieve, which can lead to fixation on what we don’t have.
While it’s great to strive for bigger and better things, it’s equally important to take time out to give thanks for the good things in your life.
Gratitude also provides a wide range of health and personal benefits, and is associated with more success and happiness.
So, regardless of what you set out to achieve this new year, make sure to pause and reflect on all the things you are grateful for, and give thanks for where you are today.