As we launch into another new year, about 50 percent of individuals will use this metaphorical blank slate to set new goals and resolve to achieve, accomplish, and become new and improved versions of their current selves.
Whether you’ve created your 2018 resolutions already, plan to set them in the coming weeks, or think they’re an enormous waste of time, it’s helpful to understand why some individuals are successful at achieving goals, while others simply aren’t.
When setting goals, consider the SMART acronym first used by George T. Doran in 1981. A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
This SMART acronym is a practical way to approach goal setting this New Year. There are, however, several other components to keep in mind when setting your goals 2018—and beyond. Here are a few strategies to keep in mind:
Do not set goals based on expectations—either of yourself or others. To expect means that you have a strong belief something is going to happen or something absolutely will be a certain way.
If you had the ability to predict the future and know how something would happen, chances are you wouldn’t be spending your time making goals (you’d be too busy playing with your crystal ball).
Respect your physical and mental well-being. It’s okay to set boundaries for your body, mind and spirit. If you’re only capable of running for five minutes or you recognize being around certain friends can be a trigger to your addiction, then set boundaries that allow you to run the heck out of those five minutes, or spend time with your friends in an environment where sobriety is the only option.
Having respect for your well-being means making choices that allow you to achieve your goals while maintaining boundaries, achieving your goals and sustaining your health.
Acknowledge the good. Maybe that means getting a journal, or a stack of Post-It notes, or perhaps you start using an online blog or the memo feature in your smartphone to document all the little victories. Whatever form of media you choose, acknowledge your accomplishments and recognize the good in your life.
By taking a couple minutes a day to acknowledge these tiny triumphs, you’re writing the script for your future by creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of positivity. In time, you’ll notice the shift in your attitude, and so will those around you.
Give yourself grace. Michelangelo once said, “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” Set your goals high and give yourself grace.
If you fail to hit the target a time or two, chances are you are among the more successful group who chose to set goals, rather than those who didn’t set a goal to begin with.
A 2002 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that individuals who set New Years resolutions were 46 percent more likely to achieve their goals, compared to a meager 4 percent of those who never set a goal in the first place.
The New Year offers hope and promise of new beginnings and leaps and bounds toward self-improvement. Embrace this opportunity, make a plan, and get ready to work hard towards achieving the life and self you desire.
If you, or someone you know, is in need of immediate help for a mental health or substance use issue, please contact the Colorado Crisis Services hotline at 1-844-493-8255, or text TALK to 38255 for immediate, confidential assistance. Trained professionals are available to help 24 hours per day.