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It’s no secret that new year resolutions can be a divisive topic. While they’re great for lots of people (kudos to you if you’re one of them), most of us find February rolls around and those resolutions are long forgotten. Instead, we’re big fans of setting goals that we can take steps to achieve.
A resolution is a decision to do or not do something, whereas a goal is something tangible that you work to achieve, usually within a set timeframe. For example, a resolution might be to read more, but a goal might be to read 12 books a year. Goals can be long-term or short-term, and you’ll often set smaller, short-term goals (like reading one book a month and reading for 15 minutes a day) to help you reach the big ones.
Work out what you value
Ask yourself these questions: What do you want your life to look like? When are you at your happiest? When are you in your ‘flow’ state where you completely lose track of time? Setting a goal that’s in line with what brings you enjoyment (but is still something to strive towards) is going to be much easier to stick at.
Tap into your ‘why’
Let’s say you’ve set yourself a goal to run a half-marathon in 2022. It’s important to work out why you want to do this. It could be that running is a way of caring for your body and mind, so you can keep that intention in mind while you train. Tapping into the purpose behind your goal gives it a deeper meaning, and makes you more likely to honour the commitment you’ve made to yourself.
Break it down
Now that you’ve chosen your goal, make a list of small steps you can take to get you there. Let’s use the half-marathon example: make a list of all the ways you can bring movement into your day-to-day life to improve your fitness, whether that’s walking to work, joining a run club, or setting smaller goals to run 5km,10km, and 15km distances.
Put pen to paper
Take the time to write your goal down and describe it in specific terms, considering what it will look and feel like when you’ve reached it and when you’d like to achieve it. Most importantly, track your progress in writing too. Whether that’s a visual checklist stuck to your fridge or weekly journal entries, regularly reviewing your goal is going to make you more likely to achieve it.
Turn actions into habits
Small actions every day turn into habits, which in turn shape your lifestyle. When it comes to creating good habits, consistency and repetition are key, especially when it comes to your time. Say you’ve set a goal to learn a new language; pick up your Duolingo app at the same time each night until it eventually becomes second nature.
Accountability is key
It’s human nature that once you tell someone your goal, whether that’s a friend, colleague or family member, it holds us accountable and makes us likelier to stick at it, so spread the word! And once you reach your goal, remember to celebrate – it’s the best part after all.