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Three Steps to New Year's Goal Setting

Three Steps to New Year's Goal Setting

Heather Hudson


Why do we make New Year’s Resolutions? Human nature is to love a fresh start. A new day, a new quarter, a new year. But if you’ve experienced disappointment with making resolutions that start January 1st, (or perhaps the 2nd to allow for some celebration recovery on the 1st) then read on.

Most people make resolutions that are very stoic and lack inspiration. They focus on all the NO’s rather than what they want to create in the upcoming year.

“No cigarettes for me in 2017.” Not too exciting, is it?

Most people leave it there, and they don’t get hyper focused on the end result. The truth is, if you don’t have a compelling end result that gets you so jazzed up that you are excited to wake up the next day and attack the new goal, it most likely will not last. There’s a few ways to think of your end goal. Flat and two dimensional, or in an emotion-oriented way. The first way is a simple, “I am going to quit smoking because my doctor keep telling me to.”

The second way is, “I am going to finally quit smoking because I’m so sick of huffing and puffing after two flights of stairs, and not being able to feel good about playing with my kids. Plus, I’d love to be able to work out with my wife without wimping out after five minutes.” Imagining yourself at the point of achievement of these things will get you feeling, how? Excited, right? This is the emotional connection that we are looking for! Attaching these feelings to the thought of your goals is much more powerful than stating a goal alone.

Paired with that, you need a solid WHY. If you have a strong enough reason WHY you want this goal then, when it gets tough, you’ll keep going. If not, you’re going to quit. Be honest with yourself. Is it going to get tough? You bet it is. If you’re going to lose 40 pounds this year, then will it be tough to eat mindfully at the upcoming Super Bowl party? Yup. Will it get challenging at your sister’s wedding? Your dad’s birthday? Your anniversary? Every single weekend? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. There won’t ever be a year, month, or quarter that isn’t filled up with situations and events that try to get you off track.

How do you combat this? Send yourself to a weight loss ranch in Arizona for a year where you do not have to face real life? Sounds expensive.

The way to counteract these events from derailing you is to prepare yourself mentally with a great big huge WHY and a healthy dose of reality. If you have a compelling enough reason that this is YOUR YEAR to succeed at weight loss, then this WHY is what you’ll pull from when times get tough. Get off track a little? Get right back on because you have this big huge WHY. “I want to feel good in my skin every single day. I want to put on whatever clothes I want and know that they’ll look great because I have sculpted the body that makes me feel good in those clothes. Feeling that good in those clothes will feel better than eating these French fries will right now.”

Add to this the sobering awareness that you’ll be saying no to certain foods at gatherings and remind yourself that your goals are more important than these temporary pleasures. This takes fortitude, but this fortitude is largely drawn not from willpower, but from having that big WHY solidly planted in your mind. If you’ve been failing at goals for years it is likely due to you falsely believing that willpower will get you there and what you really needed was an emotional connection to the feeling of achieving the goal, or as we’ve been discussing; a big WHY.

These are empowering feelings and they are motivating because they fill you up with a force which immediately puts into perspective how small and silly these temptations actually are. It takes the power right out of things that usually would derail our success. Temptations can create false worlds around us that seem impossible to defeat. Remember, FEAR means False Expectations Appearing Real. A solid WHY will squash those fears and put you back in control.

The next ingredient to include in successful goal setting for the new year is frequent review of the goal. So many people write their goal and don’t think of it again for month, or months, or even the whole year. You can’t make a goal in January and then remind yourself in October, and expect success. Weekly review or even better, daily review of the goal is best. Write it in your calendar ahead each week to remind yourself. Put reminders that will pop up on your phone. Get a sticky notes app on your computer screen. Sit and think of your goals each morning. Add various ways to keep them fresh in your mind, but make sure that you are reviewing the goal with emotion. It is not going to inspire you to flatly scan the words with your eyes if you aren’t simultaneously reminding yourself why this goal is going to absolutely change your life forever.

The final thing to add to your goal session is a decision. This may sound odd, because you think that you did that in step one, however there’s more to it than that. Most of us fool ourselves into thinking we’ve made a decision when actually we’ve just signed up to TRY it until it gets too uncomfortable. Have you truly decided that THIS is it? You ARE achieving this no matter what? Or are you just trying it? Be honest and shove fear aside. Yes, it will be scary because you know you’re going out of a comfort zone to get there. If you could achieve your most important goals and stay inside your comfort zone it means the goal isn’t actually new. It’s something you’re already doing. If it’s new, it’s outside your comfort zone. Accept this and save yourself added pain. Once you do that, you can actually decide what this new year will be bringing you.

Here’s a three-step review of the success formula for goal setting:

      1. Have a compelling WHY (emotion) with a healthy dose of reality (preparation for challenges).

      2. Review the goal daily and feel the end result (think of your why every day until it becomes who you ARE).

      3. Be honest: are you doing it or just trying it? (Trying it will end as soon as it gets uncomfortable. Doing it is a decision that means if you get off track, you’re getting right back on.)

Go for it! You won’t regret it! What you will regret is looking back at all the time wasted not achieving your dreams.