The turn of the year is ripe with aspiration for most people, with 188.9 million Americans insisting they intend to set a personal goal, commit to a lifestyle change, or learn something new in 2021. Yet, research suggests 80% of resolution-setters will abandon their goals, both big and small, by the second week of February. This rejection comes not from a change of heart but too elusive of an approach, and changing the way you structure and manage your resolutions may be the deciding factor in accomplishing them. From the productivity-hacks of psychologists to the proven techniques of the highly-accomplished, here are four ways to better approach your 2021 goals and write new year’s resolutions that will stick.
CONSIDER YOUR REASONING
According to Dr. Michael Bennett, a psychiatrist and author of multiple New York Times bestselling self-help books, many resolutions fail because they are not the right resolution in the first place. He suggests that people often write resolutions based on what someone else or society is telling them to change and insists “if you do it out of the sense of self-hate or remorse or a strong passion in that moment, it doesn’t usually last long.” Writing a goal that is relevant to you and absent from external influence is critical in fulfilling the goal, as one can only change the structure of their life – someone else’s expectations for it.
MAKE IT SMART
After considering the reasoning behind your resolution, the next step is writing it in a way that brings focus and clarity to its feasibility. This can be accomplished through the SMART methodology, an organizational technique that structures goals to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. According to psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert, vague goals are harder to track and thus harder to fulfill, while detailed and specific goals are more challenging to walk away from. Writing a measurable goal will reinforce your progress towards its completion as it will allow you to track behaviors that are beneficial or detrimental, and understanding its achievability will leave you less frustrated and more motivated when hurdles arise.
As mentioned above, the goal should be relevant to your life or else its achievability might be beyond your control, and determining a realistic timeline for its completion will ensure you stay focused. SMART goals are easier to write and work towards than non-SMART goals, as their specificity and organization are designed to keep you motivated and clearly understand your purpose.
BUILD YOUR PLAN (WITH ROOM FOR PROBLEMS)
While thinking positively about your resolution can be beneficial, creating a realistic plan is crucial in accomplishing it. According to studies by Gabriele Oettingen, professor of psychology at New York University, “the more positively people fantasize and daydream about their future success, the less well they do in terms of having actual success.” These daydreamers relax when it comes to getting the job done because they already experience the success of achieving their goals in their minds. She recommends using the Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan technique for overcoming this stagnation:
- Think about what you want.
- Consider the ideal outcome and how it would affect your life.
- Imagine what will try to stop you based on what you know about yourself and what has been a hurdle for you before.
- Create a plan for getting around it.
Creating this plan is important to staying flexible and patient as you discover what works best for you. Problems are inevitable and giving yourself space in your plan to overcome them is crucial to success, as not all progress is equal.
FIND YOUR COMMUNITY
Making your commitment public will not only hold you accountable but give you a community of support when you need it. Although your resolution should be relevant to your life, sharing it with others will provide social reinforcement and allow you to set up boundaries for individuals that might be detrimental to your progress. According to Dr. Bennett, creating a script for those who push back on your goals will help you stay firm when facing temptation. With this script, you can approach temptation in an administrative fashion and without emotion, ensuring you stay clear-headed and focused in your thinking.
Compared to 2020, there are 15.17% more Americans attempting to better themselves in 2021 through New Year resolutions. If you are one of them, approaching your goals with intention, purpose, and positivity might make you part of the 8% of people that actually accomplish them.
From all of us at WaveOffice, we wish you the best in your journey and cannot wait to see your progress every step of the way!