3 steps to making attainable goals for the new year

I've never been one for making New Year's resolutions. Personally, I've always felt that goals and lifestyle changes can and should be made any time of the year. Waiting for a "fresh start" seems to put too much pressure on making important shifts in your life. Furthermore, a lot of times big changes like eating healthier, exercising more, or taking better care of mental well-being needs to be taken on gradually and slowly incorporated into a routine, helping develop a firm foundation for healthy habits. It's unrealistic to expect to completely change a behavior over the course of a day that will be sustained long-term. It takes dedication and motivation to work through slow progress or no progress at all at some points. However, if you do make New Year's resolutions or if want to you make a goal for yourself any time of the year, read these 3 steps that will help set you up for success!

1. Identify 1-3 overarching things you want to work towards.

Don't overwhelm yourself with an exhaustive list of all the new changes you want to making in the coming year. Kicking one bad habit or motivating yourself to start a new routine can be hard enough. To ensure that you are successful at achieving your goals, choose only the most important ones to focus on. For example, my overall goals for this new year are:

  • Participate in a triathlon
  • Continue to grow and develop my blog
  • Become more unplugged

2. Align your goals with your values.

This will give you intrinsic motivation to achieve your goals. Intrinsic motivation has been shown to be superior to extrinsic motivation. Truly ask yourself why you want to achieve this goal, if it is for external reasons such as "I want to lose weight so that I look better" it may be a lot harder than you initially realized to reach it. However, if you re-align your thinking to, "I want to lose weight because I want to feel healthy and engage in the activities I love to do as I continue to age", then you might find yourself more successful in the end. It will also become a more enriching and positive experience as you work towards your goals. Here's an example of how my goals align with my values:

  • I want to be more unplugged because I want to be present in my day-to-day routines and with the people around me. Unplugging is essential for my mental health and well-being, while also vital for being able to hear and see God in the world around me. 

3. Set specific steps in place that will help you take on your goal in practical and tangible ways.

So you have this huge goal, but you don't have a single idea of how to get there. You won't be successful unless you specify what you are actually going to do to achieve your goal. It also help to break up your goal into check-points so that you can track your progress. Be sure to reward your self along the way to help you stay motivated.

  • The steps I will take to become more unplugged are...
    • Create boundaries/parameters for screen-time (i.e. shut down all electronics at least a half an hour before bedtime, no social media until after my morning workout and meditations)
    • Always have a book to read (this will help eliminate what I call "boredom scrolling", when I have some down-time I can read instead)
    • Put my phone away while walking to class, as well before and during class (this will allow me to be present and aware of my surroundings, while also reducing the temptation to look at my phone during lectures

Finally, I encourage you to write your goals down on paper or in your journal and go through these 3 steps with each one. This will help you visualize how you will achieve your aspirations and give you concrete steps that will help get you where you want to be. Writing this down will also be a great reference to look back at throughout the year to check-in and keep yourself accountable. So with that, I wish you a very happy New Year and all the best in 2017!