It turns out following through with New Year’s resolutions may be more difficult than it seems. 80% percent of New Year’s resolutions fail after only a month and a half, and those statistics are from before the COVID-19 pandemic. So, how do you set realistic goals for yourself at a time when there’s still so much uncertainty in the world?
The first thing you need to do is understand what you’re capable of changing, as well as what you’re not. By letting go of things that you can’t control in your life, you’ll be able to focus your attention on the areas that you can improve upon. Simply having goals for the New Year is a great place to start. Then take the time to really think through your goals and choose the ones that you know you’ll be able to accomplish as long as you put your mind and energy toward them.
“Despite the unknowns of 2021, setting goals still has great value,” according to Fast Company. “Having goals gives you a sense of self-determination that you have the autonomy to make choices for your life and the competence to achieve them. This is a key component of mental and emotional health.”
So, make this the year that “New Year, New You” isn’t just a mantra, but your reality with these 4 tips for setting realistic goals for 2021.
Tip #1: Make Your Goals Specific To You
While general resolutions like eating healthier or exercising more are certainly admirable, it helps to have specific goals in mind when you’re setting out to achieve them. This way you can keep track of your progress and see how you’re doing with your resolutions. It’s also important to make sure that your goal is realistic based on the amount of time and energy that you have available each day.
For example, instead of just saying that you want to exercise more, make the goal specific to you. If you know that you only have a 20-minute window a few times a week to get your exercise in, instead of stressing about the time that you don’t have, focus on the time that you do have and make the most of it. Plan your workout the night before so you don’t spend valuable minutes the day of thinking about what you should be doing.
And since your resolutions are specific to you, it’s important not to compare your progress with anyone else’s, or judge yourself too harshly. The only results you should be interested in are your own.
Tip #2: Create Goals That You Can Track
“Making goals that can be measured will solidify specificity,” according to the Houston Chronicle. “Let’s say your goal is to walk more around the neighborhood. We need to know how much more – by measuring mileage, steps, frequency, time, or some other metric.”
In this case, after you complete your exercise for the day, make a check mark or an “X” on your calendar and write down the exercise that you did, the amount of time you spent exercising, and how you felt that day so you can track your progress. You can even put a happy face or a sad face based on how the workout went.
By seeing the check marks and “X’s” or happy faces and sad faces, you’ll know that you’re achieving exactly what you set out to do and you’ll be excited to continue on with your health and fitness journey. You’ll also be reminded that while some days are more difficult than others, the most import thing is that you’re dedicated to reaching your goals and continue to show up for yourself each and every day.
Tip #3: Make Sure Your Goals Are Attainable
The best goals are often ones that are challenging, but possible to be accomplished. If you set a goal that’s too far out of reach, chances are you’ll be more likely to want to give up. However, if you’re able to track your progress and can see that you’re capable of achieving your goal as long as you continue showing up and working hard, it’ll help you stay motivated.
“Your goal should be realistic,” according to ACTIVE. “Do not plan to participate in a triathlon in a few months if you have been sitting on the couch for most of the previous year. Choose a goal that is attainable.”
This means being honest with yourself and where you’re at right now. While a grand, lofty goal may sound more impressive to friends, or seem more fun, you may want to break your big goal down into smaller, more manageable goals at first. Then after you achieve those, you’ll know that you can accomplish anything that you set your mind to.
Tip #4: Set Schedule Goals
“One type of goal that you could set for 2021 is a schedule goal,” writes Elizabeth Grace Saunders, a time management coach and author of Divine Time Management and How To Invest Your Time Like Your Money, in a Fast Company article.“One of the biggest themes that I’ve seen throughout this year is that not going into the office or having things like gyms consistently available has really caused people’s schedules to slip. Two of the biggest areas of ‘slip’ have been sleep schedules and work start times.”
Since sleep schedules and work start times are two of the biggest ‘slip’ areas, start by setting goals for when you will wake up and go to bed, as well as when you’ll begin your work day. Then do your best to wake up, go to bed, and start your day at the times you set for yourself. You can track your progress by writing your wakeup and bed times, as well as your work start times in a planner or on your calendar. By seeing the results right there in front of you, it’ll help keep you honest as you strive to hit your goals. If you know that your schedule is on track from the moment you wake up, then that means you have a good chance of completing the other tasks and goals you’ve set for yourself on your to-do list for that day, as well.