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Ditch the new year resolutions and set yourself up for success with these simple steps

Updated: Mar 3, 2022

The top three new year resolutions generally involve exercising more, losing weight and saving money. It’s unlikely 2021 will change these much, the pandemic has made people more money conscious and many of us have eaten our way through the many months spent in lockdown. I’ve enjoyed a few of the comedy new year resolutions doing the rounds on twitter, my favourite being, “Making more effort to get dressed everyday.”

PJ's aside there’s no doubt that feeling healthier and saving more would make us all feel better and boost our mental health. It’s unfortunate that statistically we’re more likely to fail than succeed. New year’s resolutions feel like set-ups to fail from the outset. The biggest reason why we don’t seem able to stick to them tends to be because they are over ambitious and vague; they just aren’t specific enough.

So, what can we do to give ourselves a better chance of nailing this stuff? The research suggests we ditch the resolutions and replace them with goals. Which makes sense when we consider for most of us goals form an important part of business and life and provide a solid sense of direction, focus and motivation. You could try applying the S.M.A.R.T framework to your goals which will give you a much greater chance of success.

As a quick reminder (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely):

SPECIFIC: a well-formed goal is specific. It identifies the who, what, when and where. It defines your vision of the future, what you wish to achieve and establishes the steps to getting there.

MEASURABLE: Set a specific criteria that measures your progress toward the accomplishment of the goal. How will you know you’ve achieved your goal?

ACHIEVABLE: Attainable, stretching yet achievable.

REALISTIC: (and relevant) They are within reach and you able to commit to them. They align with your values and bigger picture objectives. Understand what you are able commit to.

TIMELY: With a clearly defined timeline, including a start date and a target date. The purpose is to create urgency

Think about the difference in the example below:

· New Year’s Resolution: “I’m going to lose weight in the new year.”

· New Year’s Goal: “I will lose 7 pounds by Valentine’s day. I will achieve this by running three days per week while also reducing my food intake to 1,500 calories per day.”

I know it’s easy to say all this and it can sound a bit idealist. We all know that keeping on track when your motivation waivers or life gets in the way can be hard. Bringing about significant change in your life will require a lot of hard work and some self-reflection. To succeed you’ll need to understand your mindset limitations and any self-sabotaging, or self-limiting behaviours’ that may prevent change.

Here’s a few questions you can ask yourself when it gets tough which will hopefully keep you focused and motivated in achieving your goals:

- What will achieving these goals bring you?

- How will you feel when you reach them?

- What could prevent you from achieving your goals? What could you do to reduce the risk of this happening?

- Who could support you in reaching your goals?

- How will you keep yourself accountable?

- How would it change your life if you achieved your goals?

- How would it effect other people in your life if you achieved your goals?

Perhaps try writing the answers to these questions down and keep them close to hand.

Best of luck!

Jayne Reah is an executive coach and consultant working with corporate and private clients.

To get in touch email:

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