New Year! Goal-Planning Dos and Don’ts

With the New Year right around the corner, many people are going to be thinking about what 2018 holds in store for them. Whether you are formally committing to a New Year’s Resolution, or informally thinking about how to better your life, these four tips will improve your chances of success:

  1. There is an old marketing axiom, “Keep it simple stupid,” that works well in this context. The easiest way to set an unrealistic goal is to make it something that is difficult to understand. Furthermore, the goal must be measurable. Saying “I’d like to eat less sugar” is better than “I’d like to eat healthier,” but worse than “I’d like to cut my daily intake of sugar by fifty percent.”
  2. Goal, not goals. Part of keeping things simple is to set ONE goal, rather than many. It is tempting to use the momentum of the season to accomplish many things, but this has some serious drawbacks. It is better to set one goal, accomplish it, and move onto the next, than feel overwhelmed on a daily basis by how much you have yet to accomplish.
  3. Share it with others. This is a tricky recommendation. On the one hand, sharing your goals with others will increase your chances of accomplishing it, because once we say we are going to do something, we often feel beholden to do it. However, if you do not achieve your goal, you may feel an additional sense of failure because others will know about it. Think carefully about whether this is a goal you want to share.
  4. Break it down. Many people will want to accomplish something impressive, especially if they are only focusing on one thing. For example, you may want to lose 50 pounds by the summer. This will be much easier to accomplish if you set check-marks along the way. Rather than aiming at losing 50 pounds, set your sights on losing 10 pounds by the end of January.

Whatever your ambitions for the new year, make sure you give yourself the best chance by following the tips above.

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