Instagram is afloat with vows to eat more greens, workout every day, and take up a new language because, yep, it’s the New Year, and with said new year, come reams and reams of resolutions for the next 365 days ahead.
Not a bad thing, by any means – visualising your goals and setting out aims for where you want your career and life to go can be a really productive use of time. Fun fact: resolution setting goes way way back to ancient times. “In 46BC, Emperor Julius Caesar introduced a new calendar which declared January 1st as the New Year. From that point, the Romans would make promises of good behaviour to the two-faced god, Janus, who symbolically looked back into the previous year and ahead into the new one,” explains life coach Sam Adams.
However, pen too many and, correct us if we’re wrong, but New Year’s resolutions can feel totally overwhelming.
According to doctor Becky Spelman, a psychologist at Private Therapy Clinic, New Year resolutions should be carefully considered and focus on obtaining more balance within your life. Hear, hear.
Adams agrees, adding she encourages her clients to see that every day is a non-refundable day. “This day-to-day approach is far more engaged than writing a long list at the beginning of the year and never actioning them. I’d advise briefly touching on who you want to be every day, and go from there.”
Words of wisdom. But how else can you actually action these life goals without putting too much pressure on yourself and giving them up altogether? We asked Adams for her eleven top tips. Keep reading as she explains the most effective ways to both set goals, and then reach them, too.
Hit your goals for 2021: 11 goal setting tips that actually work
Sam stresses that we’ve all had a pretty rough twelve months, so remembering to treat yourself with kindness and prioritising self-care is important. “We don’t know when this will end, and there has been a lot of stress, so it’s unwise to put too much pressure on yourself,” she shares.
1. Break the year down into smaller segments
If the whole year feels daunting, don’t sweat it. You don’t need to set resolutions for the whole year ahead.
“Maybe, for now, look ahead to the next three months. One big goal or even several can seem overwhelming, which just leads to procrastinations and even giving up,” she explains. Instead, she recommends trying to write down your goals month-by-month, or even plan for the seasons of the year, instead.
2. Find your why
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your resolutions, then it means you’ve overstretched, according to Adams. She advises taking a step back and really thinking about why you’ve set those specific resolutions. Try addressing how they will add value to you and your life.
“Ultimately, being overwhelmed leads to less quality and often quitting, so I’d consider picking your top one or two and working on those to begin with.,” Adams shares. “Keep real and, most importantly, be honest with yourself about why you’re setting them. The only person you have to answer to is yourself,” she adds.
3. Dive deep
This will take time, but is worth it in the long run. “Give your goals some real thought – it’s time to get real and honest with yourself,” Adams stresses. Scribbled a quick list? You’ll end up letting go of them as quickly as you wrote them, she shares. “If you address what would add real meaning to your life, you’re far more likely to make them happen,” she explains.
4. Trust your gut
It’s all-too-easy to follow the crowd, right? But the life coach shares that the only way you’ll improve yourself is to get real about what you personally want and need.
Still not sure what that is? Listen to your innate gut instinct. “I believe nine times out of ten our gut is right. If it doesn’t feel quite right, then it probably isn’t,” she adds.
5. Get ready to commit
Life goals take work and time – they don’t happen overnight. Not ready to commit to change right now? Again, no sweat – come back to it in a few months time, when you do. “Only choose goals you know you can fully commit to, then commit to your commitment,” shares Adams.
6. Buddy up
Struggling with motivation or just feeling like your 101 resolutions may not quite stick? Adams recommends getting an accountability buddy or someone who can help hold you to them. “It’s so much easier when you do things together,” she shares. “Hence the saying, ‘if you want to go quick, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.'”
7. Set target dates
Why? Well, by setting a target date to have achieved it by, you’ll keep your visualisation clearer in your head, according to Adams. “Plus, it’s been proven that time-specific goals have a much better chance of being achieved,” she shares. A note, though: do be realistic when you set your deadline. Change takes time.
8. Stay positive
Positivity can be the key to success and so try your best to back your goals up with positive action, Adams recommends. “You hear a lot about positivity – which is great – but it’s passive without action behind it.
Try doing one small positive thing every day that moves you towards your goal, she advises, like sending that email, positively reinforcing your decision to chase the goal so far, or having a positive conversation with someone about your achievements so far.
9. Accept your failures as lessons
Change is never smooth sailing, and accepting that is important, shares Adams. “You’re only human, after all. Things can and will go wrong,” she shares. Her top tip: instead of seeing it as a failure, look for the lesson.
10. Learn the power of reflection
It’s an important tool and one you should utilise often, Adams advises. “Reflect as you go. Reflection is so simple but hugely powerful. In order to achieve your goals, you’re going to need to reflect along the way. When you have a set back, ask yourself why and what you can learn – that way, you’ll improve as you go and likely find it easier,” she explains.
11. Don’t give up
And finally, keep persevering. Now we’re not talking about the initial, ‘is this goal really important for me?’ phase mentioned above, but rather, sticking something out if it’s a real life goal of yours.
“Quite often, resolutions don’t work out. People can fall off the bandwagon quickly, as setting them is actually the easy bit. But studies do show some interesting findings. One found that people who set goals are ten times more likely to change their lives for the better after six months than people who aspired to do better but didn’t make any.” You see what we’re getting at here, right?
Remember, you are your longest commitment and your greatest asset… Invest in you.