New Year’s Resolutions – The Key To Successful Goal-Setting, by Mary Meadows

30 Dec 2020

New Year’s Resolutions (I hear a *groan*) they have a bad reputation…there is nothing more disheartening than a failed one. ‘They don’t work!’ I hear you yell…Well, this blog post will change your mind and possibly your life!

So let’s begin by considering the facts about New Years Resolutions (NYR). They are usually made based on something we have failed to do the year before (and we’ve usually failed because a) its hard work, or b) we hadn’t actually considered the work it would take, or c) its just not that important to you). When we make them it’s based on a feeling, a thought of how fabulous we will feel when we *insert your favourite NYR here* and that thought requires no action. Only 8% of people keep their NYR’s. For the other 92% they have given up usually by the 17th January…

So how do you set a NYR / goal that sticks for the whole year? How can you end the year feeling fabulous, inside and out? (basing that on the fact that over 40% of NYR’s are around health and wellbeing) Read on friend, and take notes…

1 – Consider what is important to YOU. So many of the goals I hear are not actually YOUR goals. They’re based on what society, communities, the media, your friends or families believe should be your goal and quite often not what YOU actually want or need for your life. 

2 – Decide where you would like to focus your improvements. I would encourage you to base your decisions on where you feel most inspired to focus (this is where lasting change starts) not on a temporary motivation such as weddings/holidays/Christmas. 

3 – Focus on your habits. Automatic behaviour i.e. habits, form the majority of our days, and that’s where the secret lies. When we think about goals and change we often focus on the ‘big stuff’ like moving house, losing 3 stone, changing jobs it all seems overwhelming so we procrastinate, get distracted and move on to something else. If we choose to focus on our habits, paying particular attention to positive action involved in those habits, those small, daily habits produce long term change.

4 – Focus on the positive. Often, we associate things like going for a run, making time to cook a healthy meal from scratch, or learning a new skill, with a negative thought – ‘Ugghh!’, ‘haven’t got time for that,’ etc. which makes it far less likely that you will take action. Procrastination sets in, and the downward spiral begins of negative thinking…the ‘f*ck it’ takes hold, and you are stopped in your tracks. This is where the language we use in our heads is super important, the ability to pause, notice the negative and re-frame it with a positive thought and a small action. So, a bit like this ‘it’s cold, I don’t want to go outside’ PAUSE ‘I always feel amazing after a run around the block’ *put trainers on* and before you know it you are out the door…

5 – Don’t try and ‘stop’ anything, instead focus on the ‘start’. When we try and stop anything, we just think about it more, we are drawn to it, we focus on nothing else but the lack. Instead, by focusing on starting something, and the building of habits and small steps needed, it’s focusing on the positive…get excited! 

6 – View failure as practice. For the majority of people, when we feel ‘stuck’ (and this is true for most areas of life) it is because of a fear of failing. And that FEAR can stop all action taking place. So changing your thoughts, and thinking about failing as simply ‘practicing,’ will support you in striving towards anything and everything. Everything is a practice, the benefits of practicing is that we get to try again the next minute, the next hour, the next day.

7 – Write it down! The power in writing stuff down is immense. NYR / Goals that stay in your head without consideration and planning, usually stay in your head as dreams. Think of something as simple as writing down a shopping list…your trip to the supermarket is far more successful than when that list stays in your head. Apply the same focus to your NYR / goals and you are on to a winner.

8 – Reflect and Review. Get a timeline in place, for review and reflection for your NYR / goals. This is how you move forward. Breaking goals down into short term, medium term and long term. Decide how and when you are going to reflect on your progress. Here are some great questions to help you – What went well? What not so well? What am I going to do differently tomorrow / next week / next month? There are no rights and wrongs with this. The skill of reflection and reviewing is one that will grow, once you see and experience the benefit.

9 – Celebrate EVERYTHING! Celebration in adulthood is usually reserved for birthdays, and holidays. We don’t consider in adulthood the benefits of celebrating.  As a parent, think of how you celebrate every small thing your child achieves, boosting their confidence and belief in themselves. Crazy that we don’t do enough of this as an adult. So how do you celebrate? A great question to consider. A high five? A dance around the kitchen? A hug of achievement? Doesn’t have to be a big gesture, but celebrate every small achievement to boost your sense of achievement, and your confidence in moving forward.

10 – To support your NYR / goal setting here are some great questions to get those juices flowing – 

What is your NYR / goal?

Why is it important to you?

How committed are you to making it happen? (on a scale of 1-10)

What are the benefits of achieving your NYR / goal? How would it improve your life?

What information / resources do you need to strive towards your NYR / goal?

What skills / qualities / strengths do you need?

What are the major obstacles to achieving your NYR / goal?

Who can help you?

What is the first step you need to take? When will you take it?

How would life be this time next year if you don’t work on this NYR / goal?

Having followed all the steps, answered the questions, you will have a considered, realistic and achievable New Year’s Resolution!


Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

Mary Badass Meadows


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