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Are New Year’s Resolutions Worth It

A friend of mine recently told me that they cannot be bothered making goals for the new year anymore because they’ve tried them that many times and they have never come to fruition.

They said that they have always felt positive about them, they’ve even written them down and shown them to others so that they feel more compelled to ‘not fail’.

However their end result is the same, either not reaching the goal or just giving up on them early in the year.

The New Beginning

Remember the last twelve months and all the things that didn’t work out the way you had hoped for? Losing that extra kilo or two, reducing your alcohol or perhaps improving your fitness a little bit?

They’re something that you’ve given up on now, let’s face it those goals were so last year, right? Better left to memory and hopefully not dwell on it too much.

There’s no point in dwelling on last year because you can’t change it, but you can work out what worked and what could be improved.

What’s ahead is based on the ‘new you’, what’s behind is the ‘old you’.

This effect, known as the Fresh Start Effect, has shown to be highly influential in feelings of motivation and optimism and is the key reason why we are all so keen to make New Year’s Resolutions even when we don’t believe they’re ultimately going to work.

The SMART Framework

Many resolutions and goals are made with more of a focus on a dream outcome with little regard to how it’s going to happen. It’s almost a form of wishing rather than goal setting.

A commonly used structure to clever goal setting is by using the SMART method. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.

Being specific is the most important out of the lot. Just saying you want to save more money is a little too vague but saying you want to save $1,000 is better.

Put in place a date that you want to achieve your goal by so that you know when you should have reached the end.

Can you actually do this? Using the $1,000 example, if you don’t have a job then maybe saving any money is not achievable or realistic.

By following the SMART goal setting method, you will know what you’re aiming for and even more importantly you will know if you’ve achieved it!

Get Started

If you’re a novice at setting goals, be vigilant for the temptation to set overly big goals as it’s very easy to be daunted by these and be frozen into a state of procrastination.

Break your goals into smaller, more realistic and achievable chunks so that you can celebrate the success of reaching some mini milestones.

When his first child was born, a cousin of mine desperately wanted to save for his children to attend a private high school. He worked out that to fund six years of private high school for three children was going to cost almost ten times his annual salary.

Rather than wallow in despair he literally started to save a small amount (he started with $5 per day) for each child and invest this to a diversified share fund. He grew the daily savings amount over time, but it never became a burden for him.

His goal was achieved for each of his children which he attributes to firstly the breaking down of the goal into smaller yet more manageable chunks and then secondly because these smaller amounts were so achievable, he never felt the need to procrastinate and was able to get started immediately.

Where is this year going to take you?

New year’s resolutions are just goal setting made at a time when collectively it seems like there’s a bright future in front of us and the mistakes of last year are not going to be repeated.

Be aware of why you’re making the goal, put a framework to the goal itself and then build out the action plan of how you’re going to do it.

The 7% who achieve their goals aren’t lucky nor are they some superhuman weirdos that behave completely different to the rest of us. They just follow a process that little by little, brings them to their goals.

What does the next 12 months bring for you?

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