It’s the 3rd week of January and most of us are balls deep into our resolutions, still on that ‘New Year, New Me’ high. Everything feels like a new beginning, a fresh start and we all just got ourselves new calendars and planners so we can see our goals laid out in front of us.
But what happens when the newness wears off and we’re somewhere in February losing steam?
Resolutions are great, don’t get me wrong. January is always an awesome time to set goals for the year ahead, but goals are easy to set, not always easy to reach and giving up on them is just as easy. Many people will fall a few times and then somewhere along the way, give up and decide to wait until the following New Year. If this happens in March that means you’re putting your goals on hold for another whole 9 months.
Not this year. Not you. You’re going to smash your damn goals this year and I’m going to tell you how.
Is it tangible and specific?
Let’s take a look at what you want to accomplish this year. In reassessing your goals the most important thing is that it’s tangible and specific. If it’s not tangible then you need to come up with some key factors that make it so. For example:
“Losing 5lbs” is tangible & specific
“Losing weight” is tangible but not very specific
“Get healthy” is neither
So let’s say you want to get healthier, then you need to decide on what exactly that means to you. Does it mean you can run an 8 minute mile? Does it mean you drink 60oz of water a day? Does it mean that only 20% of what you eat is processed? Decide on a few tangible factors that will make your goal a little more specific for you.
Is it realistic?
Now this is totally relative. This isn’t to discourage you but rather to get you to think that if you are able to at least come really, really close– then it’s a good goal. If you aren’t even going to come near it, then you may want to reconsider.
For example, “My goal is to make 10 million dollars this year.”
Realistic (or close to it): You brought in 5 million last year.
Unrealistic: You brought in zero last year.
“My goal is to lose 50 pounds.”
Realistic (or close to it): You weigh 200lbs.
Unrealistic: You weigh 150lbs.
Let’s say you bring in 9 million instead of 10, or lost 45lbs instead of 50. Did you fail? No way! Because you clearly worked hard enough to get that close, and just because it didn’t happen in the calendar year doesn’t mean it won’t happen at all. Realistic doesn’t mean easy it just mean that it’s somewhat attainable.
Create a plan
Now that you’ve honed in on your goals, it’s time to make a plan. A former Marine told me the other day that “Proper prior planning, prevents piss poor performance.” And it’s true! When you don’t have a plan, not only is it like stabbing around in the dark, but you have no idea how close or far away you are. This can easily overwhelm you and drive you to quit.
Staring at a huge goal can be daunting, but when you break it down into smaller goals not only does it make it a smoother ride, but you also have smaller things to celebrate along the way. Also, rather than dive in and go balls to the wall, incrementally add things in. If you go from never working out at all to going to the gym 6x a week you’re going to burn out fast.
For example, this year I want to add 90lbs to my squat. It seems insane to me, and I know if I can get close I’ll still be happy. My plan is to be consistent with my strength program, diet and test every 8 weeks or so. For smaller goals I might want to add 20lbs in 3 months, 45lbs in 6 months and so on.
Let’s say you want to move to a new city by the end of next year. You might start researching areas of town and rent/home prices. You might look into what jobs seem available. You might need a certain amount of money saved to move, so you set a quarterly goal, or have a set amount you set aside every paycheck. Whatever your large goal, there are always ways to break it down.
Everything big I’ve ever accomplished came with an incremental plan. Some goals took a few months, some took a year and some even took several years. I was never daunted because I always had plenty of small steps to take that I knew would eventually close the large gap.
Find what drives you
Most of us need something other than the thought of accomplishing the big goal to drive us. The smaller goals can do that somewhat, but there’s even more you can do to keep your eyes on the prize.
Dangle a carrot
If you are a rewards driven person then you take those mini goals and add a reward when you accomplish it. Whether it be a material reward (new clothes, shoes, a gift) or an experience (luxurious bath, massage, a night alone with a good book), figure out what little splurges will make you happy and add them to your plan. Every time you hit a mini milestone– reward yourself.
If you are a results driven person than rather than reward yourself (though you totally can do that also) it might help to look at the data–the results along the way. For fitness this could come in the form of weight, measurements, progress pictures, your mile time, increase in the weight you’re lifting, number of pull ups etc. If it’s a business you can look at website stats, email list increases, sales and social following. Show yourself the results, and use comparisons to show your growth.
After January fades your motivation may come and go, but if you cultivate discipline you’ll find that you don’t really need it. Build your goals into your lifestyle, and you’ll reach them in no time.