January always brings a fresh opportunity to reset our expectations, hopes, and dreams. We make plans and goals for the new year and can’t wait to embark on bringing them to fruition…and then February hits. All the steam we had seems to disintegrate and we feel disillusioned and defeated. The goals we made that seemed just within reach now seem overwhelming and impossible. So we settle into another year of mediocrity and disappointment.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. What if there were ways to set healthy goals and actually achieve them? In fact, there are many ways we can keep ourselves accountable in the new year and finally make progress on what we set out to do. Here are some of those ways:
When setting goals for yourself, think about where you see your life headed– where you want to go in the long run. Instead of trying to achieve a bunch of random, unrelated goals, try to set goals that will move you forward into the future you envision. When you have the endgame in mind– the vision of the lifestyle you ultimately want to live– you will stay much more motivated in the short term when working towards those smaller goals becomes challenging.
For example, if you would like to own your own home one day, you could set small goals around saving money now so you can afford a down payment in the future. You could set a goal of going out to eat only once per month, or periodically selling all the things you don’t use or wear anymore.
By having a clear vision of your desired future, you will be much more likely to follow through on smaller goals that work towards that future than if you aimlessly set goals with no larger goal in mind.
Make Realistic, Achievable Goals
You may have heard of the term “SMART goals” – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely goals. This is a great way to set goals and intentions for the new year, because when you set goals that do not fall into those categories, you will most likely not achieve them.
There are plenty of resources that dive more deeply into SMART goals, but the main idea is that if a goal is not realistic for you, it probably won’t happen. When setting your goals this year, make sure that they are actually possible for you to achieve instead of setting yourself up for failure by going after something you know won’t happen.
Sometimes we set goals we know we can't achieve because we are actually afraid of success––if we know we will fail, we feel safer. Thinking about change or the unknown can be like facing a big monster we believe we can't defeat, so we end up settling for what we know.
Nevertheless, if you can see change in the light of a dream or what you envision and are confident that you can reach it in the long run, you are destined to succeed. As you start working towards smaller realistic goals and begin achieving them, you will see that the hard work is worth it.
Write Your Goals Down and Track Your Progress
It may seem like it can go without saying, but if you don’t write your goals down you will either forget them or not take them seriously enough to follow through on them. The same goes for tracking your progress. Writing your goals down makes them more concrete and gives you a form of accountability. Tracking your progress on your goals can help provide motivation to keep going when you see how far you’ve come.
If you don’t write your goals down or track your progress, it can be easy to brush them off and give up. You won’t have physical evidence to show for your hard work.
In addition to keeping a written record, telling a friend or trusted loved one about your goals and asking them to help keep you accountable can also be a great motivator.
Find People that Are Pursuing the Same Goals
One of the best motivators when pursuing goals can be other people on the same track as you. For example, most people are much more likely to exercise if they have a buddy to work out with.
Whether it’s a Facebook group or a good friend that is chasing after the same thing as you, find your tribe of people that can help keep you accountable and motivated towards what you are pursuing in life.
Having other people to support you is especially critical when you feel like giving up. They can rally around you and encourage you to keep going. Being that person for others can also remind you why you are pursuing your goals. It is a win-win situation.
Endure Through the Middle
There is a thrill that comes with setting a new goal and beginning the process of completing it. Adrenaline can fuel you for a while, but then it becomes tedious or hard (or both), and you become tempted to give up. The middle is the hardest spot to be, and where most people throw in the towel.
Know that it’s going to get hard and make a plan for how you will handle it. Don’t expect the feelings of excitement or passion to always be there– they may be some of the time, but there will definitely be periods of drought or “writer’s block” where you don’t feel anything at all or perhaps even dread continuing. This is normal and doesn’t mean your goal isn’t worth pursuing anymore– it just means you have to dig in your heels and keep going despite your feelings, even if progress is slow.
The most successful people are the ones who push through even when it’s hard and they don’t feel like it anymore. They keep their end goal in mind and endure through the hardship to get what they desire.
Give Yourself Grace
Finally, one of the most important things you can do to ensure success when pursuing your goals is give yourself oodles of grace. If you are rigid or engage in black-and-white thinking, you will either push yourself to the breaking point or give up entirely.
You will have setbacks and hardships along the way to achieving your goals, and what matters is how you respond to these. Are you harsh and critical, speaking negatively to yourself? Or are you able to bounce back and try again?
If you view every setback as a failure, you will surely give up, but if you instead view setbacks as learning opportunities, you will be on your way to success. This looks like forgiving yourself when things don’t go as planned and figuring out what you can do differently next time. Setbacks are inevitable– your response is your choice.
For many women, intense emotions resulting from past traumatic experiences or generational patterns can get in their way of reaching their goals. If you find yourself struggling with mental health, it would be beneficial to speak with a professional mental health therapist who can help you process painful experiences and learn healthy skills. We encourage you to use therapy as a tool to reach your goals. We are here to help you flourish!