For as long as I can remember, it has been a tradition for most people to set “resolutions” every New Year’s. It’s also a tradition for most people to break their New Year’s resolutions. Roughly 92% of people who make resolutions break them. Why does such a large majority of people break their resolutions?
Why Most People Break Their Resolutions
Most people who break their New Year’s resolutions do so because in their hearts, they don’t believe that they can accomplish their goals. These are often very simple yet beneficial goals such as losing weight, making more money, or even getting a better night’s sleep. But even resolutions that don’t seem all that big can feel unrealistic, especially if you’ve never done it before or haven’t done it in a few years.
But working to achieve your goals needn’t be such a struggle. Follow these six easy steps and those New Year’s resolutions won’t feel so impossible to achieve.
How to Make Goal Setting Easier
1.) Know Exactly What You Want
A lot of people are pretty vague about what they want to accomplish. For example, “I want to lose weight.” What does that even mean? Yeah, I want to lose weight and slim down, but exactly how much weight do I want to lose? You need to better define your goal with lots of details so you’ll know what you’re working towards.
Being definite about your goal will make it feel more realistic and measurable. Your goal won’t feel like it’s out their beyond your reach, where the pixies and unicorns roam.
Knowing your goal in detail makes it easier to maintain and build up your motivation. Building up your motivation increases your momentum, which in turn helps you achieve your goals faster.
2.) Divide & Conquer
What really makes resolutions seem difficult to achieve are when they feel too “big” or “impossible”. We may tell ourselves, “I need to be more realistic.” What we really need to tell ourselves is that we need to break down our goal into smaller, more manageable pieces.
Let’s take the example of obtaining a job as a graphic designer. Think about what it’ll take to obtain a job in the graphic design field:
- Get some training.
- Purchase all of the computer equipment and software needed for graphic design.
- Create a great portfolio.
- Find the studios within your town that are hiring.
- Fill out applications and/or send out resumes.
- Schedule interviews and do well in them.
Does all of this sound like a lot? Maybe this small todo list looks like it’ll take too long to achieve? To prevent ourselves from becoming overwhelmed, we’ll need break down each task in our todo list into smaller, more manageable tasks. Plus if these smaller goals seem like too much, we will need to break each smaller goal into even smaller, more manageable goals. Go as small as you need to in order to create goals that feel achievable.
For example, let’s go back to our todo list to obtain a job in graphic design. We’ll focus on, “Get some training.” Break this first step down into more manageable pieces:
- Research where to obtain training in graphic design.
- Learn about each training program or school and find out what you’ll learn.
- Contact people who have gone through the training or school to get their opinion of it.
- Learn how much each training program costs.
- Earn the money to pay for the training.
- Sign up for the training/classes.
- Attend the training/classes.
- Finish the program.
Seems like a lot still? Break down each task into even smaller tasks. Make it as easy on yourself as possible.
3.) Make a Plan
This kind of goes with #2. Creating a plan provides us with a logical road map for us to follow. Instead of jumping randomly from task to task or attempting to do multiple tasks at once, we can accomplish tasks one by one. A plan also provides us with a means of measuring our progress. Being able to measure our success is reassuring and increases our motivation to move forward towards our ultimate goal.
4.) Set a Deadline
Everything we want to do takes time. Realizing this, we need to set a deadline for when we’ll achieve our goals and stick to that deadline. Sounds too difficult?
Think about it like this, where you work sets all sorts of deadlines for the many tasks that need to be accomplished. You and your fellow employees or team members take these tasks seriously because there are serious consequences for not getting them done. You might get yelled at. You maybe asked to explain why you can’t accomplish your tasks in a timely manner. Or you may simply lose your job and have no income to pay your bills.
Because of these consequences, we take the tasks that our employers set very seriously, even when they seem ridiculous or impossible to achieve. We even push ourselves harder than we normally would. But we don’t magically change into a goal achieving machines when we go to work, we just make a mental shift.
You may want to start your own small business. But it’s very difficult to take such a goal seriously if you have not set a point in your life when you’ll actually obtain your first customer. Setting a deadline and sticking to it helps to force you to make that same mental shift that you make everyday at work. Deadlines also make you take your goals more seriously. A goal goes from a flight of fancy to something serious that needs to get done no matter what.
5.) Make the Time
“I don’t have the time” is the most common excuse that we make for never working on our resolutions. Yes, we have a whole string of things that need to get done everyday, and even more things that come up out of nowhere. But if you want to achieve your goals, you must make the time for them.
The easiest way to do this is by finding a specific time during your day to work on your goal. It needs to happen at the same time everyday. Give yourself however much time you need to feel like you’ve made progress. I can’t tell you how much that time that is. It could be 30 minutes or even an hour. Whatever amount of time you need, don’t ever cheat yourself out of it.
Let me give you an example. You want to learn how to trade options. You’re busy, but you find that you have some downtime during the evening. You decide that everyday at 7 PM, you take 20 minutes to study options trading. You will do this religiously until you become profitable trading options. No excuses! No distractions!
6.) Give Yourself a Treat
Self help guru Dr. Joe Vitale recommends to give yourself a reward after accomplishing your resolution. In fact, it can even be the end result. It doesn’t have to be extravagant like a trip to Hawaii. Your reward can be as simple as a new pillow for getting a month’s worth of a good night’s sleep.
Whatever reward you treat yourself will make you feel good. Feeling good mentally makes achieving the resolution feel like it was worth doing. This in turn will motivate you to achieve more goals.
The Easier the Better!
Whatever you want to do in life doesn’t have to be a struggle. Have the mindset of working smarter not harder. Be one of the 8% that can take specific goals, break them down, know when they’ll get done, make the time to get them done, and improve their lives. Don’t ever be the 92% that continues to think “what if?”