It’s a new year. And with this fresh new beginning comes the possibility of so much change. Of finally doing the things we’ve been meaning to do but haven’t quite done yet.
And so we make New Year’s Resolutions lists.
With things like:
- Stop smoking
- Eat more healthy
- Lose 10 kilos
- Exercise more
And while they might feel good in the moment, these kind of goals are pretty useless. They just set us up for failure.
But it isn’t because we suck and have no willpower. It’s because we never really learn how to set goals effectively.
My training in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, the approach I use, has completely changed how I set and accomplish goals. This is not a magic formula of simply visualizing something and expecting it to manifest – it is a scientifically-based approach to values-driven goal-setting.
I like to think of it as also being a more compassionate approach to goal-setting because it actually sets us up for success.
To help you set kick-ass goals for this brand new year, I am sharing a downloadable PDF that you can get here.
And until the end of January, I am offering to read your filled out worksheets and provide feedback.
Here are some ways to make your 2017 goals more kick-ass:
1. Make sure your goal is part of something bigger that really matters to you
These are your values, your WHY for wanting to achieve a goal. For example, with a goal like ‘eat healthier’, the WHY behind it might be self-care.
If you find yourself choosing out of FOG (Fear, obligation or guilt) and not because this is something that you want to move towards, you are not giving yourself the chance to succeed. You will simply end up sabotaging yourself because you are not following your heart. Guaranteed.
2. Avoid dead man’s goals
These are goals a dead person would do better than you (like stop smoking, cut out sugar) and focus on what you want to do more of instead (breathe pure air, eat more healthy fats and protein).
3. Know that any change brings up discomfort – and be willing to make room for it
This is because our old-school, conservative mind will always resist any kind of newness – even something we rationally know is good for us.
Research shows that identifying the uncomfortable emotions, thoughts and sensations that show up when you try to implement a change and knowing that this is normal and part of the whole experience of making change can help us better deal with it.
Once you’ve identified these, you need to be really honest with yourself: How willing are you to face the discomfort that will inevitably show up when making this change?
If you are not willing to, if the discomfort is greater than how important this goal is for you, that’s OK. But it does mean that it would be better to pick a different goal because discomfort is part of the whole experience, and cannot be avoided – even if we can learn to better handle the discomfort. If the discomfort is too great, then you will end up fighting an uphill battle with yourself, so make sure you have a goal that brings with it discomfort you can realistically deal with.
4. Break down the goal into the smallest, most tangible step possible.
A step that feels almost too easy is much more likely to lead to the next small step and to encourage us to keep moving towards what matters to us.
This seems counter-intuitive because we tend to be overly optimistic about how much willpower and motivation our Future Selves have! So really try to be realistic – how likely are you to take action towards this goal on a scale of 1-10? If less than 6, break it down even further.
A really tiny step for eating more healthy can look like: Add more vegetables to at least one meal per day. That’s it. It isn’t about overhauling your eating entirely straight away. Once this is mastered, you can then move on to the next tiny step and so on.
For exercising more, it might simply look like attending a zumba class once a week. That’s it. Just start really, really small.
5. To help you during difficult moments, think in advance about how you can cheer yourself on.
Why does it matters to you to do this, what it is in the service of? You can also write this down on a post-it somewhere you can see it or have it on your phone.
For example, with the eating more healthy example:
You deserve to feel your best in your body, to really take care of yourself.
Make sure you get the FREE worksheet here and try as much as possible to view this as an experiment. If a goal doesn’t work out, that OK. The WHY is probably still true for you, so simply experiment with another goal that can help you move towards this.