Goal setting and planning for the New Year is one of my favourite things.
Two years ago, I started taking my goal setting seriously. I went from choosing one or two measly new year resolutions (which, lets be real, would fall by the wayside by the end of January) to setting and achieving big goals.
Which is why I propose you skip the same-old boring resolutions, and opt for true goal setting for your New Year instead!
Why do resolutions suck?
The reason so many people don’t succeed with their new year’s resolutions is because the “all-or-nothing” nature of resolutions sets so many of us up for failure right from the get-go. For example, most people make a diet or workout plan a large part of their new year’s resolutions. We all know the drill, the first week of January everyone is getting gym memberships, starting a new fad diet and depriving themselves of everything to be “beach ready” that summer. Then three weeks later, the gym is back to being filled mostly with regulars, and we’re all snacking on chips while shopping again. And then…you label yourself a failure.
But not everyone was failing.
Two years ago I was on Instagram browsing some of my favourite health and yoga accounts. It was shortly after New Year’s, and lots of people were posting their “before” pictures. Firstly, I could not get over how brave these people were for putting themselves out there, but secondly that many of these people were on their second, third and counting “before” pictures, progressing one year to the next. So I started asking myself, were these people so different from me? Why were they succeeding? What did they all have in common?
Scrolling through countless first week of January posts of people I admired for one reason or another, I began to notice a significant lack of New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I saw a huge emphasis on concrete goal setting, planning and small steps toward self-betterment.
I wanted to be like them!
So two years ago, instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I set my first solid goals for the year with a plan on how to achieve them. And by the end of 2015, I had lost 25 lbs, was speaking a second language (albeit terribly!) and had established a home yoga practice! Say WHAT?! Not only had I accomplished the goals I had set for myself, but I had proven to myself that I could accomplish BIG goals.
So I turned my sights to 2016. Could I do it again?
I’ll be honest, 2016 was an extremely rough year for me. But because I set goals and planned for them, life didn’t stop or derail me from what I wanted to achieve for myself. So now at the end of 2016, I’m down another 25 lbs, I launched The Green Family Project, furthered my second language and started a third (Swedish and Turkish if you’re wondering). Not to shabby if I do say so myself.
A goal without a plan is just a dream.
The key to achieving any goal is planning. If you’re not actively writing out your goals and planning the steps to reach them, your odds of success are very low. This is especially true if your goal involves a major lifestyle change (like food or exercise).
So where does one start?
With a planner.
There are a million and one tools to use to plan your goals so experiment and see what works best for you. In 2015, I used a combination of my iCalendar and a fitness tracker, and for tracking my language progress I used Duolingo (which I’m still using) and a notebook. For 2016, I started off the year with a bullet journal for personal goals (this fell by the wayside by April if I’m being honest – the “bulleting” style not the goals) and notebooks for planning my business.
This year is looking to be the busiest yet (and with my biggest goals yet!) so I’m tweaking my planning style once again. This year, I have purchased a large desk calendar for blog/business planning and managing my kids preschool routine. I’m hoping it won’t be too much in one calendar but if so, I’ll simply get a second smaller calendar for preschool life. I plan on continuing to use Duolingo as my language tracker because its’s awesome. And I’m starting a new bullet journal for creative, personal development and some habit tracking.
WTF is a bullet journal you ask? Check out WTF Is A Bullet Journal And Why Should You Start One.
Breaking up goals.
Once you have settled on your means of goal planning and tracking, it’s time to break your large goals into manageable pieces.
Let’s be real. Every person starts the new year with a health related goal. I have crash dieted since I was a teenager, and have tried every diet and exercise program you can think of, and I can tell you only one thing helped me drop three dress sizes in two years and that was implementing small changes over a long period of time (update Jan 28/17: now down four dress sizes!) Think about it this way. You have 365 days next year with which to change your life, why burn yourself out in the first 60 days?
When I began my health journey in 2015 I was at my highest weight ever. I didn’t feel like I was in my own body anymore and I knew I either had to make a significant life change or dive into obesity. So I broke my overwhelming weight goal into hundreds of little pieces. I started with incredibly easy and doable goals for January to build up my confidence. This largely included tracking my water intake (my target is still 2L a day), switching to vegan dairy, and trying to break my soda pop habit with carbonated water. When I was happy with my progress in the first set of mini goals I added a few more, so by the time I was ready to take on my fitness goals in mid-March I was already feeling like a winner!
By planning and starting with slow and attainable goals, you can not only achieve your goals but smash them!
Build a support network.
No one can build a bridge by themselves but don’t go sharing your dreams with just anyone! Be careful with who you share your plans because sometimes even those with the best intentions can unintentionally tear you down. You know who I’m talking about, they’re generally very complacent or “the glass is half empty” kind of people. If you don’t have a great support network “in real life”, find your goal-oriented homies on Instagram and through niche Facebook groups. This is especially true if you have a business related goal. I can’t even begin to explain how a BossMoms FB group I’m a part of completely pushed my business to the next level in a very short period of time.
Give yourself a break.
Forget about the “win/lose” mentality of New Year’s resolutions. With goal setting, you’ve either achieved your target or you’re simply on your way, there is no losing. So what if you don’t meet 100% of your ambitions by the end of 2017, roll them into the next year and keep going. You’ll soon find that your best year ever becomes the best life ever.
What are your big goals for 2017? Have a goal setting tip or trick? Please share in the comments.
ps – I periodically post my health and fitness progress pictures on Instagram, follow The Green Family Project IG account if you’re interested! I’ll be posting my 2017 “before” pics this week 🙂