New Year's resolutions are notorious for never being achieved.
We seem to make the same mistake over and over - shooting ourselves in the foot by setting near impossible goals.
We refuse to believe that we can't lose five stone in a year, even if we've lost zero stone in the last ten years. We convince ourselves that we can absolutely quit smoking entirely after being on twenty a day since the age of sixteen.
As one Quora user says "Everyone I know who goes to a gym regularly dreads January and can’t wait until the end of March…know why? Because everyone with all the good intentions to hit the gym every week start in January and fizzle out by the end of March."
Thankfully, several wise men and women on Quora have offered up some advice to help set realistic , achievable goals and - most importantly - actually achieve those goals.
“Follow the rules of SMART goals”
Specific – Specify the details of your resolution properly. Ambiguous goals are prone to loopholes which can be exploited by you in future.
Measurable – Your resolution should be measurable so that you can get a boolean answer to whether you have fulfilled it or not.
Assignable – If it is a group task, it should be assignable individually… Avoid ambiguous dependencies.
Realistic – The resolution that is unrealistic is the resolution that fails… Divide your main resolution into smaller ones that seem doable to you. Baby steps are the key.
Time-related – Specify the time limit in which you want to achieve your goal.
“If you want to be really successful with something, pick the most important thing on your list you want to do and focus on that and only that.”
Assess your achievements quarterly
“Decide now - write it on your calendar - to have quarterly “board meetings” with yourself to evaluate how well you are doing with your good intentions and your goals.
“1 April, 1 July, 1 October, and 31 December are good days to sit down and keep yourself honest.”
Make it a habit
“Most of us are creatures of habit, and tend to do things on autopilot.
“Conventional wisdom is that it takes about 21 days to make a habit. So for the first few weeks you'll have to try really hard to make your resolution work. But after that, your resolution should become habit. It will become automatic and you won't think too much about it.”
Turn your resolution into lots of tiny resolutions
“Break your resolution into small parts. And start with the smallest and easiest step. Once you start doing something, it is so much easier to keep going.”
Make doing it easier
“Whatever you resolve to do, make it easier. If you resolve to stop watching TV, hide your remote. If you resolve to stop drinking, don't meet your friends at the bar. Plan ahead. Make breaking the resolution difficult.”
[This article was originally published in 2019]