The new year often brings in new hope and renewed resolve to set one’ own house in order. But the motivation is often fleeting. Mahrukh Nadeem writes how you can stay focused on your goals in 2020 and be in a better position to finally get the goals you have been failing to achieve for the past many years.

hat is your resolution for 2020? Have you set any goals for the New Year? Maybe you have skipped the thought of goal setting as you have never been able to accomplish them? We all have been into this making and breaking of New Year resolutions, haven’t we? As soon as the New Year approaches, we all look back analyzing our past year, looking at our achievements, our failures, our habits and our routines. After scrutinizing our past year thoroughly, we usually pen down, or draft mentally, the new habits we want to adopt, changes we want to instill in our lives, making note of all the resolutions we want to stick to in the upcoming year by making a new start. We all want best for ourselves, and the New Year is an opportunity to start fresh with more enthusiasm and motivation.But what really happens to all of us is that this zeal and zest fades away quite quickly and we fall out of our newly acquired habits, start neglecting our goals and are unable to keep up with our resolutions. But why is it so hard to stick to our resolutions? Why can’t we keep account of our new habits? And what are the ways that can help us in understanding our behavior towards our goals and resolutions. 

Finding Faults 

First of all, let’s find the reason behind the lack of commitment and fulfillment towards our goals, following with the tips and strategies that will help you in holding on to your resolutions and achieving your New Year’s goals. Researches have indicated that lack of self-control and low self-efficacy – according to Albert Bandura, self-efficacy is defined as ‘one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task’ – is the reason why most of us are not able to achieve our goals and fail our resolutions. 

New Year is an opportunity to start fresh with more enthusiasm and motivation. But what really happens to all of us is that this zeal and zest fades away quickly and we fall out of our newly acquired healthy habits

Setting unrealistic goals is another reason why people fail to achieve desired results. When goal setting is not done properly and goals are not defined well, we face a situation wherein we are not able to follow our goals because simply appear too out of reach. For example, a 9th grade student wants to get past his Higher Board Exams with 90 percentage, he has this goal in mind and he has made his New Year resolution of studying hard and being regular in class attendance. 

Now the problem with this student’s resolution is that he hasn’t defined it well, he has made a promise of studying hard, but the question is how? Until and unless your goal is not defined well and you don’t carefully plan the steps towards your goal, the cycle of failing your goal and not being able to stick with the resolution will keep on repeating. The correct way to work with your resolution is to define the goal and break it down into small achievable steps. 

If we take the above example, the resolution of ‘studying hard’ could be further divided into small attainable steps that will eventually be leading towards our main goal e.g. making a proper timetable and sticking to it, studying daily for 3-4 hours, figuring out which subject needs more attention and giving extra time to it, not using mobile phone or watching television during study hours, etc. This is the way you break down your goal and then try to work on smaller goals which will eventually lead you in attaining your main goal.

Resolutions are also usually centered on the lifestyle changes we want to make e.g. waking up early, eating healthy, quitting sugar or fast food, working hard, becoming regular in attending classes, completing assignments on time and so on. And because these behaviors are habitual, changing one’s lifestyle is hard. But here your self-efficacy kicks in, your ability to stick to your goals and believing that you will achieve them helps you keep going. Let’s now look at some tips to keep in mind that can help you in sticking to your goals and achieving your maximum potential in the year 2020. Let’s make this year a year of change. 

 

Write Down Your Goals 

The most important thing is to write down your resolutions, just thinking about them and listing in your mind doesn’t work. There is a lot of cognitive processing involved in writing down your goals. Studies after studies have shown that we are better able to stick to our goals if we pen them down. Writing down your resolutions gives you a clear picture of what you want to achieve, any kind of visuals or pictures of your goals may also motivate you. Because humans tend to forget easily as ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Thus it is important to write your goals down and stick them somewhere you can see them clearly. Looking daily at your goals will help you remain inspired. 

 

Be Realistic

Don’t overwhelm yourself by jotting down long list of resolutions. Starting little is the key here. Jot down realistic goals for yourself and start small e.g. you are a late riser and want to wake up early and be consistent in it. Set a realistic goal of waking up by 7 AM, rather than making it unrealistic and putting an alarm for 5 AM. You want to indulge in healthy eating habits, don’t start by quitting all unhealthy food altogether at once. Rather start swapping one unhealthy meal with a healthy option. This would be a much more realistic habit and easier to maintain. Setting realistic goals helps you in being consistent in attaining your aim. Don’t bombard yourself with plenty of resolutions. Quality matters over quantity, so make fewer resolutions which are realistic and are easy for you to attain and maintain. Setting a realistic goal also means that you should be aware of the skills required for achieving your goal. 

 

Reverse-engineering Technique 

Applying reverse engineering to your goal means that you break it down into daily goals and your daily tasks that you think will lead you towards your main goal. You focus on achieving those daily tasks and goals and eventually will keep on progressing towards your yearly goal or resolution you have set for yourself. For example, a student wants to apply for a foreign exchange program by the end of spring semester. Applying reverse engineering, he/she needs to break down the goal, deciding what needs to be done daily that will help achieve that goal, what tasks needs to be focused on daily, and what skills are required and need to be upgraded in order to get selected for the exchange program. These daily goals helps you in accomplishing your resolutions. 

 

Prioritize

Prioritize your New Year’s goals and take steps towards your resolutions one at a time. Rushing into resolutions all at once will make you tired and fall out from them easily. Thus don’t rush and take one resolution at a time. For example you want to excel in academics and also want to be good at sports in school, learn swimming and start eating healthy all at the same time. Now this is a lot to take in; you might start with much enthusiasm, but shortly you will get tired and fail. So it’s important that we break down our goals and start focusing on one thing at a time. 

 

Set SMART Goals 

You should make goals for the New Year in a SMART way, which means your goal should be: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. Let consider that you want to lose weight. Rather than making a resolution of losing 20kgs in year 2020, setting a smart goal would be writing down ‘I will lose 2kg of weight per month’, now this goal is specific, measurable, attainable with your self-control, realistic and has some sort of time control. If a student wants to get better grades, identifying and specifying the subjects in which he has poor grip would be the first step. The SMART way to put a goal would be ‘I will daily give an extra hour to biology this semester and test myself on past papers’. This way of goal-writing helps to strategize and brainstorm our plan of action.  

 

It Takes Time: Patience 

Don’t beat yourself up. Remember, unlearning old habits and adopting new ones takes, time so don’t be harsh on yourself. If at any point you see yourself falling away from your set goal or unable to stick to new habits, relax! Take some time off to help you unwind, resolve whatever is not working in your favor and then get back to the task with renewed enthusiasm. And remember to celebrate your successes. Motivation usually wears out, so do treat yourself and celebrate even the littlest of achievements.All the best to you for your New Year’s resolutions! 

Mahrukh Nadeem 

MS Clinical Psychology

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