Setting Goals for the New Year

Setting Good

The New Year’s Resolution goes back more than 4000 years, when Babylonians would make promises at the start of a new year to their gods in order to earn their favor for the following year.  They often promised to get out of debt, which is a good sign that the more things change, the more they stay the same!  A study by The University of Scranton says that about 62% of Americans make resolutions, yet 8% succeed consistently.  So if you’re making a New Year’s Resolution, let’s talk about some qualities it needs.

  • Conceivable – It needs to be a goal that you can identify, not something abstract. “Being a Nicer Person” is a great idea, but not a goal that you can necessarily figure out how to do on its own.  You should know what the first step of your resolution is and how you’re going to accomplish it. An easy test of this, if you told a stranger your resolution, would they know exactly what you meant?
  • Achievable – It has to be something you can do. If you’ve decided on a goal to win the lottery, this goal isn’t achievable.  You may believe you’re going to do it, but when you get to the end of the year with nothing to show for it but a pile of scratchers, you didn’t
  • Believable – This goes hand in hand with achievable, it has to be something you believe that you can do.  If you don’t believe you can accomplish it, you will immediately become the loudest voice telling you to ignore the goal, because it isn’t going to happen anyway.  Very rarely do people put in a lot of work on self-improvement to reach a goal that isn’t possible, because it’s hard to put in work if the reward isn’t believable.
  • Measurable – This goes to goals like “be happier”, how can you quantify that? How do you know if you were happier than you were last year?  If you want to be happier next year, make your resolution to start doing things that will make you happier.  You can measure if you did those things or not.  Another thing that goes with measurable is the idea of breaking a goal up into mini-goals.  Weight loss is the biggest New Year’s Resolution each year, but a goal to lose 100 pounds with no small successes in between becomes overwhelming.  Set a goal for each month, or for hours of exercise per week, or for eating more vegetables and fewer sweets, but don’t set a goal like “lose weight” without celebrating all the little milestones on the way to your big milestone.
  • Desirable – This one is the most obvious, if you set a goal you don’t actually want, you’ll probably fail at achieving it. No one is setting goals to be more sick next year, but there are goals like “move to management” for people that have no interest in being in management, it’s just the “next thing”.

New Year’s Resolutions are mostly a fun thing that people come up with quickly to celebrate the new opportunities that comes with another year.  If you want it to be more than that though, make sure it meets these requirements.


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