3 Ways to Set Better Goals for the New Year

With the turning over of the calendar, there’s bound to be lots of talk about New Year’s Resolutions. Do you love then, do you hate them, do they work, should you even bother?

The new year is a wonderful time to do some reflection, whether or not you set resolutions. Look back on your year, what does it look like? It might have been a hard year, but you got through it, and that’s always something to celebrate. Maybe you had some big personal or professional achievements. Maybe there were mistakes you made that you can learn from and try not to repeat. Whether you took strides forward or felt like you just got through it, taking time to reflect can help you focus your intentions and your growth for the coming year.

The pitfalls of New Year’s Resolutions often come from setting goals we either have no true motivation to achieve or ones that don’t consider our actual day to day flexibility.

Here are three key ways you can set better goals for the new year:

1). Choose Goals that Excite You
When you are looking forward to achieving a goal (and are actually excited by the process of achieving it) you are much more likely to put effort into achieving it. And while there (of course) might be days when you can’t keep the habit up, you’ll feel excited to jump back into it when your life allows.

For example: maybe you want to be more active this year. That’s a great resolution! But what does joyful, intentional activity look like to you?

For a lot of people, when we set resolutions, we just rattle off the first, simplest way we think there is to achieve something. For this goal, that might be going to the gym more often. But do you actually like going to the gym? If running on a treadmill is a chore to you, then you aren’t going to have great motivation to actually follow up on this goal.

Instead, look at what you like to do. Think even to how you daydream about spending your time. Do you wish you knew your neighborhood or city better? Combine the two goals. Take some time out of your weekly schedule and commit to walking around, exploring where you live. If you work your goal into an activity you’re actively looking forward to, achieving it won’t feel like a chore, but a treat!

2). Be Kind to Yourself
Take a look at the way you’re phrasing your goals. Are your resolutions crowded with negative words? Do they look more like ways to punish yourself for shortcomings? Or are they ways to celebrate and expand on your journey of self-growth?

When we set goals that are more like punishments, we set ourselves up for feeling worse instead of better. Goals should help you on your journey of self-love, self-improvement, or whatever your priority is, but they should be kind to you too.

Look back at the past year. What achievements are you proud of? What lessons have you learned? How can you apply those lessons or expand on those achievements positively? When we take time to reflect on things we’ve learned and things we’re proud of, we help to illuminate our own values. Make a list of those values once you’ve figured out what they are! And then when you have that list, use it to direct your goal setting. What kinds of goals will add more of those values to your life? How can you honor them in your goal setting?

3). Honor Your Time
It’s great to set lots of new goals, but don’t set too many at once. And, when you’re setting them, remember what the composition of your days is actually like.

It’s still important to keep time to rest and relax in your schedule. And if that means you have to set one less goal, that’s okay. If you’re too burned out to commit your energy to your resolutions, you won’t achieve them anyway.

Maybe you want to read more. Great! But if part of the reason you weren’t able to read as much as you’d have liked to in the last year is because you have a consistently busy schedule, remember that as you set the goal. Instead of saying “I’m going to read 50 books this year” start with “I want to read one book a month.” That way you can prioritize this new habit you want to form, without overloading yourself and leaving you tired and overwhelmed.