Each year, on January 1st, millions of people set goals for what they hope to achieve in the new year. However, close to 80% of New Year’s Resolutions are dropped by February (1). With the new year right around the corner, you may be thinking about what you want to achieve in 2023. Here are 5 ways that you can set goals that you can stick to in 2023!
1. Be specific
Broad goals such as “workout more” or “sleep better” are good habits to build, but without specific targets to shoot for, it’s likely that you won’t achieve what you are hoping to. Having specific, often measurable, goals can give you something that you can do routine check-ins, making it more likely that you will achieve what you set out to (2).
2. Make them hard, but not impossible
When thinking about what we want to achieve, it’s easy to select goals that are easily attainable. However, if goals are too easy, it’s likely that you will lose motivation to work towards them (2, 3). On the flip side, setting goals that are too difficult to achieve will also lead to burn-out. This is primarily because when people feel that they are not capable of achieving the goal they will abandon it to preserve their self-esteem.
Setting goals is a bit like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. You want to set a a goal that is not too easy, not too hard, but something that’s just right. For example, if you have never run, setting a goal to run for 1 minute is a little too easy, leaving you with little motivation to achieve it. On the other hand, setting a goal to run an 100-mile ultra-marathon (that can take up to 40 hours) by November is a little too hard. But, setting a goal to run a 5k (that will take less than an hour) by the end of the year can give you something to train and aim to complete, but not something that is so daunting that it will cause you to throw in the towel.
3. Set a time-frame for your goals, and check-in regularly
Setting a deadline for your goals is a way to almost force yourself to work towards achieving it. Giving yourself a timeline for you to complete your goal can allow you to schedule time dedicated to working towards it, and can allow you to develop a plan to achieve it. Setting an end-date can also allow the reality of your goal to set-in, increasing your dedication to it. Similarly, setting milestones to aim for within your bigger goal can help you stay on track with your progress! Regularly evaluating your progress can help increase feelings of self-efficacy, but realizing that you may be falling behind can also motivate you to adapt your efforts to continue to push towards achievement (3). Investing in a planner or using an online tracking tool can easily help you set deadlines for each milestone, and your overall goal!
Take training for a 5k for an example. If I am aiming to compete in a 5k in January, I need to train my body to get ready to take on the challenge. Starting today, I can use the Wild.AI running plan to train each week, getting myself a little closer to running my 5k. Also, having designated workouts that I can satisfyingly cross off after I finish them means that I am more likely to want to train each day. Come January 15th, I’m going to crush my goal of running a 5k, all because I set a deadline and checked-in with myself regularly (and of course put in the work)!
4. Think about the why
It’s easy enough to say your setting a goal because you want to, but actually thinking about who or why you are setting your goal could increase your chances of achieving it. In fact, people who are connected to their goals are up to 1.8 times more likely to achieve them (1). Additionally, dedicating yourself to a goal because someone else (i.e., partners, parents, bosses, etc.) wants you to achieve it makes it less likely that you are going to continue your dedication to it. Instead, choosing goals that YOU want to attain increases your investment in completing them! Some research even suggests that tying your goals to something that matters to you may, quite literally, suppress negative emotions associated with judgment (1).
It’s also likely that your goal may be for someone else, but in an indirect way. For example, you may want to run a 5k to improve your cardiovascular health, but also to show your young niece the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Even if you’re doing this to make your future self-proud, as long as you understand the reasoning behind your goal, and that you're not being told what to aim for, it’s more likely that you’ll stick to it!
5. Stop trying to fix yourself
Although goals are a great way to build-upon the humans we already are, when they are focused on “improving” ourselves they can be a bit toxic. In a Harvard Business Review article, Charlotte Lieberman argues that aiming to “fix” ourselves is one of the fastest ways to burn-out (4). In fact, procrastination is highly correlated with anxiety and self-judgment (4). Therefore, instead of focusing on improving yourself, focus on building on how awesome you already are.
In the same breath, try not to focus on goals that you may have failed to achieve in the past (5). You are constantly developing as a human means and that you are more capable today to achieve a goal than you were yesterday. Focusing on what you may have not achieved will only add to your self-doubt about your ability to achieve awesomeness, and will make you more likely to fail. Instead, focus on how much you have already achieved and how much more you can achieve in the future!
Whatever your goals are this season, Wild.AI can help you achieve them! From coaching plans to nutrition recommendations based on your menstrual cycle (if you have one), Wild.AI can help in your New Year’s resolution. We even have a community dedicated to supporting you in your goals! Join here today!
- Murphy, M. (n.d.). This Is The Month When New Year’s Resolutions Fail—Here’s How To Save Them. Forbes. Retrieved December 13, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/markmurphy/2020/02/11/this-is-the-month-when-new-years-resolutions-fail-heres-how-to-save-them/
- Lunenburg, F. C. (2011). Goal-Setting Theory of Motivation. International Journal of Management, Business, and Administration, 15(1), 1–6. chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5b0b8f55365f02045e1ecaa5/t/5b14d215758d46f9851858d1/1528091160453/Lunenburg%2C+Fred+C.+Goal-Setting+Theoryof+Motivation+IJMBA+V15+N1+2011.pdf
- Schunk, D. H. (2001). Self-Regulation Through Goal Setting. ERIC Digest. chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://www.counseling.org/resources/library/eric%20digests/2001-08.pdf
- Lieberman, C. (2021, January 21). Why You Should Stop Trying to Fix Yourself. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2021/01/why-you-should-stop-trying-to-fix-yourself
- Ravishankar, R. A., & Alpaio, K. (2022, August 30). 5 Ways to Set More Achievable Goals. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2022/08/5-ways-to-set-more-achievable-goals
Originally published: 19.12.2022