I suggest saying NO to New Year’s Resolutions, but that doesn’t give a free pass to not evaluate your life and find goals to set for yourself. What do I suggest? I’ll share a bit about how to set goals in a different way.
Goal setting or changing your habits doesn’t need to be an annual event. Break it down into smaller timeframes. Quarterly, monthly, weekly…it depends on the goal you want to set or the habit you want to create.
It also depends on how many goals you have in mind. If I want to add more exercise to my life, drastically change my diet, add weekly volunteering to my schedule and learn a new hobby, it’s not likely that I will succeed if I start all of the changes on the same date. I may instead set it up like this:
- January Set up a monthly challenge to exercise 3 days per week. Research volunteer activities with the goal of starting by February. (I will expand on my Challenge Method of goal setting in a later post. It can make a huge impact!)
- February Continue to work out 3 days per week. Volunteer once per week.
- March Continue with exercise and volunteering. Add in two new healthy recipes per week and cut fast food out.
- April Continue with previous new habits (by now the exercise and volunteering may be completely engrained into your schedule!). Focus on eating 5 fruits and vegetables per day and start looking into your new hobby.
- Following Months Continue to evaluate where you are with your goals. Tweak your plan and add new challenges as you go.
I have found that a Monthly Challenge method (or various other timeframes) works well for me. There is more of a focus on Mini Habits and setting up a Challenge for yourself. They have worked for me! Challenge yourself for ONE MONTH and you may end up with a new habit.
Here are 6 guidelines in goal-setting:
Be Specific. It’s much easier to track how you are doing and if you need to reevaluate as you go if you have a specific way to measure and track your progress.
For example: Get Healthy. What does that mean?
Try this instead: In January, try two new healthy recipes per week. In February, cut out all fast food. In March, focus on having five fruits and vegetables per day.
Be Realistic. Ask yourself: Is this really attainable? It’s probably not realistic to plan on making 4-5 drastic changes as of January 1. Decide instead to spread your goals throughout the year. Don’t just think of the absolute ideal if you honestly think it’s not attainable. Sometimes you even need to set low goals. What?? Don’t completely abide by this motto, but don’t set yourself up for failure. Be honest with yourself. Be realistic. (For example: working out just twice per week for 15 minutes is way better than nothing.)
Make a Plan. It’s hard to create a new habit. Even if we are highly motivated in one area of life, we may desire to make a change in an area that we struggle with. (I FINALLY was able to create an early morning habit. What I needed was a plan!) Take the time to plan out the steps you need to take.
Related Post: My Simple Productivity Tip to Help You Stay Focused
Create a Timeline. Break down your goal into smaller pieces and attach a timeline to them. If you have broken it down in smaller increments, you will have small successes along the way. You will also be able to make changes along the way if necessary.
Make an accountability plan. You can do this one of two ways. Or both.
- Ask a friend, co-worker or your spouse if they will either join you or if they are willing to be your encourager. Maybe your spouse will be willing to take on your goal and get up early with you. Maybe your friend will be willing to text you daily to see if you are reading your devotion.
- Write it down! This has been key for me. Make up a Monthly Schedule of a Challenge you make for yourself. I recorded Bed Times and Wake Up times and this motivated me. I was happy to record an 11:00 PM bedtime, while I didn’t enjoy writing down 12:00 PM. Knowing that I had to record the time made me feel more accountable. I was amazed at how this simple task was a game changer. Tracking simple daily habits can be so helpful, read below for a few resources to help you track your habits.
Review and reassess. Ask yourself: Is this working? If it’s not, what are the roadblocks? Is your timeline off? Is your goal too broad?
Are you setting goals and challenges for your health and fitness? Use the Health and Wellness Printable Planner to help you succeed in your Health and Wellness Goals.
Because this is not an annual approach, you can be constantly tweaking and changing if needed.
There are many different ways that you can set goals. It’s important that you find a way that works for you. Step back and reevaluate what you have done in the past. Does it work? If yes, go with it. If not, try a new method.
Here is your first step: Think of your broad goals (exercise, eat healthy, volunteer) and brainstorm for the mini goals. Spread the mini goals out for the first few month (or the full year if you are in a Goal Planning Mindset!) and record on the Mini Goal Brainstorm Schedule. Updated 12/5/17: Sorry this printable is so ugly…I’ll update it someday. :)
Do you want to track your habits? See below for a few resources to help you track your habits:
Monthly Habit Tracker: This post includes a free monthly habit tracker PDF.
Bundle of 20+ Habit Tracker PDFs: Because I realize not everyone tracks their habits in the same way, I just created a Habit Tracker Printable Bundle. It contains over 20 pages so you can find the tracker that works for you. Some trackers have a weekly focus and some have a monthly focus. Some include both. There is also be a habit tracker specific for tracking sleep. Work through and try more than one printable until you find the one that works best for you. Get the NEW Habit Tracker Bundle here!
Habit Tracker Spreadsheet: I am excited to share my Habit Tracker Spreadsheet with you. One of the reasons I’m so excited about the spreadsheet is that you get to see the word “Success” pop up if you complete your habit your goal number of days.
There is a column where you write in your success criteria (because not all habits will have the goal of 7 days per week). Once you input the right number of “X”s during the week, a green “Success” will magically pop up! (OK…it’s just a little formula I wrote.)
I included directions in the spreadsheet, but I would love to know if you think something is confusing.
Annual Habit Tracker: Track your habits all year long with this free Annual Habit Tracker Printable.