The arrival of the new year tends to inspire people to want to make changes in their lives. Wanting to improve personally and professionally, they’re encouraged to analyze the past twelve months and develop ways to advance. With nothing but good intentions, you set goals with the hopes of making life more enjoyable. Yet, by the first quarter, old habits resurface, productivity stalls, and motivation dies, causing you to end up in the same position (or worse) as the prior year.
Why does this keep happening? More importantly, how do you make changes to ensure that you continue to advance in life? While there are many reasons people fall short of setting and achieving goals set for the new year, here are a few common causes and ways to prevent them going forward.
Set Realistic Goals
While the sky is the limit, setting the bar too high too soon makes it difficult to accomplish your goals. Whether you want to earn more money, reduce your debt, lose weight, or improve your diet, you must be realistic. For example, trying to make a million dollars or get rid of $100,000 worth of debt in a year when your current salary is $30,000 is farfetched. Similarly, trying to become a vegan or lose 100 pounds in two months when you’ve spent the past 20 years eating what you want is likely going to be challenging.
When goals aren’t realistic, it makes it harder to reach your marks. When you miss your mark, you become easily discouraged. Creating attainable goals will require you to break your big ideas into smaller steps. For instance, a healthy monthly weight loss goal is about 4-8 pounds. If you want to lose 30 pounds, it will take approximately 4-9 months to accomplish this goal.
Hold Yourself Accountable
You alone are responsible for the success or failure of accomplishing your goals. If you want to lose weight, start a business, or get your finances in order, but you do nothing to reach those milestones, there’s no one to blame but yourself. As holding yourself accountable when setting goals (particularly those outside your comfort zone) is challenging, you may need to take extra steps to stay on track.
Sharing your goals with someone you trust can make accountability easier. There’s something about maintaining a positive image to others that pushes you to stick to your plans. If you let your spouse know that you want to save $12,000 by the end of the year, they can check in with you every month to see what progress you’ve made. If your best friend knows about your weight loss goals, they can be the voice of reason when you get off track, procrastinate, or fall back into old habits.
Identify Weaknesses and Obstacles (And Find Solutions)
Achieving goals come with a lot of challenges. Being aware of those challenges allows you to develop a plan to overcome them as opposed to buckling under the pressure. This step will require you to analyze your weaknesses honestly and find practical solutions. Let’s say your goal was to reduce your credit card debt and improve your credit. You have several cards with high balances and interest rates that, unfortunately, you can only afford the minimum amount.
These obstacles make it all but impossible to reach your goals. However, now that you know what your issues are, you come up with a solution. You could contact credit card companies to negotiate lower interest rates, eliminate late fees and penalties, settle, or set up affordable arrangements to knock the debt out faster. There’s also the option to consolidate your credit cards into one low monthly payment with lower interest rates for easier management.
Many people start the new year off with goals in mind for a better future. While their intentions are good, the motivation to succeed often dies down in the first few months. If you’re tired of finding yourself in the same position at the end of the year, go back to the drawing board and consider the common obstacles listed above. Ensure that you’ve set realistic goals, found a way to hold yourself accountable, identified your weaknesses, and devised a plan to overcome them. These three practical solutions can be the key to helping you be all you want to be this year and beyond.