Ever made a New Year’s resolution and failed to follow through? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. 

Chances are, if you’ve made a New Year’s resolution in the past it’s probably been something pretty big. According to Finder, the top three New Year’s resolutions for Australians at the beginning of 2021 were to improve fitness/lose weight, to  save more money/spend less, and to eat better. 

What do these three resolutions have in common? They’re all quite vague, and a little far-fetched.  

Unfortunately, it’s fairly common to give up on a New Year’s resolution quite quickly. Some studies have shown that 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. This is because resolutions are often made with no clear plan on how to achieve them. Plus, the finality of the word brings up images of a complete change or overhaul of something in your life which is almost impossible to keep up. 

To avoid becoming a part of that statistic this year, try setting goals instead of resolutions. 

Why? While resolutions tend to be quite vague in nature and seemingly unachievable, goals, on the other hand, are specific targets with a definite and precise endpoint. They’re more actionable, which makes them much more effective. 

So, how can you make (and stick to) your New Year’s goals?  

1. Be specific when setting your goals

Instead of setting a big, ambiguous goal, choose a very specific and achievable goal. This makes it easier for you to plan exactly how you’re going to accomplish your goal over the course of the year.

For example, rather than deciding you want to lose weight, or you want to get in shape, set a clear target for what this looks like. Make it your goal to lose five kilos or sign up for a half marathon in June. Whatever your goal is, making a specific, concrete and achievable goal will set you up for success.

2. Break down your goals

It’s great to want to commit to big goals, but it makes it a lot easier if you break them down into smaller, specific goals that won’t take as long to accomplish. Depending on how big your goals are, you might need to break them down into several smaller goals in order to see them as achievable. 

For example, if you want to save $20,000, that can seem a little overwhelming and out of reach. However, if you break that down into saving $1,700 a month, or $385 a week, that seems much more doable. 

On top of this, you should also break down your goals into actionable steps. So, on top of having your savings goal of $1,700 a month, you should sit down and work out a budget for yourself. Work out how much of your money to set aside for bills, spending and saving. You might find that saving $1,700 a month isn’t realistic for you, or even that you could save more. If this is the case, adjust your goals and keep going! 

3. Set a target date

One of the main things that makes goals more successful than resolutions is that you can make them time bound. A New Year’s resolution can get lost amongst all the days in the year, but if you give your goals a target date, it gives you a deadline to focus on and something to work towards. 

When you’re working towards a deadline, there’s more of a sense of urgency which can motivate you to achieve your goals faster. Keep in mind that just as your goals should be realistic, so should your target dates. Don’t aim to run a marathon in six weeks if you’ve never run a day in your life. Instead, aim to run five kilometres in six weeks and work your way up. 

4. Celebrate small wins along the way

Celebrating your progress is not only enjoyable, but it’ll also keep you motivated. A lack of motivation usually arises when we feel like we’re too far away from our goals. While breaking the goal up into smaller goals rectifies this to an extent, it’s also important to acknowledge and celebrate your small wins along the way. 

Each time you check off a goal, celebrate in a way that you enjoy. Whether that’s simply checking off a checklist, treating yourself to a special meal, or going out with a friend. Goals are hard work, and you deserve to treat yourself as you work towards them. 

5. Remember that change is a process

The path to achieving your goals will not always be straight. Yes, these tips will help motivate you to achieve your goals, but sometimes things don’t work out the way we plan – just look at the last couple of years

If you encounter setbacks along the way, don’t view them as failure. Rather, look at them as an opportunity to learn and get back on track. Reflect on what hasn’t worked out and how you can change your approach in the future. Then, adjust your goals accordingly and keep moving forward. 

Be patient with yourself. New habits aren’t formed overnight! Working towards your goals is a process. Even if you make a misstep or two, you can pick yourself up, get back on the horse and continue your journey towards your goal. You got this!