2023 has brought in a whole new set of resolutions from hundreds of millions of adults. Unfortunately, according to the Chamber of Commerce, about 80% of these New Year’s Resolutions will likely fail. This is particularly true with long-term goals or resolutions. Due to the complicated, ever-changing world we live in, staying on track with a long-term resolution can be incredibly difficult. While it can be much more difficult to really stick with long-term goals than short-term goals, setting long term goals can be immensely beneficial, if not vital, for achieving a desired future outcome. By learning how to be truly successful in setting long-term goals, one can find themselves achieving success in many different areas of their lives. By referencing advice given by those who regularly achieve their long-term goals, we can help you unlock the secrets to being able to keep and follow through with your long-term resolutions and goals.
Make your goals for the right reasons
It can be easy to feel pressure from outside sources–whether it be your family, friends, a significant other, or an authority figure in your life–to make certain goals and plan to achieve them. It can even simply be the pressure from oneself that may lead to you creating goals that you may not be passionate about or sure if that is what you want. When you make a goal or a resolution, be sure that it is not because of any expectations you or others may have for you, but rather a deep desire to improve or change something in your life. Pursue goals driven by passion, joy, and excitement rather than those driven by stress, pressure, or expectations, and you will be far more likely to follow through with them.
Break one big goal into smaller goals and milestones
Big long-term goals can be overwhelming to think about and plan for, which is why it is incredibly difficult if you set one large goal for yourself and attempt to tackle that head-on. When creating a long-term goal, it is important to outline the process that you will need to go through in order to achieve that goal. This means that each long-term goal should be made up of smaller goals or milestones that you must achieve on the path to your larger goal. In fact, these smaller goals may occasionally need to be broken up even further. However you decide to break up these goals, be sure that these micro-goals are specific and realistic so that they can easily be tracked and measured. Breaking a large, long-term goal into very specific smaller goals can make an overwhelming achievement seem suddenly very attainable.
Involve those close to you to keep you on track
Don’t underestimate the power of having someone alongside you to keep you on track with an aspiration. When making your goal, assess if someone in your life would consider a goal for themselves that could run parallel to yours. It is proven that having two people committed to the same goal will significantly improve the chance of both parties achieving that goal, as they will motivate and hold each other accountable. If you cannot find someone who is able to achieve that goal with you, ask loved ones in your life to help hold you accountable. This can be done by asking about certain milestones or achievements, checking up periodically, or holding you to specific deadlines. By having those in your life help guide you through the process, you will find a much higher chance of success than you otherwise would have.
Make time for your goals
It can be easy to let your long-term goals meld into the background while you carry-on with your everyday life. Time can get away from us so quickly and– before you know it– you’ve missed your window of opportunity. Because of this, it is very important to be sure to schedule time in your busy life to work on making progress towards your goal or the micro-goals that allow you to compartmentalize it. It is also important to set time limits on your goal as well as the goals that make it up so as to give some structure to your plan and subsequently increase the likelihood of you achieving everything in a time frame you have created for yourself.
Establish ways to measure progress and reward for milestones
Find a way that works for you to measure your progress as you complete micro-goals along the way. This means ensuring each of those micro-goals are measurable and that you know with certainty once you have successfully achieved it. Find a way to track your progress in a way that will motivate and excite you. This could be a physical chart you keep on the wall, an entry in a planner or journal, or even a jar of colored bouncy balls for each micro-goal you achieve along the way. Find a method that works for you and stick with it. You should be rewarding yourself at each achievement or milestone you reach as you follow through with your plan so that you’re creating new cues with subsequent dopamine rewards. Assigning bonuses for yourself at different milestones will motivate you to reach those milestones and give you a sense of achievement along the way, making the path to obtaining that long-term goal more enjoyable and therefore more likely to happen.
Allow room for change and flexibility
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind with long-term goals is that change is inevitable and nothing will happen exactly as you hope it will. If your long-term goal takes place over a period of 5 years, it is practically a guarantee that things will not go according to plan. Because of this, it is important to not be too attached to a very specific plan or outcome. It is important to learn how to be flexible within your goal-setting and know that things might change and that’s okay. When change happens or something unforeseen takes place, learn to adjust accordingly and ‘roll with the punches’. Your plan does not have to be set in stone. It is so important that if or when things don’t go according to plan or something changes, you do not just give up on your goal entirely. There is nothing wrong with altering a plan and seeing how a change of circumstances can work for you rather than inhibit you. Leave some aspects of your plan open and allow yourself to be flexible and patient with yourself and the inevitable uncertainties of life.
Anyone can set goals for themselves, but when it comes to sustainable long-term goals and our ability to follow through, it’s vital that we are specific and that our goals are measurable. Assessing what our current cues and responses are and replacing those cues with new responses is one of the best ways we can cultivate new, healthier habits in our lives. Strict timelines for your goals are important, but to be too stringent in our plans can be a recipe for disaster. Holding yourself accountable does not need to be synonymous with shame or guilt, as it’s rare that real growth and achievement stems from shame. Remind yourself that you have permission to be human and be flexible. Here at Jade Bloom, we hope you enjoy all of the peace, excitement, and hope that stems from goal setting that is not only grounded in reality, but also sustainable and, therefore, attainable.