Goal Setting vs New Years Resolutions – Setting Yourself Up for Success.


While the year 2016 had its moments (the good, the bad and the ugly), it did not shape up to be the year I wanted it to be.  As I took a look back at my accomplishments, I realized not only had I not set any new years resolutions, but I did not set any goals either.  While I have a bucket list in my head, I have never written it down.  To be honest, I am not a big fan of creating new years resolutions anyway, because I can never seem to follow through with them. I know so many people who feel the same way!

Goal setting, however, can be both motivational and inspirational.  It is how you go about setting them up, that makes all the difference in whether you flip or flop!

I believe in dreaming big; setting broad dreamy goals for where you want to go or who you want to be!  That being said, it is important to establish small steps or goals which lead up to those big ideas, as well as having a realistic time frame in which to complete them in. I believe the number one reason most people fail at reaching their goals, is they bite off more than they can chew, and then become so discouraged they quit altogether.  Many become convinced they are simply not capable and/or become so depressed over the ordeal (and believe me it usually turns into an ordeal) that they walk away from the goal or dream forever.  People say things to themselves like “Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be,” “I am just not cut out for this,” or “Who am I to think it was even possible?”

So, how do you set yourself up for success?  Here is an exercise/steps I created to help you along.

  1. Write your big, dreamy goals down in a journal or notebook that inspires you.
  2. Write down your reasons for wanting to obtain them.  To include people who have inspired you and what you think will happen once you achieve them.
  3. Then break those goals down into reasonable (for you) size chunks.
  4. Arrange the goals based on the level of difficulty, starting with the easiest and working your way up.
  5. Add in detail and build in steps to work on obtaining those more reasonable sized goals.  (The more detailed the better, as you want as clear of a path to follow as possible.  Also, accomplishing small steps over time will help to build your confidence in your ability to succeed.)
  6. Provide yourself with a time frame that is achievable and realistic, but also helps to push you along.
  7. As progress is made, check off the ones you have completed and write in the date of completion.  This will help you track both your progress and the time it takes you to complete each step within the goal.
  8. If you do not achieve one of your goals or complete a step in the expected time frame, be honest, write down why and how this happened.  Then, based off of this information, set a new time frame.  (If necessary, reevaluate and change the goal.)
  9. Even when it seems hard, do not give up!  Do not give in the negative voices in your head or the negative voices coming from those around you, who may not support your efforts.
  10. Celebrate each and every successful step!  No matter how tiny the step/goal appears, it is important, so treat it as such.
  11. Have fun with it! (If you are beating yourself up or driving yourself into the ground, you are likely headed for failure.)

Keep in mind, what you tell yourself or allow others to tell you about yourself, during this time is crucial. Setting and achieving your goals and dreams is a very personal process. To be successful, you must first believe in yourself.  If you do not believe you can achieve the steps you create, you might as well not even start.  Sorry, just keeping it real!

So before you dive into this adventure check in with your self-talk.  Ask yourself tough questions about what you want and what you think you can actually achieve.  Do not be afraid to challenge yourself, but do not purposefully set yourself up for failure either.  Yes, self-sabotage is a thing.

As each goal and/or step is thoughtfully created, ask yourself what kinds of things might get in your way. Follow these thoughts up with ideas on how to go about working through these challenges. If you have already thought about, and have a plan for how to deal with these challenges when they arise, it is less likely to catch you by surprise or stop the process.

Sounds like some work right?

I would be lying if I said it was easy.   Goal setting/achieving is some tough and tricky business! It might include some or all of the following:

  • Getting sweaty
  • Getting dirty
  • Getting creative
  • Showing up – even when you do not want to or feel like it
  • Closing one door, in order to open another
  • Showing grit or courage often
  • Facing uncomfortable situations or people
  • Giving yourself pep talks
  • Putting the big kid pants one leg at a time, every single freaking day
  • Tracking progress
  • Re-arranging relationships, a job, where you live, or life in general
  • Dealing successfully with stress
  • Taking chances
  • Changing your perspective
  • Finding and expressing your truth
  • Living intentionally
  • Breaking up with thoughts, ideas, or other goals which might be holding you back
  • Working through challenges
  • Asking for help
  • Learning new skills
  • Learning to say no
  • Learning to say yes
  • Having faith – Trusting the process
  • Giving yourself a break from time to time (So you do not become burned out or too exhausted.)
  • Embracing the suck (Brene Brown quote I just love!)
  • Not giving up – even when you feel discouraged
  • Digging deep emotionally and/or physically
  • Tons of self-care

It might be helpful to use the same journal to write down and track your bucket list items. It could be useful to allow yourself to complete some of your bucket list items as a reward for achieving a goal or difficult step.  Or you might find, in working towards achieving your goal(s), you are able to check off your bucket list items in the process.  It never hurts to incorporate/combine ideas and action items whenever possible.  If you are a creative (and I believe most of us are) draw, color or paste pictures into your journal that inspire and encourage you.  If words, phrases, quotes, pictures of places, things or people inspire you or help you to stay focused, include them as they come into your awareness.

It is easy to become overwhelmed by the process!  It is also common for people to get so caught up in the daily living of life, they forget why they are even trying, or what exactly they are working towards.  Keeping a creative and collective journal can be both a fabulous reminder and a wonderful source of encouragement.  It may even turn into a source of self-care.  It all depends on how you use it and how often!

This process is a labor of love, as it should be!  This is why new years resolutions do not work.  They usually involve coming up with a big idea but are often not well planned out. If there is a plan, it is all too often thought up in too big of chunks, setting one up for failure vs success.  (Example: I am going to start eating better and going to the gym every day, because I need to loose this weight!)  Full of conviction and sometimes truth, but not well thought out.

The individual life is designed, lived and loved by each of us in our own unique way.  It can only be created and sustained by one person; that person is you.

Are you ready to start your goal setting journey?  I hope so!  I know I am.  I would love to hear some of your goal setting and journaling ideas, so please share them on my page.  I am happy to chime in with the experiences from my own personal process as well.  What has helped you be successful, what kinds of challenges have you faced, and how have you overcome them?  What is holding you back and why?  Sometimes sharing your journey, dreams and ideas with others, encourages or inspires them to work harder on their own.




About thoughtfulstroll

I am a veteran, a professional business woman and a counselor in training. Follow me on my journey to becoming a mental health professional.
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