It’s that time of year again when millions of people start setting New Year’s goals. Sadly, however, just a month or two later, most of these New Year’s goals, resolutions, and habits will have been forgotten about or given-up on. But not with you. Why? Because you’re about to discover some of the most common mistakes people make when setting New Year’s goals—and how to avoid them. Let’s dive right in. Start reading or listening below.
1. You’re setting too many new year’s goals.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the New Year and to start setting goal after goal (after goal).
But don’t make this mistake.
Setting too many goals will divide your attention.
- Set between 7-12 goals. Remember to spread them out into each of the major areas of your life: physical, financial, personal, professional, social/relational, spiritual, etc.
- ROLES → GOALS. List your roles and connect them to your goals. A great approach is to start by listing out all of the major roles you hold in life (some examples: 1) Family Man; 2) Podcast Host; 3) Writer; 4) Speaker; 5) CEO, FlashBooks) – and to then connect goals to each of those roles.
2. You’re aiming too high, or too low.
One of the major reasons people fail to achieve their New Year’s goals is because they aim too low—setting goals that don’t push the limits of their comfort zone. In other words: the goals are too boring. They lack the excitement factor you need to push yourself to achieve your highest potential. In order to set new year’s goals you’ll actually achieve, you need a little fear and a little friction.
Another reason people fail to achieve their New Year’s goals: they aim too high, entering the dimension of delusion.
Both of the above can cause a severe lack of motivation.
- The sweet spot for yearly goals is to avoid aiming too high or too low, and instead finding a middle-ground somewhere in between. You’re looking for desirable difficulty: not too hard, not too easy, but right in the middle.
- Side note: please don’t misunderstand me when I advise against aiming too high—I’m a huge proponent of thinking big and aiming for the moon. Develop a big vision, but start small. When in doubt, challenge yourself to lean in the direction of aiming higher, rather than lower.)
3. You’re not setting deadlines for your new year’s goals.
A goal without a deadline is a dream.
That might be a worn-out statement, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
If you created a list of New Year’s goals last year, pull it out and take a look at it… Do each of your goals have a deadline/timeline for their achievement?
Most people create an inspiring list of yearly goals, only to realize 11 months later, that they’ve barely scratched the surface of making them a reality, and one reason is that they fail to attach a timeline for the accomplishment of each goal on their list.
If that’s you, try this…
- Every goal you set needs a timeline and a deadline.
- If it’s a big goal, set a deadline for when you plan to accomplish it. Next, break that big goal down into smaller sub-goals/projects/sub-tasks—many of which should also have deadlines, also known as “milestones.”
4. You’re not keeping your goals visible.
Out of sight, out of mind. Don’t fall into the trap of writing out a bunch of inspiring goals, only to tuck them away in a folder until the same time next year.
Whether you realize it or not, your mind is constantly picking up cues and signals from your environment. That’s why it’s so powerful to surround yourself with visual representations of the goals you seek to achieve.
- Review your goals at least once a day.
- Physically write your goals down, and place them somewhere that you know you’ll see on a daily basis.
- Have fun and get creative—use vision boards or frame up your goals and put them on your wall.
5. You’re setting resolutions (rather than goals or habits).
Resolutions are vague intentions: “I’ll get in better shape.”
Well-set goals are specific and paired with a plan: “I’ll lose 25 pounds of fat within the next 12 months. In order to do so, I’ll begin preparing my own meals and exercising 5 days per week….”
- Forget about resolutions, start setting outcome-based goals and/or habit goals instead.
- To set your goals, begin by writing down your desired outcome.
- Next, pair that goal with a plan of action by breaking it down into smaller monthly, weekly, and daily sub-goals—all of which connect you towards the eventual accomplishment of your goal.
6. You’re not creating contingency plans.
Imagine you’ve set a habit-goal of working out five days per week, every week this year, no matter what.
Imagine you’re halfway through the year, and you haven’t missed a single day. Woop, woop! You’re on fire!
And then, one day, you have an emergency that requires you to travel out of state for a few days… What will you do?
This is where contingency plans come in.
Rather than letting your powerful work-out streak fall by the wayside, you thought about potential what-if scenarios ahead of time and prepared yourself accordingly.
So, as you begin packing your bags for your last-minute trip, you grab your resistance bands so that you can get your exercise in no matter where you are.
Having a contingency plan in place for your goals means you think of all the what-if scenarios that could potentially prevent you from taking action (what if you have to travel, what if you’re sick, what if it snows).
Setbacks are inevitable, contingency plans are like insurance plans for goals.
- Create a list of what-if scenarios for each of your goals so that you can stay on track no matter what happens.
Quick recap: 6 tips for setting new year’s goals
- Set between 7-12 new year’s goals.
- Set goals that are just outside your comfort zone (but not too far out.)
- Set a deadline for each new year’s goal.
- Keep your yearly goals visible; review them daily.
- Let go of resolutions—set goals and habits instead.
- Use contingency plans to stay on track with your goals when you get hit with the unexpected.