Every year, millions of people (Okay, I’m guessing here, I don’t have actual statistics) formulate New Year’s resolutions. And this can be a very positive thing. In reality, a New Year’s resolution is just a fancy, and timely, setting of a goal to improve one’s state of being.
I have my own set of goals to accomplish this year. Some are self improvement oriented, and others are career oriented, and some overlap. Although we are only a week into the new year, I have been evaluating how well I think I am doing. I have noted some times I fell short of the short-term goal (or objective, as we in the field prefer to call them). The most important thing in this however, is that I have remained mindful of my goals and have been evaluating my progress. I recently asked some group members how their progress toward their resolutions are going, and I received the reply from some that it’s only been a week. Although this is true, it is important to be mindful of your goals, especially if it has to do with behavioral change (cursing less, complimenting others more, etc.).
Often New Year’s resolutions are focused on some sort of healthy improvement, and are made with every intention completion. But there are some keys to any goal setting that can be beneficial to their accomplishment. Hopefully, this blog can be helpful in that regard.
One of the basics of goal accomplishment is to set realistic, attainable goals. These goals can be short term, which would mean the goals could be accomplished in a day to a week. Other goals are long term, and require more time to accomplish. Even these long-term goals can be broken down into smaller increments, or into steps or objectives. For example, if a long-term goal were to complete a degree program, the shorter-term goals would be to enroll and complete the classes at hand. It might be beneficial to determine if the goals, or resolutions, you set are short-term or long-term. If they are long-term goals, looking at ways to break them down might really help.
Equally important is not getting discouraged when you fall short. As I mentioned earlier, I have fallen short several times already of the ideal I set. Although this can be discouraging, changing patterns of behavior is difficult. Besides being mindful of the desired change, and setting realistic steps to attaining it, we have to be understanding toward ourselves. Falling short is not failure, it does not mean that the goal should be abandoned, or that one is incapable of change. It is important to look at how efforts can best be reapplied, or adjusted, or what changes to the goal might be required. In 12 step programs there is a saying that applies perfectly well here, “Progress not perfection.”
At times there may be some underlying psychological factor that may be in play, sabotaging your attempts at goal completion. In these cases, it may be worthwhile to contact a therapist to explore what might be hindering your progress. This, of course, would be if you were truly committed to the change.