Goal-setting is for Life, Not Just for New Year

At the beginning of every year most of us tend to think about changes that we would like to experience over the coming year.  New Year resolutions are often driven by dissatisfaction with weight, health or lifestyle so we set about making ‘deprivation’ intentions for ourselves and hope we get through it.

Resolutions without a plan are just wishes.

Goals are how wishes come true.


Step 1.  Set-up

Decide what you would like to achieve this year. This is quite different from deciding what you want to ‘give up’. It’s about an attitude of giving something to yourself, rather than taking something away.  If you end up with a whole list of things, ask yourself “which will make the greatest difference to me” and then choose one.

As much as is possible, try to make your goal something that you want to do, rather than something you should do.

Step 2. Motivation

If you don’t find a way to be really motivated, it will be harder to achieve the goal. When exploring motivation, avoid telling yourself what you don’t want and emphasise what you do want.  E.g. “I don’t want to be fat”, or “I don’t want to die young” could be more helpfully expressed by “I want to be slim” or “I want to be healthy”.

Ask yourself some useful questions…..                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Why do you want it? How will you benefit? What will be the best thing about it? Who else will benefit from you achieving it?  Who will be surprised when you achieve it?

Get a piece of paper and write a list of 10 reasons why you are really looking forward to achieving your goal.  Each reason should be written as:

I am looking forward to (goal) because……………………..  OR     I love the thought of (goal) because………………..

When you have the list, put it somewhere prominent so that you have a daily reminder of what you are looking forward to achieving.

Step 3. Plan

Once you have set your goal, think about it in more detail.  How SMART is is? (Specific – Measureable – Achieveable – Realistic – Timescale)

Make sure there is a specific and clear outcome in your mind rather than an ambiguous end result. Example: “I intend to lose 14lbs in 16 weeks” rather than “I need to lose some weight this year.”

How will you measure your progress? How will you know that you are doing well?  Whatever your goal, keep a clear thought about how you measure your success and appreciate the benefits of your efforts. Focus on what you are getting out of it rather than on what you are doing without. Keep referring back to your 10 reasons why you are doing this.

How achievable is this goal? Does it need to be broken down into manageable steps to give it a better chance?  If so, what are the steps? Example: If you intend to run a marathon, do you need to set small short-term goals as you build your stamina?

Are you realistic about your target?  Be clear in your mind about how long it will take to fully achieve your goal.  One of the most common reasons why new year resolutions fail is that the target is unrealistic and therefore too difficult to achieve, especially when the goal is about weight loss.

A very important aspect of successful goal setting is to include a timescale. Saying “I am going to quit smoking this year” is not as empowering as “On January 1st, I intend to become a non-smoker.”

Step 4.  Resources

What do you need in order to achieve your goal?

If you are going to get fit, do you need any equipment?

If you are going to lose weight, have you got an eating and exercise plan?

If you are going to get your finances under control, where will you get advice?

If you’ve decided to watch less TV, what will you be doing instead?

If you’ve always associated smoking with being able to relax, how else will you relax when you don’t smoke?

Don’t forget that other people are a wonderful resource because they can support and encourage you.  Enlist the support of helpful friends or family.

Step 5.  Obstacles

Consider the possible obstacles that may thwart success and spend some time planning how you will avoid or overcome those obstacles.

Step 6.  Flexibility

Another common reasons why people stop trying to achieve their resolutions, is that they have a day or two of failing and then figure they’ve blown it so may as well stop.  When making your plan, include a realistic flexibility that allows for the odd day when you can’t or don’t feel like it.

Step 7.  Acknowledgement

Remember to congratulate yourself for your efforts, no matter how small they may be. If things get a little difficult sometimes, focus on what you have achieved rather than what you haven’t.


It’s all about a state of mind.

If you would like some help with making changes this year, call me to discuss how Solution Focused Coaching and Hypnosis can help you. Or, you can enrol on one of my Life Coaching courses which begin 26th or 28th January.

Have a wonderful 2015.

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