Before you start thinking about the year ahead and setting goals for 2019, it's ideal to think about what's realistic and how you're going to get there. If you want to lose 30 pounds, it won't happen overnight. You must take the right steps to get there.
Setting yourself up for success means you need to have a clear mindset on why and how. If you're serious about achieving your resolutions, give your goals time and focus on creating a solid foundation that will help you reach what you want to achieve.
No matter what your 2019 resolutions are about (fitness or not), here are four steps to setting realistic goals for the new year.
Reflect on the Year
We're often told not to dwell on the past. However, it's important to reflect on successes and shortcomings for the sake of setting realistic goals for the future. Remembering lessons learned and accomplishments big and small provides motivation and confidence for determining what you want to achieve in the coming year.
Take a few hours to sit down and think about the past 12 months. What are some things you accomplished? What are some things that didn't go the way you'd hoped? What lessons did you learn? Write down all the details. It may feel awkward if you don't already journal, but putting words on paper (or a screen if you prefer typing) helps you remember even more information. No accomplishment or failure is too small to record if it comes to mind.
After you've jotted everything down, take a break–you'll need it.
Connect Wants to Whys
Once you've cleared your head after reflecting on your year, it's time to write out future goals. Consider these three questions: Is there anything from 2018 you didn't achieve that you want to carry over to the new year? What about successful achievements that you want to maintain? And finally, did any of your accomplishments inspire new goals? When asking yourself these questions, truly think about what you really want. If you've had something hanging over your head for years that you haven't been able to change, consider whether it's something you truly want to remedy or just something you think you "should" fix.
One way to think realistically about what you want to accomplish is to list why you want to accomplish each of these things. When you articulate why the goal resonates with you or feels important, it's easier to motivate yourself to the finish line. Think about how each goal makes you feel–excited, anxious, nervous, curious? Associate positive emotions with your goals, but don't be afraid to embrace the challenges, even if they elicit a sense of "fear of the unknown."
Break It Down
Now that you have your list of goals, it's time to plan your action. This is where reality comes into play. If you want to lose weight, you should outline a strategy. Will you be embracing healthier eating habits? Adding or changing up your fitness routine? Dropping negative habits that lead to unhealthy choices? Whatever you decide, get specific with the "how" of each strategy.
If you're focused on healthier eating, figure out if that means upping your veggie intake, cutting out desserts or meal prepping once a week to eat out less. Be specific with your tactics so you can figure out how much change each involves. You'll need to be prepared for the lifestyle changes you plan to make. If you have big changes in mind, that's awesome! But you need a plan to get yourself there. Don't think you'll wake up on January 1 and magically start living your whole life differently.
Did you know most people give up on their resolutions after 21 days? They don't even make it to the second month of the year! Make sure you have the steps in place to follow through with the changes necessary to achieve your goals. Consider what worked and what didn't so you can outline tactics that are more likely to stick in the future. Make a list of resources that you can count on throughout the year. Take your planning to the next level by identifying potential threats to your resolutions–what's stopped you in the past? Have a plan for overcoming potential barriers.
Build It Out
The last step of setting realistic goals is giving yourself the tools to achieve them. Whether you work best off a handwritten calendar or prefer a more structured spreadsheet, put all the information you've generated into a format that's digestible for you. Create an individual focus for each goal with your "whys" front and center.
From there, detail your strategy and tactics so you can come back to them anytime. Include other forms of inspiration, be it quotes, photographs or anything else that helps you kick into gear. Keep your tools close by and review them often or whenever you need to get back on track.