2020 is here! When a new year rolls around, many people are inspired to reflect on the old year and look ahead to the new one. In following tradition, some people also choose to make resolutions, or plan for specific changes they wish to make to their life in the coming year. Unfortunately, according to research conducted by Strava, the social network for athletes, most resolutions are abandoned almost immediately. Strava found that most people give up the resolutions they set as early as January 12th.
That certainly isn’t very inspiring when you are thinking about change.
Some people’s resolutions stick, but the vast majority find that the big plans they made for the next year do not actually happen in the short or even long term. According to U.S. News and World Report, the overall failure rate for New Year’s resolutions is somewhere around 80%.
You may find this to be discouraging because, well, it is. However, there is a better way to achieve the things you wish to achieve in the coming year. Instead of listing resolutions, instead set goals. These may seem like the same thing to you, but in reality, they are actually very different. Read on to learn more about goal setting, and the ways that they keep you on track far better than resolutions ever will.
Why Goal Setting Works
Before you begin to set goals for 2020, think about all you have achieved this past year and in years prior. When you made a major change in your life, how and why did you do it? If you are reading this, its likely that one of the biggest changes you ever made in your life was to stop using drugs and/or alcohol. Whether you are just a few months into your recovery or are already years or decades in, this was probably the best decision you ever made, and you surely know that by now.
The reasons you have been able to stick to your recovery are likely clear to you. First, your recovery was something that was extremely important to you, rather than just a random idea you had in passing.
Secondly, when you entered a recovery program – or if you took on recovery yourself – you broke the larger task of getting clean and sober into smaller, achievable tasks. The idea of “one day at a time” is based on this. Saying “I’m going to quit drinking or using drugs forever starting today” can be overwhelming. However, saying “I’m going to quit drinking and using drugs today” is totally do-able. You learned that you need to say that every single day, and soon, many successful days have passed.
Further, when you dove into the transformation of recovery from addiction, you probably didn’t go at it all willy-nilly – you entered into this new experience with a plan. Whether you developed the plan yourself or if you consulted with an addiction professional to create it, there were specific steps you followed to get where you are today. If you attended an inpatient rehabilitation program, a plan was made for you, and you followed it so you could stay in the program. No matter who was in charge of your plan, there was in fact a plan, and that plan likely included support groups, individual therapy, journaling, reflection, mending broken relationships, and more. If you were in a twelve-step program, the plan is the twelve steps; the twelve steps are a plan that people have been following for decades to achieve recovery success, and it has worked for many of them.
Setting achievable goals that are important to you and then working on them in small, attainable steps and following a plan will help you to be successful in reaching even the most difficult goals.
If you want to set some new and exciting goals for the new year, keep all of the above in mind. However, perhaps even though you have had success in recovery, you don’t know where to go from here.
That’s where SMART goals come in. SMART is a goal setting and achievement method that has helped many people to make the changes they desire. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific (or Significant), Measurable, Attainable, Relevant (or Rewarding) and Time-bound (or Trackable).
Following each of these steps will be a big help to you. First, you need to choose a specific or significant goal. This step is crucial. Simply saying, “I would like to get in shape in 2020” is very vague. Even “I would like to lose weight in 2020” is not clear enough. Instead, try “I would like to lose thirty pounds in 2020.” This is much more specific and if you lose thirty pounds, you will know that you achieved success.
The above also applies to the second letter of the acronym, M, for Measurable. You need your goal to be measurable to know that you have reached it. Otherwise, you will not be able to celebrate when you reach it. Recovery is measurable and many people celebrate their clean and sober anniversary every year. Setting a goal that is measurable will allow you to do the same when it is reached.
The A in SMART stands for Attainable. A well-set goal is something you can actually accomplish. Losing thirty pounds is something that most people can accomplish in a year if they set their mind to it and stick to their plan. However, “I want to become an Olympic swimmer in 2020” is not attainable for most people who are not already training as an athlete. Choose goals that you can actually achieve or else you will give up on them very quickly.
The R in SMART has two different potential definitions – relevant and rewarding. Of course, your goals need to be relevant to your life and important to you, or why bother? Don’t set goals to please someone else. No matter how much you care about that person, if you plan to reach your goals, they need to be important to you.
Your goals also need to be rewarding to make them worthwhile. If your goal is to get a high paying job this year even if you know you will hate that job, you will probably not work very hard to get it.
Finally, T is for Time-Bound or Trackable. You should set a date by which you home to reach the goals you set, so you can stay on track to make it happen by that date. And, if its something that you can track on a day-to-day basis, that can also help to encourage you to keep working at it until you get there.
Happy Goal Setting
All five of these letters will be a big help to you when setting and chasing after your goals in the coming year. Instead of setting a handful of half-hearted resolutions this year, why not set one or two very serious goals using the SMART method instead? Make a plan and keep your eye on the prize and you will be amazed at the end results. Good luck!
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