New Year, New You:  How to set goals for the new year you will actually achieve

Terry Rogers Culture, Headlines, Milford Headline Story

These tips can help you achieve your goals for the new year (Photo credit: Tim Mossholder, Unsplash)

One of the top questions asked at the end of a year is what New Year’s resolutions someone intends to set. According to statistics, however, less than eight percent of people who set them actually stick to resolutions. One suggestion to help you to achieve what you want for the upcoming year is to set them as goals rather than resolutions. The first step is to set realistic goals with specific steps to achieve each one. These are ideas for goals that are actually attainable with just a little extra effort.

The most common resolution everyone makes is to lose weight, but that is too vague for a goal. Goals should be specific with specific steps to take to make them happen. Therefore, it is better to set a goal to lose ten pounds. Start small by adjusting your diet so that you eat less and increase your exercise so that you are burning more calories than you are eating. This may simply be taking a short walk each day, even if it is just up and down our driveway initially. Try to walk just a bit more each day. Clear any unhealthy food out of your kitchen to avoid temptation. Plan a day for meal preparation to avoid those busy days where you forget to take something out and resort to carry out.

Another common resolution is to get more exercise. This may not be related to weight loss, but could be simply to live a healthier lifestyle or could even be to increase weight. The best way to achieve this goal is, again, to start small. Begin the year by saying you will exercise just ten minutes each day with a goal to increase the time you workout by five minutes each week until you are up to 30 minutes a day. In other words, start on January 1 exercising five minutes per day and do that for one week. On January 7, increase to ten minutes per day and on January 14, 15 minutes per day. Continue until you are up to 30 minutes which is the amount most doctors say is sufficient for a healthy lifestyle.

Financial goals are also very popular when a new year starts. Just saying that you want to “save more money” is too broad of a goal, however. Instead, begin tracking your income and expenses now. Determine where you can cut expenses in order to increase savings and set that as a goal. For example, if you are spending $100 each week eating lunch out at work, set a goal to only eat out twice a week and schedule the remaining $60 per week to go directly to your savings account. As you find other expenses that can be reduced, funnel what you are not spending into savings until you have reached the monthly amount that makes you feel comfortable.

This process can also be used to pay off debt. Instead of putting it all in an interest bearing account, place half in savings and use the other half to reduce the balance on your credit cards. For instance, if you were going to put $60 in savings, put $30 in that account and apply the other $30 to your highest interest rate card in addition to your regular monthly payment. When that account is paid in full, start on the next one, paying that card’s monthly payment plus what you were paying on the first card. In other words, if you were paying $30 as a regular monthly payment on the first card and $30 from cutting expenses, add $60 to the regular monthly payment on the second card to pay that card faster. Continue doing that until all debt is paid in full.

Be sure to write down your goals as well. Putting them in writing with specific steps on how to achieve them makes them real. Consider starting a journal in order to track any pitfalls that may delay achieving your goal. You can also download apps to your smartphone or computer that can help you manage your goals as well. Share your goals with friends and family. They can be an excellent support system and you may find someone who has the same goals you do. Working toward that goal together can be exciting.

It is possible to begin the new year with a new, positive attitude. By following these simple steps, you may find yourself in a much better position by the end of the new year, allowing you to create a new set of goals.

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