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How to Set the Right New Year’s Resolution

by Beth on January 2nd, 2013

Beginning a new year with new resolutions calls to mind an interesting aspect of goal setting. Many of our new year’s resolutions are about things we want to accomplish over the next year. We tend to think about these future goals differently than we do more short-term goals. When we make plans for the distant future we give more weight to what is desirable or valuable. When we set goals for the near future we put more emphasis on the feasibility of the goal. Have you ever committed to something in the future that you came to regret as the day approached?

Depending on your natural goal-setting tendency, this can be helpful or not when setting resolutions. Some of us have a tendency to set conservative goals that we feel we can realistically achieve (that would be me!), while others tend to think big and are more willing to take risks when it comes to setting goals.

Since I tend to choose less risky goals, I benefit from setting longer-term goals. When the goal is in the distant future I worry less about what it will take to achieve the goal and how practical it is. This helps me to think big and take on challenges that I wouldn’t commit to if the deadline were around the corner.

If, however, your tendency is to set big audacious goals in the first place, then you need to be careful about committing to new year’s resolutions that are too ambitious. If you over-estimate what you will realistically be able to accomplish you’ll become discouraged and will more likely give up.

In either case, the best resolutions are those where we weigh both the desirability and the feasibility of the goal. So choose an ambitious goal that you’d like to achieve over the next year and then identify smaller doable steps that you will need to take in order to achieve the goal. Setting a longer-term goal will encourage you to aim for something that will really make a difference, while considering the more immediate steps that need to be taken will help you to assure that your resolution is also realistic.

  1. Curtis Sorenson aka the slvrfx permalink

    Beth as I read through your post, I’m reminded of the positive direction, the good intentions and the high energy that would flow from the seminars and classes you conduct. That said, what is on my mind today, is just how much we (I) need colleagues, coaches and mentors to continually (for me) be reminded of the resolutions and poked and prodded to make the goals happen, short and long term. Any long distance thoughts? Chs

  2. Beth permalink

    Thanks, Curt! A good way to motivate people to continue to work toward their goals is to remind them of why they have the goal to begin with. Heidi Grant Halvorson talks a lot about the motivating effect of “why” thinking when it comes to our goals in her book “Succeed”. I highly recommend it!

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