Setting Smart Goals for the New Year

It’s a commonly held idea that most people make some New Year’s resolutions, but very few stick with them. How can we improve our ability to keep our commitments to ourselves?

Making a New Year’s Resolution is just a seasonal way of saying “Setting a Goal.” Setting and sticking to goals is a very important skill to learn, and there are a few principles you can follow to help them come true:

1. Write the goal down.
It doesn’t seem like much, but just the act of writing a goal down makes it 80% more likely that you will accomplish that goal. In 1979, Harvard asked its MBA class if they had set clear, written goals for their future. Only 3% of the graduates had written goals. 13% had goals they had not written down, and 84% had no goals at all. Ten years later, they interviewed the class again, the 13% who had unwritten goals were earning an average of twice as much as the 84% who didn’t. The 3% who had written goals were making an average of ten times as much money as the other 97%. It’s that important.

2. Set deadlines.
If you make a commitment to yourself, make it as specific as possible. a deadline is a great way to increase your level of commitment and the likelihood that you will accomplish your goal. Still, don’t set yourself up to fail by making an unrealistic deadline. Give yourself the time you really think you might need. Even if you miss the deadline, keep going. It may just mean that the deadline wasn’t realistic. Only you can know if you’re putting in the effort.

3. Remember that goal setting is the key to happiness.
Wait, what do you mean by that, Jeff? I once read a quote: “Happiness is the progressive realization of a worthy goal.” I realized your sense of happiness is directly related to your sense of progress, and your sense of control over your destiny. You can only have meaningful control over your destiny if you choose what your destiny will be–in other words, set goals and stick to them.

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