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Setting Goals for Next Year without the New Year Guilt

“Now is the time to set your goals for next year, without the crap of New Years resolutions and forced change. Take ownership and don’t let the guilt of the festive season and the new year drive your ambitions. #goals


After posting the above on a week Saturday ago it has been on my mind about goal setting and especially with the new year coming up. However, I don’t think it should be a catalysis in willy nilly goals and targets being thrown around as soon as 1st of Jan comes around.


Having time to reflect and think about what you have achieved in the last 10-12 months is really important, however small or big. You may find yourself doing this regularly or it may not even come up in your thought process. It should be done regularly evaluating your actions and intension. It could also happen spontaneously, thinking about good times or bad times and then wondering how you managed to deal with it or achieve it. Making note of all of these helps to shape our future thoughts, intensions and goals or markers for success. Whether it be in work, quality of life or physical achievements.


So before we even know it we are subconsciously setting goals which guides your actions. Goal setting traditionally is perceived as sitting down and making a goal and sticking to it until the end product is achieved OR more often than not, scrapped and forgotten about if it isn’t achieved.


I feel a better way to set your intensions for the new year is to do it throughout the year and not to set goals but understand that they evolve, you shape them and they grow from a thought, an intension. Many say setting SMART goals is the best way but that is only half of it.


Two things I feel are neglected is the process in how a goal comes to fruition and also how it is managed and evaluated.


Using these two aspects you can make goals far more effective in your motivation and reaching your targets.


First off don’t sit down one day and go “I am going to set all my goals for next year”. Don’t do it on a whim (like new year’s resolutions). Your intensions and aims should be collected over time from those thoughts of desire, from your evaluation of what is missing from your current state of health, life, work, physical ability. Keep a note of these thoughts over time and then when you have more space and time reframe these thoughts and see if it’s the correct time to address them.


If it is then that is when you can make a goal or conscious effort to achieve the target. Traditionally you would set a SMART goal but I feel its missing aspects. There are many acronyms but the below is a tweaked/individual variation on the theme.


To set a S.M.A.R.T.E.R goal you need to reframe an idea or goal so it has structure and a process so it’s easier to achieve.

E.g. I want to run the “midlands ” 10km trail run in July 2017.


Specific – goals are precise and clear. For example, you have stated the distance and event you want to run.


Measurable – goals are quantifiable. You can attain whether the goal has been achieved. For example, if you run that race you have a clear outcome and it’s been achieved.


Attainable – Are you capable of achieving the outcome, is it within your ability. This is very subjective and so it’s good to set easier goals to start with until you know how far you can stretch and push yourself. For example, you are road running 2-3 km every so often and have 8 months until the race in July. This I attainable, there is enough time to train and no reason why you couldn’t reach that target. A trial marathon on the other hand could be more unlikely, however depends on your past experiences

Relevant – what is its importance to you and what is your motivator? Is it relevant to you or your life? For example, you are currently running atm and you have friend running the race in July. You want to run together as it will be socially good to train together and you want to improve your health as you aren’t sleeping very well and running will be a good way to destress from work.


Time bound – Setting a date and time to complete the goal so you can measure if you have achieved it. For example, there is a date the race is run and at that point you will know if you have succeeded the overall goal.


Evaluate – am I on track? How is progress going? Evaluation is key, not just at the end point of the goal, in this example in Julys run, but at every stage. People who don’t evaluate their progress end up failing or quitting goals. This leads in to the next part as if it’s not going as expected you may have to reframe your goal.


Reframe – a process of editing your goals to make them more attainable or more challenging. Or all together a different goal. For example, you may have an injury and have to pull out of the July race and then postpone for another one in October. Or if training is going really well you may add a half marathon in October and use the July race as a short-term goal leading to the bigger goal. You may find out your friend has pulled out from the race in July and that was a large motivator for you and so you are going to go cycling with them instead or play squash etc.


Equally you could be: “I am fed up of feeling so tired”. This is where you have to analyse the possible causes of this. First is sleep. Are you getting enough sleep, If not then why? Are you stressed? If so then what is causing that stress? Have you enough time to unwind? There are many SMARTER goals you could set depending on the analysis of the situation. If it was quality of sleep due to poor pillows it would be “I will go shopping for a pillow on the weekend”. Then the evaluation of this would if your sleep improves. Reframing this goal if the pillow is wrong or not helping it would be changing the pillow or if success you would address the next factor.


Hopefully you can see from this it’s a process. A mindful process.


You can only concentrate on a few things at a time successfully. Don’t try to change the world in a day. Start small, gain success and then move on. Evaluate and reframe goals so once initially set they evolve into and onto the next. It’s a constant merry-go-round of evaluation, plan, action, evaluation. You could say that this is where the short-term goals lead and evolve into the medium and hence into the long term goals.


So don’t set numerous, implosive, unplanned, ill-considered goals come the 1st of January as you are setting yourself up to fail. Take time, make it a process and take action towards small achievements.

Good luck and be mindful in the process.


#goalsetting #goals #motivation

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