5 Tips for Making Goals

Start the new Year right by making goals you can keep! Photo/Ysabel Berger

As January starts us off into a new year and a new decade, it can be a great time to set new goals. Last December, I fulfilled my year-long 2020 resolution of only using reusable bags for my purchases instead of using plastic bags. With this experience in mind, here are five tips you can use for making goals for 2021.

1.  Reflect back on past resolutions. What prevented them from becoming a reality?
Having this insight can help goal makers understand what has and hasn’t worked for them in the past. Looking back I discovered that I either made too many goals or made goals that were unrealistic. Knowing this, I decided to set one, simple goal that I could stick to throughout the year, and that was the goal of only using reusable bags when I went to the store.

2. Use the S.M.A.R.T system to set goals. S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based) is an acronym and a guideline for creating achievable goals. In my experience, I decided to make a goal-specific by choosing to only use reusable bags in 2020, and I measured this by not acquiring any more plastic bags at stores. It was attainable since I was living on my own, owned several reusable bags beforehand, and relevant because I wanted to be less wasteful and more earth-conscious. Lastly, I made the goal time-based by dedicating myself to the goal for the whole year.

Try S.M.A.R.T. goals today by following this graphic!
S.M.A.R.T. Graphic Courtesy of lifehack.org

3. Make the goals memorable. A goal that isn’t memorable is a goal that won’t be achieved. Having one goal may be more memorable and easy to keep track of than having five goals. Other ways to remember goals include keeping the goal simple, making the goal visual by creating a vision board or sticky note reminder, or writing it down.

4. Prepare for your goals. What are the resources you need in order to make your goals happen? In 2020, I knew that in order to fulfill my goal I needed to prepare to make my goals happen by having reusable bags with me whenever I went shopping, so I purchased several bags and put them in my backpack or my pocket before I went to the store.

But what happens if you forget to prepare for your goal? Take time to also come up with a back-up plan or how you may react if your goal does not go according to plan. There were several times in 2020 where I made it to the register and I realized that I didn’t bring my reusable bag to the store. I fell on the backup plan of fitting what I could in my pockets and carrying the rest. It proved difficult, uncomfortable, and sometimes embarrassing, but in those moments I stayed motivated by remembering why I made that goal in the first place and reminded myself of the value and personal importance of keeping to my goal.

5. Tell at least one other person about your goal. Telling others about the goals you are making might give you the support system and social pressure you need in order to remain accountable with your goal. Having even a select few people to talk about your goals may help you recognize and celebrate your progress in your goal. I told all of my roommates about my goal to only use reusable bags in 2020, and in return, my roommates would sometimes ask or remind me to grab my reusable bags before we went out shopping together.

Being able to set a goal and accomplish it throughout the year gave me focus, confidence, and satisfaction. Share a goal you’ve set for this year below in the comments!

Additional Resources:
Read up more on Smart Goals: https://www.lifehack.org/759949/how-to-use-smart-goal
Why writing down information makes it more memorable: https://www.lifehack.org/articles/featured/writing-and-remembering-why-we-remember-what-we-write.html

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