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  • Writer's pictureDena Lampert

How To Set Goals For 2022 And Achieve Them

It’s that time of year again—the time to reflect, plan and set goals for the new year. And while 2021 might have had its ups and downs, it was certainly an improvement on 2020 for most of us. The world might not yet be completely back to the way it was pre-COVID, and we still have lots of changes to adjust to, but 2021 was a year of reuniting and reconnecting. Thankfully this year most of us will be able to celebrate the new year with loved ones, which is something that felt impossible not so long ago.

Despite this, there is still a lot working against us, so how can we take this into account when planning and setting goals for the new year?

Should I set a new year's resolution?

New year's resolutions are an incredibly common part of celebrating the new year. I don’t think there’s been one year where I haven’t been asked what my new year's resolution is! And while it’s always a good idea to reflect on the year gone, setting a new year's resolution is often half-hearted and vague, and more often than not, not achieved. So what can we do?

The answer: set goals instead.

A resolution, by definition, is “a firm decision to do or not to do something.” But that’s all it is, a decision. And more often than not, this decision doesn’t come with a concrete plan attached to it. That’s where goals come in.

Goals are the next stage in the process. They are smaller, broken-down stages that, when achieved, align with your resolution. By breaking down your resolution into smaller, bite-sized goals that are actually achievable, you increase your chances of achieving your resolution significantly.

For example, if your new year’s resolution is to do more exercise, you could start by thinking of specific goals within that resolution. That might be exercising three times a week, or being able to do that hike you’ve always wanted to try. From that, you can then make a plan on how to achieve those goals.

How do I properly set goals?

Goal setting is a key component of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It’s difficult to achieve goals when they’re too big, not measurable, and unachievable, which is why in CBT we encourage people to set SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.

  • Specific: When setting goals, it’s important to be as specific as possible so it’s easy to know when you’ve achieved your goal. If your goal is too vague, like ‘exercising more’ then it’s difficult to know whether you’ve achieved it or not. But when you make your goal specific, like ‘going for a 30-minute walk, 3 times a week’ it’s much easier to know whether you have or haven’t achieved it.

  • Measurable: Making sure your goals are measurable is equally important and plays into the first stage. By adding ‘3 times a week’ to your goal, you give yourself a clear idea of what you need to do, and it makes it easier to track your progress.

  • Achievable: This step is probably the most important. If you make your goals too large and unattainable, then they will be impossible to achieve. While it’s great to be ambitious, make sure the goals you set at the beginning are realistic. You might want to go for a one-hour run every day in an ideal world, but that might not be feasible based on your time constraints, commitments, and energy levels!

  • Relevant: Making sure the goals you set are relevant to your overall goal or resolution is also important. While cutting out sugar might be a good goal, it’s not in line with your overall goal of exercising more.

  • Timely: This step is especially important during COVID times. By making your goals timely you ensure that now is a good time to be working towards this goal. For example, if your small goal is to go to the gym 3 times a week, but gyms are closed because of COVID, then that’s not a timely goal. Make sure that your goals fit with the timeline you want to achieve them in.

How do I keep myself on track?

The most important part of achieving your goals is to not give up. Just because you missed a walk this week, or you hurt yourself and you won’t be able to go for a walk at all this week, it doesn’t matter. Don’t get discouraged and just pick up where you left off. Missing a whole month doesn’t matter, as long as you start again. And remember to give yourself credit! All progress is progress, no matter how big or small.

It’s also important to reflect on your progress regularly. If you find that you haven’t achieved your goal for the past few weeks, then ask yourself why. Maybe your goal is not achievable, or it’s not timely, or it’s not specific enough. Don’t be afraid to make changes to your goals as you go! Break them down even further, make them more manageable, or change them altogether. As long as they are still in line with your overall goal or resolution then changes don’t matter. It could also be that the step was not SMART from the start. See if you can rework it into a goal that you can tackle.

And while the world is slowly returning to “normal”, there are still forces working against us, so remember to be kind to yourself. Because if there’s one most important step in creating, working towards, and achieving goals, it’s to be kind to yourself every step of the way.

Wishing you all a wonderful new year.


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