The end of the year tends to bring up a lot of pressure to set big goals and intentions for the upcoming year. I think we have all experienced the burst of motivation that comes from making a new lofty goal and then the disappointment in ourselves a few (or 12) months later when we realize we haven’t followed through on it.
A big reason resolutions aren’t realistic for most people is because we as humans crave instant gratification. We need to be able to feel and see that our choices are pushing us toward the goals we’ve set for ourselves in order to keep the feedback loop of motivation going. With a goal that you expect to last for 12 months, it is almost impossible to see those benefits early on, we don’t get the gratification from the changes we’re making, and then we stop. So how do we break that cycle?
I recently listened to two audiobooks that had some really great information on productivity, goal setting, motivation, and habits. They are “Atomic Habits” by James Clear and “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy. Both of these books do a great job of describing the science behind what motivates us and how to get out of the cycle of setting goals you can’t/don’t follow through on.
A couple of the ideas that I’ve started to implement and found really helpful are 1) habit stacking- when trying to establish a new habit, pairing it to something you already do every day until the new habit becomes second nature 2) a new habit shouldn’t last longer than 2 minutes. You can even “trick” yourself with this one. If the bigger habit you are trying to implement is exercising for 30 minutes before or after work, the new habit that you commit to and track is putting your workout shoes on first thing in the morning or first thing when you get home from work (which takes less than 2 minutes). Both of these ideas help you see your progress earlier on and make you more likely to continue, as well as give you something specific to track.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting big goals for yourself and we encourage you to do so! Set yourself up for success by taking it a step further and breaking the big goal down into achievable chunks that you can check in with often to see progress earlier on and adjust as needed. Figuring out and writing down why you want to achieve the goals you set for yourself is another great way to maintain motivation throughout the year. Happy goal setting and reflection on 2021, let us know if we can help you reach your goals in 2022!