Welcome to 2019! This is the year that you will finally pull yourself together, accomplish your dreams, and knock out your goals.
Or so you tell yourself. Obviously, this year will be different than 2018, 2017, 2016…
One of the greatest disservices to our hopes and plans is starting off a new year by acting as if our resolutions and our goals are exactly the same. For example:
“My 2019 goal is to become a better writer and
be more ambitious in submitting pieces.”
(Disclaimer: I posted a version of the above sentence as part of a Facebook status and it wasn’t until later that I smacked myself and realized that the simplified language only encouraged the very thinking that I discourage.)
If your resolution is to do a particular activity every single day, drink more water, or whatever, it is not a goal. I think this starts to make more sense when we realize that those types of resolutions are HABITS, things we would like to cultivate.
We need both well cultivated habits and achievable goals in our lives. The best foundation for each of these is an understanding of exactly what they are.
Although I think it’s overused, the acronym SMART is a good launching point for understanding what a goal is, and what it is not. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.
In order to create something that’s actually a good goal, you need to get specific – instead of work out more, it would be, “I will work out four times per week.” This makes it measurable, and depending on how many times a week you set for yourself, it meets the characteristics of attainable and realistic.
In this scenario, it would be best to set a time to reassess in order to make it time-bound. Thus, the goal would be, “I will work out four times a week for the month of January, and I will revisit this goal at the beginning of February.”
While that was a very specific example, it gets the point across. Goals can’t be vague – they need some thinking and measurement.
On the other hand, habits are things that you’d like to start and see continued in your daily or weekly life. They don’t need to be as defined as goals, but they do need some sort of measurement in the start. After all, scientists typically agree that it takes about 21 days to create a new habit.
For example, if your goal is to drink more water, you might decide to drink 100 ounces a day, and then download a water tracking app to log and see if you actually do it.
Or, if you want to read daily, create some sort of habit tracker and mark down every day you pick up a book (setting alarms for this also will help).
Habits don’t require quite as much as goals, but measuring them will make them stick and not just be a January dream.
You Need Both
Habits and goals go hand-in-hand. Good habits will help you daily become the person you want to be, while well thought out goals will drive you to achieve what you’ve always wanted to attain. Set yourself up for success in 2019, differentiate between the two, and plan well.
Here’s to your 2019 self!