The end of the year is a time to reflect on the past year, take stock of accomplishments and look forward to those things not accomplished. If you find yourself making the same resolutions year after year, then it may be time to try something a little different. Setting goals rather than broad resolutions can be a great way to attach action steps to some of those bigger goals.
Set Goals, Not Resolutions
So, what is the difference between a goal and a resolution? Resolutions are often too general: “I want to save money / lose weight / be a better person.” They may be great for a general redirection of current patterns, but they are difficult to attain or measure progress. Setting many small goals is a great way to work up to those bigger, over arching goals, and the best plan of attack is to create a new cycle of habits.
Let’s talk about habits.
Before you can go about changing bad habits to good, you have to understand the science behind it, and what’s going on in your brain.
The Trigger: This is a cue in your internal or external environment that triggers you to take some action.
The Action: Good or bad, this is the part of the habit loop where you actually take action on the habit you want to adopt or drop.
The Reward: This is the part where your brain receives the reward for taking the the desired action.
The habit-making part of our brain is the same part that plays a role in memories, pattern recognition, and emotions. Over time, the decision-making part of the brain (the prefrontal cortex) goes into sleep mode completely and behavior becomes automatic. In most cases this is a good thing as it allows you to do something like drive a car while also having a conversation or listening to the radio.
Creating New Habits
Now, how do you go about creating new habits? Take a look at that habit loop. If you create a habit loop and practice it with intention for one month, then there’s a good chance it’s going to stick. For example, if you want to try set up a daily habit, find a trigger that is consistent in your day and attach it to that thing.
Every habit you have, both good and bad, is the result of a series of small decisions. Big goals are great, but we can’t forget the thousands of little choices that will get us there. In a world of quick transformations and instant gratification, it’s easy to forget about the hard work that goes into anything that’s worth achieving. Consistency and discipline will win over short-lived spurts every time.
It’s human nature to crave that end result, but overnight success doesn’t last. Creating habits takes time, and discipline. It’s hard work, which is why so many resolutions go untouched year after year.
Setting Goals – and Achieving Them
What do you want from yourself this year? Make a list of things, both large and small, that you want to achieve. Then go through and get specific. If you want to ride more, great, now define what that looks like. Be realistic and honest with yourself, and only plan for what you know you can logistically fit into your life and schedule. Set those smaller goals, then create a habit cycle to achieve them. If you tackle this year with a game plan, then there really is no limit to what you can achieve!
Let us know some of your goals for this year! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.