How To Work Out Your Goals In The New Year7 min read

How To Work Out Your Goals In The New Year

It’s less than one week into the New Year. And have I got some interesting tweets to share with you after a quick search for #resolutionfail.

“Started a diet Monday. Yesterday, my co-worker brought me a cupcake. Diet lasted 72 hours. #newrecord #resolutionfail”,

“My new year’s resolution is to spend less time on social media! ….oops. resolutionfail”

“My team’s New Year Resolution lasted all of 2 days! 😂 #resolutionfail”

“Well, I can go ahead and scratch out the resolution of not cussing in full sentences when driving. 3 red light runners, 2 wide right lane turners, 6 no blinkers lane changers, & the speed limit enforcer in left lane.  #resolutionfail”

“I was supposed to start a blog… I’m now writing trip advisor reviews 😂 #startsomewhere #cba #travel #australia #resolutionfail”

“New Year Resolution: To make it to work by 7:30am every day.  January 3rd.  Failed two days in a row.  Not starting this off the right way.  #canonlygoupfromhere #resolutionfail”

Well, studies tell us that the average person makes the same New Year’s resolution 10 separate times without success. And if you are one of those that prefer to work with goals because resolutions seem like old-school, well the jury is out and it’s not any better really.

So, what can you do to make 2018 different from all the other years you set out to run with your resolutions or goals and failed?

You Need To Drop Your Resolutions

Before we go forward, let’s deal with the elephant in the room. Honestly, I recommend you drop resolutions and my reason is simple – resolutions seem like the ending to a fairytale story where everybody just lives happily ever after without really knowing why.

Look, how can Cinderella and the Prince just live happily ever after every day afterward because they married at the end of the story? Don’t get me wrong. I, like everyone else, enjoy a happy ending without needing to bother about what makes and keeps the story happy afterward. It’s simpler to imagine that scenario.

And that is what we do with resolutions. We imagine how our story will be and just put a postage stamp with a resolution to get us there.

Resolutions like “I want to be a better person”, “I want to lose weight” or “I want a better job” sound very much like the story that Moses the Raven from Animal farm told us about Sugarcandy mountain.

So, if you really want to have a very different 2018, start by dropping resolutions and work with something that gets your back to the grind.


How We Replaced Resolutions

You can probably guess that I am not a big fan of resolutions (as if I hid that fact). Sometime later, I got introduced to setting New Year goals – I can’t say this really worked for me either. I’ll tell you the reason why later.

But I think goals do a better job of helping us to make our lives better than resolutions. But it’s not just any goal that we throw out there that help us become better – they have to be compelling goals.

In the words of Michael Hyatt, goals are compelling or exciting when they’re one of these four characteristics. They’re either spiritually meaningful, intellectually stimulating, emotionally energizing, or physically challenging.

So, do any of your goals meet any of these four characteristics?


My Problem With Goals

Like I said, I had a problem with just setting goals.

Just setting goals looked very much like building a house without a clear foundation. I found it a bit difficult to set goals without seeing the clear connection they have to the rest of who I am.

You see I am very much of a creative story-teller-thinker kind of guy. I like to see everything as subplots to one big story plot. Once I was able to get that structure into my planning approach, it makes everything else easy to follow.

I see my life as more than a one-year goal drive. And that was when I came up with my system that incorporates the one-year goal drive into a life planning process.

Goals are compelling or exciting when they’re one of these four characteristics. They’re either spiritually meaningful, intellectually stimulating, emotionally energizing, or physically challenging

My Approach To Setting My Yearly Goals

As I said earlier, I always like to think first about my life. So, I first come up with the vision for my life. Afterwards, I come up with the vision for key aspects of my life that I believe I need to set goals in.

Currently, I have 11 areas, these are – spiritual, physical, personal leadership, accountability circle, marital, parental, financial, work, church, social and community. The work I do in under these areas are:

  1. I come with my vision for that area
  2. I explain to myself who I would need to be to know that I am living up to that vision
  3. I identify where or who I currently am
  4. I identify the current villains stopping me from becoming the person I identified in step 2
  5. I come up with the strategy to address this
  6. I come up with the specific goals that go with the strategy that I need to work on

This means that setting goals are the last piece of the jigsaw but it makes them more compelling to me. I can see how the fit into my big picture. And in reality, I don’t need to change item 1 & 2 most of the time – it’s really 3-6 that changes from time to time.


How I Plan My Life Not My Year

Let me show you how this works with one of the areas I mentioned earlier – spiritual

My Vision: I want to be intimate in my relationship with God so that I respond to Him rightly and to the things that touch His heart the way He wants

What It Means: Living confidently as His child because I know His thoughts about me and having a regular time to practice my spiritual disciplines.

Where am I: devotion time focused more on God & His desires ahead of me and my needs, clear prayer focus, regular study of the word, no practice of biblical meditation, intermittent break in devotion times, focusing on activity completion rather intimacy deepening in my bible study.

Current Villains: having too many items on my plate, inability to drop the urgent over the important

Strategy: Re-order my personal world to give priority to God

Goals: Complete the meditational study of the New Testament in 2018. Commence 30 minutes daily reflection time from January.

How To Work Out Your Goals In The New Year

A couple of researchers from Wharton came up with a reason why we all love to set yearly goals.

According to them, “people are more likely to tackle their goals immediately following salient temporal landmarks. If true, this little-researched phenomenon has the potential to help people overcome important willpower problems that often limit goal attainment.

Across three archival field studies, we provide evidence of a “fresh start effect.” We show that Google searches for the term “diet” (Study 1), gym visits (Study 2), and commitments to pursue goals (Study 3) all increase following temporal landmarks (e.g., the outset of a new week, month, year, or semester; a birthday; a holiday).

We propose that these landmarks demarcate the passage of time, creating many new mental accounting periods each year, which relegate past imperfections to a previous period, induce people to take a big-picture view of their lives, and thus motivate aspirational behaviors.”

How To Work Out Your Goals In The New Year

If these guys are right, then I’d like to suggest one more for you. Instead of running your goals over one year, run it over one quarter. This means you give yourself four re-starts in the year to reset your goals and see if you are living to be the person you envisioned for yourself.

You don’t have to wait 365 days before you make the changes – you can do it in 90 days. And if you have the stuff in you, you can run your 90-day goals in 2-week sprints. And from there, work it into your everyday life.

But if that sounds like a mountain too high to climb, you can start with just the 90-day goals. As the good book says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” – Ps 90:12.

You gain better wisdom to make 2018 your Best Year Ever when you run with shorter days.

I look forward to reading your story of 2018 that made God proud of you.


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Tola Akinsulire

A married guy with a precocious son who works his (I mean me, not my son - I bet you know, right?) day job as a financial guy trying to make real estate projects have some sense to the investor. I like to talk about what I learn along the way as I live my faith in life (family, work, friendships, fellowship, community and anything else you can put here).