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  • Writer's pictureSamantha

How to set realistic goals for the New Year

Firstly, I am not here to preach to you about making New Year’s resolutions. I am sure there are many of you here that start each year with good intentions (me included), only to have got bored by week four and revert to old ways. Then next year comes and we start again usually with the same resolution and the same “stickability” and the circle continues year in, year out.

Often, we don’t consider: ‘how much do I want to change? ’If motivation to change is low, then chances are we will not reach our goal. Statistics suggest only 16 per cent of people stick to their resolutions. We go into the New Year with this good intention wearing rose-tinted glasses about achieving our resolution. How much thought have you given to achieving this goal?

Let’s take an example:

I am going to join the gym and exercise three times a week‘.

OK, this seems achievable but then one week you can’t make it, and then the next week you start to make excuses and then you feel like you have failed so you give up. Ask yourself this question: are you ready to change? If the answer is no, be honest with yourself and maybe this is not the right time for you to make the change. If it is yes, how do you make your goal more manageable?

Goal setting is important to help us achieve our goals. We also need to have a plan with this – and a way of managing obstacles and barriers. Looking at the example above it was the obstacle of not managing one week that led to the negative thought process and then just giving up and feeling a failure.

Dr Gabrielle Oettingen, Professor of Psychology at New York University, developed the WOOP method, a goal setting strategy based on “Mental Contrasting”. The WOOP framework has four parts so let us put our goal into action:

1 Wish. Create a wish and describe it in three to six words:

I want to improve my fitness

Envision the Outcome and describe it in three to six words:

More energy, improves my mental wellbeing

Identify the Obstacle:

I might find it hard to fit this in with work and other obligations

I sometimes can’t motivate myself at the end of a busy day

4 Plan. You have identified your obstacle – how are you going to manage?

I am going to take my gym bag to work and then I can go straight to the gym without going home;

I am going to organise with my partner that they cook dinner on certain days of the week to allow time for the gym

If I miss a session, it’s not a big deal, I just go to the next one

At the end you can WOOP! You have created a great strategy for helping you make your goals more achievable: placing more thought into how you are going to do this, if it is something you really want to achieve, and what you can do to overcome obstacles.

This takes away that feeling of failure when you don’t live up to your own expectations.

Remember this can be done any time of the year and for many different goals. Happy goal setting everyone and remember to give yourself a WOOP!


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