How to Turn Your Resolutions into Reality

How to Turn Your Resolutions into Reality

Setting a New Years resolution feels great, but you’ve already failed at your goals if you aren’t doing these three things.

It’s been about a month since New Year’s day—how are your resolutions doing? Whether you’re a diehard fan of New Year’s Resolutions or think they’re a waste of time, the beginning of the year is a natural time to reflect on missed opportunities from the previous year and dream about potential adventures on the horizon. But why do some resolutions easily become reality, while others seem to stay perpetually out of reach?

The answer is in your approach. Folks who set New Year’s Resolutions only to see them fizzle out few months later aren’t approaching those resolutions like setting a goal. The resolution might be something they want, dream about, or wish they had—but they don’t take time to deliberately create the roadmap to get there.

This doesn’t just apply to New Year’s resolutions. Any time you make a to-do list, sign up for a race, or even just think about what you want to accomplish in the coming week—you are setting goals. The problem is that we often unknowingly hold ourselves accountable to these goals, which we haven’t really defined, and then we feel shameful, embarrassed, and worthless when we fail to accomplish them!

If you find yourself dreaming of what you’d like to check off of your “been there, done that” list for the year, you need to make sure you are actually taking the time to set yourself up for success. Here are three things to do if you really want to accomplish your goals:

Be specific

I mean really specific. If you want to accomplish your goal, you need to outline every detail. At every point in your goal setting process, ask yourself: How can I be more specific? You need to have:

  • A crystal-clear long-term goal providing the vision that inspires you to wake up and get at it each day
  • Clearly defined short-term goals that provide necessary milestones to check off along the way 
  • Daily goals to help you intentionally direct your energy and efforts on your goal path

Plan for Obstacles

After you get specific, the next question to ask yourself is: What are some of the obstacles that could prevent me from accomplishing this goal? For each obstacle you come up with, also come up with your game plan for addressing that obstacle should it arise. Outline exactly how you will handle each obstacle or what you can do to prevent it. By doing this, the decision has already been made so you don’t waste energy worrying and wondering what to do.

Adjust as Necessary

The path to achieving any goal rarely (if ever) follows a perfect upward trajectory to successful completion. Having to revisit your goal doesn’t mean that you’ve failed, it simply means you had to adjust your path—and this is an essential part of the goal-setting process.

When you’re committed to your goals, it’s not a matter of if you accomplish your goal, but when. Don’t lie down and abandon your dream when plans go awry; find a way, even if it means changing your perspective or time frame. Accepting and adjusting is an opportunity to practice resilience—ups and downs are all part of the journey.

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It’s time to become a goal-setting expert.

Take author Carrie Cheadle’s online course Get Your Goals: Effective Goal Setting Strategies for Athletes to get an in-depth look.

Carrie Cheadle

Carrie Jackson Cheadle, MA, CMPC is a professor of sport psychology and an expert in Mental Skills Training. She consults with athletes of all ages and at every level, from recreational athletes to elite and professional athletes competing at national and international levels. Carrie is author of the book On Top of Your Game: Mental Skills to Maximize Your Athletic Performance and co-author of the upcoming book Rebound (Bloomsbury, 2019) focusing on mental training for injured athletes.