Turn your wish into a goal

6 steps to make your New Year’s resolution a reality

Many of us will make at least one New Year’s resolution, but less than a quarter of us will actually achieve them. So how can you turn your New Year’s resolution wish into a goal?

1. Put it in writing

Writing your goal down helps clarify what you want to accomplish and increases your sense of accountability. It’s like a mini-contract with yourself.

Say your goal is to stop smoking, lose weight, reduce your alcohol intake, get over your fear of heights, be less dependent on your smartphone, or change jobs. Write down exactly what you want to achieve.

2. Now re-write it as a SMART goal

A SMART goal is specific, measurable, achievable, results-oriented and time-bound.

For instance, if you want to lose weight, how much do you want to lose? How will you measure your success? Over what period? Is this goal achievable?

A SMART goal might look like this:

  • ‘I plan to lose an average of 0.5 kilograms a week over 6 months and drop a dress-size.’
  • ‘I plan to stop smoking by the end of January and save $130 a week.’

Break your goal down into smaller SMART milestones to give you something to keep working toward and provide a sense of achievement along the way. For example, instead of aiming to lose 10 kilograms over 6 months, which can seem overwhelming, aim to lose an average of 1.6 kilograms a month. This builds smaller milestones into your plan that you can tick off as you go.

3. What is your motivation?

Having a clear vision of exactly why you want to change will help you focus on achieving your goal. Consider:

  • If you don’t make this change what will be happening for you, what will your life be like?
  • When you have made the change, what won’t be happening for you?
  • When you change what will happen for you, what will your life be like?

These questions will help you examine whether your goal is realistic and uncover any possible negative consequences of making the change.

For instance:

  • If I don’t stop smoking, my health will continue to decline, my clothes and car will stink, I will keep forking out $130 a week on cigarettes.
  • Once I stop smoking, I will have to remember to take regular breaks, and will miss smoking with my friends.
  • Once I stop smoking,I will have more money, I will be able to kick the footy with my kids, my clothes will smell good, and I will be free of addiction.

Through this process, you will uncover your motivation for change, and your motivation for resisting change—the ways it might negatively affect your life. What can you do instead to meet those wants and needs while achieving your goal? For example, if you are worried about weight gain when you stop smoking, you might consider the extra energy and lung capacity you will have to help you exercise more easily.

4. Are you ready for change?

Just because you want to change doesn’t mean you are ready for the reality of what that change involves. Ask yourself how important is your goal? How confident are you that you can achieve it? If you’re not quite ready, what do you need to get there? Do you need to adjust your goal or take interim steps to make your goal more realistic?

5. Plan for success

Planning is as important as implementation if you want to make your change a success. You have a SMART goal, you understand your motivation, you know you are ready, now break your goal down into achievable steps. What do you need to do to prepare for the change? Consider what resources you might need and who can support you in making the changes. Do you need help reaching your goal? How will you stay focused? Does your plan involve changes you can easily incorporate into your everyday life?

6. Make it happen

You have a SMART goal, you have considered your motivation, your readiness for change, and have made a plan for success. What are you waiting for? Start your change today!