My Thoughts on Goal Setting and New Year’s Resolutions

Every year we go through the same drill. People make resolutions like lose weight, eat healthy, save money, etc. And every year another group of people makes fun of them for doing it. It’s like the stuck up hardcore gym member who hates all the newbies in January.

Anyhow, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about goal setting and resolutions and here’s a few thoughts I had on the subject.

*The biggest mistake people make is setting goals they can achieve.*

When something is in grasp, you lose motivation. Think about how many super awesome beneficial videos you have bookmarked to watch on YouTube. They’re sitting there. They’re free. They’re within grasp. You want to watch them. You’ve been planning to watch them. But you don’t.

It’s because things that are easily within grasp simply do not inspire us.

Losing 10 pounds? Attainable, but not inspirational.

Save an extra $20/month? Attainable, but not inspirational.

Volunteer and get active in the community? Attainable, but not inspirational.

Last year I set a goal to read 25 books in 2014. I doubled it and read almost 50. This is a smashing success. The logical next step is to up my game and set a new goal to read 75 this year. Now that I know how to do it, I can fine-tune it and increase it.

The problem is this doesn’t really motivate me. I will be beneficial, and I still might try to do it — but it no longer is something I can sustain focus on for an entire year.

The other issue with common resolutions is we have failed at them before. Everyone has tried to get more fit, and failed. Save more money, and failed. Volunteer more, and failed.

By thinking in those terms, we almost program ourselves to repeat the same pattern and fail the same way with the same goals. We carry our failures forward.

We set goals we think we can do, if we have a plan — we tell ourselves we can follow it and achieve it.

Simon Sinek in his famous Ted talk mentioned that Martin Luther King gave the “I have a dream speech” not the “I have a plan speech”.

To succeed in creating a change, you still need to have measurable SMART goals and all that stuff — BUT -

Your goals must be something that lights a fire in you. It has to be something big and seemingly unattainable. It’ has to motivate you to the point that you go all out or go for bust. Think big. Then think bigger. And even then you’re selling your true dream a bit short.

Here’s an analogy. Pretend you’re a tutor. Is your 2015 goal to make $100k? Or is your goal to “teach 10,000 people”?

Change your frame of reference. How many lives can you impact? What do you need to do to make that happen?

Those big picture questions will help you find the purpose in why you want to change them.That’s the only way you will commit.

WHY are you trying to do this? For example, making Hajj is a huge goal. Once that becomes your main thing, other items such as praying on time, making more dua, saving money and so on will automatically fall into place. Hajj is a big enough motivator to make you do those things. But something like “I should save $50/month so 47 years from now i’ll have a nest-egg” doesn’t move the inspiration meter.

For 2015 take your goal setting in 2 stages.

Stage 1- BIG picture. What do you truly want to accomplish, and WHY?

Then, and only then, stage 2 — breaking it down into chunks to help get there. Just make sure to keep your eye on the big picture while you progress through the trenches.


P.S. I’m working on some new stuff related to personal growth and productivity in 2016 — sign up here (and get a free ebook as well).