Happy New Year, friends! You know what that means . . . This is that eagerly anticipated season where we collectively hop on social media and swap goals, intentions, or “words of the year” — which we will most likely forget about come February.
Or the second week of January.
Or even January 2nd.
Be honest: Did you keep your resolutions from last year? Do you even remember what your resolutions were? If so, good for you! But according to the research, 93% of us don’t follow through on these annual life-changing plans.
We set resolutions, but what we’re really setting ourselves up for is failure.
Now, before you cry out in despair, “THEN WHY EVEN TRY??” and relegate yourself to a life of couch-surfing and Netflix-bingeing, hang tight. We’re not suggesting you don’t try to improve yourself or set lofty, challenging goals. Progress is something everyone should aim for.
But if you want to see some real success — some positive change in your life — here’s our suggestion: Don’t set New Year’s resolutions.
Do this instead.
Focus on daily habits
Our SexyModest founders, Brigitte and Jason Shamy, don’t believe in setting resolutions at New Year’s. In fact, when they see people posting about “New Year, New You,” they gag a little.
“We’re a little different in this because we don’t do New Year’s resolutions,” Brigitte said on their podcast. “Not that they’re a bad thing . . . Just, in my opinion, when people do them, they don’t do them correctly and they set themselves up to fail.”
But why don’t they work? And why can most of us never stick to them? Brig has an idea.
“If we only have the will to make changes in our life once a year, you’re going to have some problems,” she says. “The truth is, the changes and the goals and the key to happiness in your life and achieving things happens in your daily habits every day. Not what you’re going to do for the new year . . . but every day in your daily habits.”
So, let’s say you’ve got a goal to reach a certain weight this year. You could just throw that wish out into the universe and hope it manifests itself at some point because you’re going to go running and eat a few more vegetables occasionally. That might work . . . but probably not. At least not in the long term.
Because without concrete, sustainable habits that you practice consistently, nothing’s going to change for good. If you really want to transform your health, it starts with something small and achievable. (For example: “Instead of drinking soda, I’m going to drink water every day.”)
Once you get a taste of success with those smaller habits, that’s when you can start to build up to more challenging steps. But you’ve got to do it. Every. Single. Day.
Sound difficult? Well, keep reading!
Practice consistency, not perfection
It’s one of life’s many paradoxes, but failure — especially how you handle it — is a big part of success. When you set big goals, when you commit to being better at something, you can pretty much expect some road bumps along the way. But don’t let that get you down.
“Change is always hard,” says Jason. “Getting better at something is always difficult. It’s always a challenge, that’s why you aspire to do it — there’s a better version of you out there. Even when you try so hard, you and I are going to fail. But the key to winning at life is what you will do when you fail, when you are down. When you have a weak moment. That doesn’t mean it’s over.”
Jason adds that these setbacks are a chance to find out what you’re made of. If you break your promise to not eat sugar by eating one cookie, are you going to give up and eat the whole pan? Or if you blow a tire, do you throw up your hands in frustration and slash the rest of them?
No. You patch it up. And you get back on the road.
“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes us . . . it’s what we do consistently,” Brig says. “We’re all going to fall off the wagon here and there, we’re all going to mess up, make mistakes . . . you can’t stay on track 100% of the time. But what do you do consistently? Because that is what’s going to shape you.”
Better is better than best
If mantras are your thing, here’s one from Simon Sinek that you’ll want to adopt for the new year: Better is better than best. Here’s what he means by that:
“Any great athlete, company or leader that is actually capable of staying ahead of the pack for any significant period of time is able to do so not because they think they are the best, but because they show up every day to do better than their most important competitor of all: themselves.”
Or as another famous dude once said/sang, “If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.”
That’s not an easy course of action. The easy thing to do certainly would be to just sit around and never take risks, never push yourself. But there’s also no fun in that.
Now then — how DO you go about setting goals you can actually achieve?
Create SMART goals
You’ve probably heard this acronym before, but if not, here’s what it means to set goals that are SMART:
Specific. Again, don’t just say that you’re going to “eat healthier.” Be specific: “I’m going to eat a vegetable every single day!”
Measurable. You have to be able to track your progress. Can you mark “yes” or “no” on the calendar each day? Are you a % of the way there? It’s not all about numbers, but you should be able to track some type of forward progression.
Achievable. Instead of saying, “I’m going to lose X pounds,” focus on the steps and not the outcome. You have no idea if you’re actually going to lose the weight in a certain time. But you can be successful in the daily goals you set. (“Today I ate my vegetables!”)
Realistic. Oh, you want to suddenly be in shape, cook a killer dinner and learn how to play the guitar all at once? Good luck with that. Don’t overwhelm yourself, here. Start small or you’ll set yourself up for disappointment.
Time-bound. Whether you’re working toward a specific event (e.g., training for an Ironman, like Brigitte did) or you’re developing a new habit, it helps to have a set date to look forward to. Going back to the healthy eating example, you could say that you’re going to eat at least one vegetable every single day for a week. Then shoot for a month, six months, a year, etc. That’s how habits are formed!
Brigitte and Jason have a suggestion for any goal you’re hoping to achieve this year:
- Write it down.
- Don’t quit until you’ve done it every day for six months.
Can you imagine how much better you’ll be at playing the guitar if you watch a tutorial online and practice every day for six months? You may not be Keith Richards, but you’ll be miles better than you were, that’s for sure!
Remember to reflect
There’s one more aspect to goal-setting that a lot of people overlook because they’re often told not to look back. Author John C. Maxwell talks about the importance of reflection — of looking back at your goals. If you find that something doesn’t work, just try something else!
And choose your role models wisely
Finally, goal setting may be a personal thing, but it certainly helps to surround yourself with good influences.
“If you want to set yourself up to win, your support system is going to be key,” says Jason. “Here’s where social (media) rocks: You get to choose who you follow, who you don’t. Who influences you and who doesn’t. Find someone who has what you want, do what they do, and you’ll get the results.”
The recipe to success
So now you know the big “secret” when it comes to goal setting. It’s not big at all. It’s actually very small. Small, daily efforts that you stick to consistently. That, friends, is the key to success.
“Success is in the daily efforts,” says Brig, “If you want success in the long term, you must be able to make the daily adjustments in the short term.”
Don’t worry about what you’re going to achieve this year. What are you going to do TODAY?
(To hear Brigitte and Jason’s full podcast episode about New Year’s resolutions, click here.)