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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions

Setting goals for the year ahead almost never works, but there IS a better way.

We all want to improve. Whether it’s eating better, going to the gym, getting a promotion at work or having a better relationship, it’s a good bet that you would like to see yourself differently when 2022 rolls around. 

But did you know that 90% of New Year’s resolutions fail? Practices that don’t work the vast majority of the time should be let go, but most of us keep making the same mistakes year after year. But what if you knew how to adjust your goal so that it could be accomplished?

Finding the Sweet Spot

It sounds crazy, but by making 90-day goals, you can be much more successful. One month is generally too short to make an inroad to your goals, while spinning them out to six months or a year can run the risk that you’ll lose your ambition. Measurable change is possible in 90 days, no matter what you’re working to achieve, and it’s a time frame that is not totally daunting.

It’s fine to set a larger goal that may take a year, or three, to accomplish. But break it down into 90-day segments so that you can meet mini goals as you build the habits and skills you need. The funny thing is, people tend to underestimate what they can accomplish in a couple of years, but overestimate what they are able to get done in a week. 90 days is the sweet spot where what you’d like to do, and what you can do, actually meet. 

What You Can Achieve in 90 Days

You may be surprised how much you can do in 90 days. It’s possible to become fairly proficient at speaking a new language and be ready for traveling to a foreign land. You could become quite good at baking bread and pastry, able to critique the home cooks on the Great British Bake Off show. Or you could do as one personal finance blogger did and produce your first rock and roll album; find out how he did it here.  

If you don’t want to tackle something so intensive, that’s fine. You can decide how much time per day you’d like to dedicate to your goal, and that will help you break it down into steps that are both achievable and will create noticeable results. Retirees may be able to dedicate five or six hours a day, while others may have one or two. 

It’s important to make a time commitment and stick to it. Someone learning to bake may be looking up recipes, studying the science behind leavening agents, attending a cooking class, blogging about different flours or baking a cake over and over until it comes out just right. As one person said, if you have a five hour commitment and you are feeling brain-dead from study and work toward your goal, one way to get the last hour in fairly painlessly is to watch YouTube videos on the subject. You will not feel as excited about your goal every day; but you have to put in the time.

Creating a Plan

Start with a challenging goal that you think you can achieve in 90 days. Break it down into mini goals that will help you maintain focus and take daily action so that you develop the skills needed to reach your larger goal. If 90 days is not enough, it’s fine to start with a very challenging, bigger goal that could take a year or more to hit. But reduce it into 90-day segments, and take one segment at a time.

You may want to lose 40 pounds, for example. Break that down to 10 pounds every three months, then figure out specific steps you need to take to get there. Your first step might be to read about how to achieve your goal, then you might sign up for a program. You may need to start a food journal or speak with a nutritionist. All of these mini-steps would contribute to your overall goal.

Summing it up, you’ll be much more successful with your resolutions if you make them for 90 days, rather than a year. A shorter time frame allows you to make considerable progress without wiping out all of your motivation. Dedicate a set number of hours to work on your goal per day, and you’ll be amazed how much progress you can make in three months!

Click below for the other articles in the January 2021 Senior Spirit