Why I started setting goals instead of making resolutions every new year

OPINION: The process of defining concrete goals and laying out a roadmap for reaching them has had many benefits for me.

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Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

It’s that time of year again when we make promises to ourselves about what we are going to do in the year to come. 

In previous years, I got all caught up in making resolutions. “I’m going to eat healthier.” “I’m going to make more money.” “I’m going to lose weight.” “I’m going to get in shape.” 

You name it; I’ve resolved to do them all. 

The problem with those resolutions, however, is that they are completely undefined. What does getting healthier look like? How much money is more money? How much weight would be lost? What does getting in shape look like?

Without a clear, defined goal, those resolutions easily fell into the same category as a lot of other resolutions made by a lot of other people with great intentions: They simply never happened. 

I later realized that without definition, those resolutions were just ideas. They were wishes or dreams for something different, and as we all know, a dream is just a goal without a timeline or a plan to accomplish it. 

So I started setting goals. Goals are defined. They can be divided up into smaller goals that inch your way toward the greater goal. 

As an example, if the goal is to make more money in 2023, then I have to ask myself how much more money do I want to make, or what is the exact amount I want to reach? This isn’t about putting a limit on myself because exceeding the goal is always a plus, but having the goal in the first place is the point because it is the starting place. 

Instead of saying, “I want to make six figures this year,” I define exactly what six-figure amount I want. Then I can map it out and see what it is going to take to get me there. If I have 52 weeks or 365 days to accomplish this, how much do I need to be making a day? How much do I need to be making a week? How much do I need to be making a month? 

Once I have those smaller steps figured out, I can plan accordingly. If I need to make on average X dollars a day in order to reach X dollars by December 31, 2023, how can I do that? What are the steps I can take to hit that goal? 

Planning it this way has its own built-in reward system. As I work my way toward and accomplish each smaller goal, it provides an incentive to keep going until I can reach and accomplish the bigger goal.

That’s what matters in the end right?

I’ve been using this method for the last few years, and I have had a lot more success with keeping my promises to myself than I did when I was making undefined resolutions. Every year, I have the opportunity to raise the bar for myself and achieve something greater. 

Last year, my goal was to be able to sustain my lifestyle without having to work a full-time job. I mapped out what it would take to achieve that — the amount of money I would need each month for the necessities, and the amount I would need over that if I wanted any sort of recreation in my life, including travel. 

Once I knew those numbers, it was easy enough for me to track everything in my bullet journal, and now, a year later, I am happy to say that I not only met that goal, I exceeded it. 

I am not saying my way is the most perfect way, nor am I saying everyone needs to do it this way.

What I am saying is that defining just what your goals are and mapping out how you plan to accomplish them may just be the thing to help you get out of the cycle of failed resolutions. 

Give it a try. 

Monique Judge is a storyteller, content creator and writer living in Los Angeles. She is a word nerd who is a fan of the Oxford comma, spends way too much time on Twitter, and has more graphic t-shirts than you. Follow her on Twitter @thejournalista or check her out at moniquejudge.com.

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