It’s that time of year again: we’ve all eaten (and drunk) a bit too much at Christmas, spent too much money on presents and our last trip to the gym was…well, a long time ago. December and all its festivities simply tend to get in the way of personal goals! Which is why January is the time of year when many people, myself included, tell themselves to get back on the wagon and set a long list of New Year’s resolutions. These often include health and fitness goals like losing weight or exercising more, financial goals such as saving money, but also goals related to personal development, for example learning a new skill or language! Of course we sincerely hope that learning English is on your list for 2020! 😊
Now, writing down your goals is not that big a challenge – following through on them, on the other hand, is a whole different story. Few of us succeed in sticking with our New Year’s resolutions for more than a month or so, as life simply gets on top of you sometimes. This is why we’d like to offer a few tips for turning your 2020 goals into reality!
Set a goal that motivates you
Make sure the goal you set is important to you and only you – so many times we try to achieve things just to please other people or because of peer pressure / societal pressure, which is not a good motivator!
Don’t set too many goals
A common mistake in resolution setting is having too many. Learning 25 different languages, 15 new job skills and eliminating 5 bad habits may sound great, but we are not superheroes. We only have so much time and energy and money to spend on self-improvement, so having too many resolutions is bound to make you give up altogether. It’s better to tackle one resolution well than multiple resolutions poorly.
When it comes to setting resolutions, it’s easy to set bad goals that could lead to nothing. Fortunately, the SMART goal setting strategy can help with this. We’ll use English as an example goal to illustrate how SMART goals work.
SMART goals are:
Specific – For example: ‘learn how to write better emails in English’ is more specific than ‘improving my English’.
Measurable – For example: I will learn 10 new English words every week.
Attainable – For example: learning 100 new words every week is probably pretty hard to do. Learning 5 or 10, however, is doable.
Relevant – Keep it relevant to your priorities and goals. See point 1!
Time-sensitive – give yourself a time-frame or deadline. For example, I will aim to take (and pass) an English proficiency exam in September.
Write down your goals
While it’s great to have goals, it is essential to write them down somewhere in some way. Here are four reasons why:
- They are easy to forget!
- Writing down your resolutions helps you clarify what it is you want to achieve. It forces you to make decisions and be precise with your words.
- Having your goals in writing is a constant reminder to take action.
- Written goals are a reminder of how far you have come and what you have achieved.
Share your resolutions with others
It’s great to make a resolution for yourself and maybe even write it down, but if no one else knows about it, it’s easy to forget about or even ignore. And when you don’t achieve it, no one will notice or care. However, if you decide to tell someone about your goal, you will feel a sense of obligation and accountability. If you don’t follow through, you will feel like you’ve let everyone down. This sense of guilt is actually often more powerful than self-motivation! Plus, when you do succeed, the people you shared with will celebrate with you!
Automate where possible
Nowadays there are a million different apps and services to help you follow through on your resolutions. These free tools, such as Google Calendar, ToDoist, Boomerang etc., can help provide a constant reminder of what you want to achieve that day.
Review your resolutions regularly
Let’s face it, if you are not thinking about your resolution regularly, you are not going to follow through. Therefore, a crucial part of realizing your goal is a regular review. At a minimum, this review should be monthly, but the more frequent the better. A weekly check-in to check progress is the ideal.
If you fall off track, get back on the horse quickly.
Keep in mind that little setbacks like skipping a task, missing a goal by 10% (or more), finishing a task late or any other form of ‘’weakness’’ does NOT mean you have failed. You only fail when you stop trying! What’s important is to understand what lead to the setback and how you can avoid them in future. For example: “If I play video games after work, I will not go to the gym. Don’t play video games after work!”
Final comment: Rome wasn’t built in a day! Be patient with yourself and take it one day at a time, one step at a time.
We hope these tips will help you follow through on your resolutions and make 2020 your best year yet. Remember that if learning English is on your list, our team (and our new Personal Coaching program!) are here to help you achieve that goal!
Glossary – vocabulary related to GOALS
a promise to yourself to do or to not do something:
I made a resolution to give up chocolate.
to succeed in finishing something or reaching an aim:
I’ve been working all day, but I feel as if I’ve achieved nothing.
something that needs great effort in order to be done successfully and tests a person’s ability:
Finding a solution to this problem is one of the greatest challenges faced by scientists today.
GET BACK ON THE WAGON (<=> fall of the wagon)
refraining from any bad habit, e.g. alcohol usage, especially after a period of indulging.
‘’I ate and drank far too much over Christmas, but now I’m getting back on the wagon!’’
to achieve something that you have been aiming for:
She’s been trying to pass her driving test for six years and she’s finally succeeded.
to continue something until it is completed:
The city has raised the money for more teachers – now it has to follow through and hire them.
to continue doing something and not stop or change to something else:
He said that he was going to stick with the traditions established by his grandfather.
to make someone want to do something well:
Teaching is all about motivating people to learn.
something that you do often and regularly:
I always have biscuits with my coffee – it’s just a habit.
the activity of learning new things that make you a more skilled person:
In the interest of self-improvement, I took a Spanish course.
to try to deal with something, usually a problem:
There are many ways of tackling this problem.
something that is very important and must be dealt with before other things:
My first/top priority is to find somewhere to live.
a time or day by which something must be done:
I’m afraid you’ve missed the deadline – the deadline for applications was 30 May.
the fact of being responsible for what you do able to give a satisfactory reason for it.
Citizens must demand accountability from their leaders.
to achieve something you were hoping for:
Lots of money, a luxury house, a fast car – Danny had realized all his ambitions by the age of 25.
movement to an improved or more developed state, or to a forward position:
I’m not making much progress with my Spanish.
GET BACK ON THE HORSE
To return to an activity that you had previously failed at.
I know you’re upset about getting fired, but you need to get back on the horse and start looking for work.
something that delays or prevents a process from developing:
Sally had been recovering well from her operation, but yesterday she experienced/suffered a setback.
to not succeed in what you are trying to achieve or are expected to do:
She moved to London in the hope of finding work as a model, but failed.