5 Ways to Reshape Your Goals so You’ll Actually Follow Through on Them This Year

By Chelsea Babin

As the year draws to a close, everyone spends a little time reflecting on what they’ve accomplished over the last year, what they set out to accomplish that never quite came to fruition, and what work goals they have for the year to come. Whether you call them goals or resolutions, they’re one in the same. If you want to actually follow through on all of your goals this year, try reshaping them in these 5 key ways.

1. What You Can Control: When setting any goal or resolution, it’s important to focus on what you can control (the steps required to get you where you want to be) rather than the results (the final outcome you’re hoping for). For example, if you want to lose 30 pounds, it’s more effective to set goals like eating a salad every day for lunch, going to the gym after work every evening, or doing a Whole30 or couch to 5k challenge. Why? Because you can’t specifically control the rate at which you lose weight, but you can control the actions you take in an attempt to lose weight. For a work-related example, let’s say your goal or resolution is to get a promotion. A better goal is one focused on what you can control like learning a new skill that is pertinent to your job, reading several leadership and management books to prepare for a leadership or management position, or offering to lend a hand on a different project every two weeks. These steps will all lead to added value, which could in turn lead to the promotion you really want.

2. Anything, Not Everything: When you start setting goals based on what you can control, you may notice that you have more goals than ever to accomplish. Don’t panic. As the saying goes, you can do anything but you can’t do everything. Once you have a list of goals you can control, it’s important to take time to prioritize. Which ones should you focus on first? How much can you realistically add to your schedule each day, week, month, quarter, or year? Answer these questions thoughtfully and take your time to prioritize so you have an easy, actionable list to follow through the year.

3. Declare and Find Accountability: If you’re setting goals and keeping them to yourself, they’re way less likely to be achieved. Instead, declare your professional goals to your boss or coworkers. Even better, find yourself an accountability partner who will remind you to stay on track with your goals, expect progress updates, and be disappointed in you if you don’t do what you said you would. This offers further motivation that is sometimes necessary to stick with your challenging goals and resolutions.

4. Break Lofty Goals into Small, Accomplishable Steps: It’s great to have lofty goals like developing an app in your spare time or running a marathon. But, if you don’t take the time to break these lofty goals down into small, actionable steps that you can make progress on daily or at least once a week, you may be setting yourself up for failure. What would it take to achieve your lofty goals? Write down every step, then break each step down even further until you have actionable steps you can take at least once a week, if not every day.

5. Adapt Priorities as Needed: Don’t fall prey to the sunk cost fallacy! A lot of us don’t achieve the goals or resolutions we set for ourselves simply because we’ve lost interest or motivation in them. We want to pivot to a newer goal or resolution, but we feel like we’ve already spent so much time and effort going after our initial goals and resolutions that we shouldn’t change course now. This method of pursuing something that is no longer relevant to your interests or what you really want simply because of the time you’ve already put in is called the sunk cost fallacy. And it’s called a fallacy for a reason! Be prepared to adapt your priorities as needed, changing course on your goals or resolutions so you’re working toward something that is important to you.

Want to start the year off on the right foot and finish the year feeling accomplished and proud of yourself? Reshape your goals or resolutions in these 5 key ways and it will be easier than ever to actually follow through on them and achieve what you set out to before the end of the year.