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Published on December 30, 2016

Setting Goals Chalkboard

Set Specific Goals for New Year’s Success

If you’re among the 80 percent of Americans who just say PASS when it comes to setting New Year’s resolutions – think again. We can all use some positive change, and with a bit of insight, yes, you can achieve your goals in 2017.

If you’re specific, and consider the supporting goals that go along with the “big” ones, your chances of success will skyrocket.

That’s the word from Avera outpatient therapist Alysa Klein, MA, CAC. She said hitting a personal “reset button” at the start of a new year is never a bad idea.

“There’s a freshness that comes each January, so it’s a good time to set ourselves up for change. You can have success, but there are some things to consider,” said Klein. “We hear about people who end up failing in their resolutions all the time, but often they are people who struggle to set goals up, period.”

To beat the trend, focus on specific goals and think about how small goals can lead to big things.

“Write down your goals and seek out an accountability partner, because that way you can team up and help each other strive for those positive changes,” Klein said. “When you partner up, you can motivate one another. If you keep your goals or resolutions secret, it’s much easier to just give up on them.”

If you have a big goal, like weight loss, break it into smaller ones, like this:

  • Big Goal: Lose 20 pounds
  • Smaller Goal No. 1: Eat 120 grams of protein daily
  • Smaller Goal No. 2: Eat five cups of vegetables daily
  • Smaller Goal No. 3: Exercise for 30 minutes three days each week

Klein said these building blocks work because they are specific and you can measure them – all part of your New Year reset.

“Resetting is a good idea because we can let the past go and start the New Year with optimism about our self-identity and where we’re headed. Remember: we all have that self-defeating voice,” she said. “As you make those specific goals and their supporting goals, don’t be too hard on yourself when you miss a day or fail to hit the mark.”

These are your resolutions, after all. Break them down on a “Today I will …” level. Don’t think about the 364 other days.

“One day doesn’t equal a whole year,” Klein said. “Tomorrow is a new day, so if you fell off your plan and ate too much pizza, don’t throw out your plans for the whole year. It’s only one day. Tomorrow will be a new one. That way it’s not so overwhelming.”

Klein said specific goals should be measurable, too. If “lose 15 pounds” is your goal, make sure it has a “by March 1” or other date on there, or you’ll be losing that weight for who knows how long.

“Be specific, be accountable and measure – all can add up to success,” she said. “Partner up with a group or a friend – or your spouse – and remember to take it day by day. I believe you can do it.”

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