Five Questions to Ask Yourself When Setting Goals

setting goals

For many, the new year is a time to reflect, renovate and resolve. It’s a great time to think about how we want to do better in our lives by creating goals to improve our wellness, habits and personal and professional development. While over half of all Americans make resolutions in the new year, some studies have shown that most only progress toward their goal for around seven days after the first of the year.

This statistic may sound surprising. In reality, it may be because the goals people set aren’t specific enough, they are too drastic or the goal-setter hasn’t thought about how to accomplish or measure the goal. Here are five questions to ask yourself as you establish your New Year’s resolutions.

What is the goal that you are trying to reach?

Logically, you must establish what goal you want to accomplish before figuring out how to put a checkmark next to that goal in the future. A goal like “I want to eat better” may be great in its intention, but you will want it to be more specific to maintain the likelihood of achieving it.

If you have more than one goal, which one is the most important right now?

Often, we want to make a long list of resolutions at the new year and try to work toward all of them at once. This may not be the best strategy, and taking the time to prioritize your top goals can allow you to better focus on them. If you find yourself overwhelmed by a long list of items you want to achieve, pare down and determine which goals would make future ones easier to accomplish.

Ask yourself when, where and how you might be able to reach your goal.

Let’s go back to the goal “I want to eat better.” To make this goal more specific, think about the when, where and how. It may be easiest to start small. For example: “I want to eat healthier three workdays per week.” Now, add the where: “I want to eat a healthier lunch three workdays per week.” Finally, think about how this goal might be accomplished, “I am going to bring my lunch from home on three workdays per week and make sure that it includes one fruit and one vegetable.”

How long are you giving yourself to complete your goal?

For most people, if you do the same routine for 21 days, you have made it into a habit. You can use this number as a benchmark for your goals, or if you think the goal will be more challenging to accomplish, allow a slightly longer timeline. It may be helpful to write the goal on a calendar and cross days off as you achieve them or put the goals in the palm of your hand by using an app that will help you track your progress, such as “Way of Life or “Strides.

Can I measure my growth?

If we continue with our healthy eating goal of “I am going to bring my lunch from home on three workdays per week and make sure that it includes one fruit and one vegetable,” the progress on this goal is easily defined. The ability to measure the success of your goal is critical for feeling accomplished and motivated, which will help you set and complete future resolutions. If this goal were “I want to eat better,” your ability to determine if you did indeed “eat better” over the timeline of the goal would be nearly impossible to measure.

As you continue to create your New Year’s resolutions for 2022, remember to ask yourself these five questions. You will be well-equipped to accomplish everything you hope for in the year ahead!