Why goals succeed where resolutions fail

By now school, work and daily routines may be ruling your week once again. And if you made any resolutions over the holiday season, chances are you’re probably slipping back into your old ways.

Don’t worry. Research has proven resolutions rarely work. Mainly because resolutions tend to expect us to change habits we’ve built over a lifetime, overnight. Psychology professor Peter Herman calls them the “false hope syndrome" because our resolutions generally don’t align with how we honestly see ourselves, and then we expect too much, too soon. As a result there’s a high chance we’ll fall short and feel discouraged.

The great news is that goals are different to resolutions. They’re a stake in the ground for what we’d like to achieve in life, not who we think we should be. They appeal to a part of us that’s aspirational, and aligns with our values.

And once a goal is made, if nurtured, the decisions we make consciously and subconsciously will help us achieve it. As the famous motivational speaker and author Earl Nightingale said ‘whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality’.

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Setting goals is important to living a good life.

The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score. – Bill Copeland, writer and poet

Goals provide structure, meaning and motivation in life, and they’re great for your self-esteem.  Reaching a goal you’ve worked hard to achieve can be very satisfying and can boost your confidence, helping you believe you can achieve other goals too.

Making goals work

Like most things, goals are often created twice. First in your mind (setting the goal), then physically (making it happen).

We can make our goals work by aligning our rational mind with our emotional one. When we set a goal, we’re often rational, considered and practical. For example, deciding to save to buy a house is often based on reasons like building wealth, owning an asset and having some certainty.

When putting our plans into action, decisions along the way are more likely to be emotional ones. For example, we may be tempted to spend our savings when living in the moment, or we may become discouraged when house hunting. But by having some strategies for keeping our eyes on the prize, we can stay on track.  

Steps for sticking to your goals

The following steps will help you stick to, and achieve a goal.

  1. Make it realistic. Having a big goal is great, but don’t expect to achieve it tomorrow.
  2. Have some structure. To be successful, a goal needs to be able to be broken down and mapped out.
  3. Track its progress. This is important because it encourages us to stay focused, engaged and motivated.

Life is better when we’re working towards something. Why not pick up a pen and write your goals down, or have a play on AMP’s Goals explorer tool.

We’re here to help.

Reaching your goals doesn’t happen by chance, and most of us need help to plan for them. So whatever your goal and wherever you're at, we’ll help you explore, plan, track and realise your goals for a better tomorrow.

Book your Goals Exploration session with an AMP Advice practice today.

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