Smart goal setting in the New Year

Published on: 3rd January 2018

The start of a new year often leads us to reflect and make plans to address areas of our lives we feel are out of balance. Things like healthy eating, regular exercise and giving up smoking and/or alcohol can have a real positive impact on our mental and physical health. Despite every year millions of people making New Year's resolutions almost 80% of us fail to achieve them. Most of us strive for unrealistic goals and ultimately set ourselves up for a failure and disappointment. The following tips have been shown to assist people in achieving their goals:

Be realistic

Setting unattainable goals leads us to giving up on our desired change. For example, if you imagine the process of change looking like a set of stairs we would not set out to get to the top by trying to jump from the bottom in one go! Think all the steps you will need to step on to get to the top and plan this ahead of getting started. Commitment to addressing one small thing at a time can lead us to making the change we desire and can prevent us feeling overwhelmed.  Focus on the next step can keep you motivated, act as reminder as to how far you have progressed and if you feel overwhelmed at any point you can build in another step into your stairs to assist you on your journey.


Develop a support network

Friends, family and colleagues can all help you - talk to them about what you're planning to do and tell them how they can help.


Measure your successes

Stay motivated by measuring how far you've come each week. This will help you realise how small changes can make a big difference.

Reward yourself

Celebrate when you succeed with a treat, which doesn't necessarily have to be the thing you're trying to avoid.

Treat failure as a small setback

Experiencing a setback is a normal part of change as long as you learn from it. If you slip and break your diet, forget to exercise or have a secret cigarette, don't despair! Learn from the setback: what situations made you slip? Can you avoid them next time? Don't obsess over small setbacks - it won't help you achieve your goal. Start fresh the next day. Don't give up!


Make your resolution stick

After a couple of weeks, the changes you've made will become a habit and part of your routine, so don't be discouraged if you're still finding it hard after the first week. Stick to it and it will only get easier!

Value yourself

We frequently overlook the one thing that is worth committing to this year - yourself – your wellbeing, your happiness, and your general mental health. Thinking how the change you are making fits into your values can keep you on track. The great thing is that there is no failure. If you’re dedicating some time and care for your mental health, you’re already doing something brilliant.  Other New Year’s resolutions people can do to support their mental health:

  • Make sure you spend time with people you care about.
  • Take a break when you need it. Leave work at work.
  • Find a hobby you love. Make this year the year you find your ‘thing’.
  • Get more sleep.
  • Learn to be ok with saying no.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others when using social media. Comparison is a thief of joy.
  • Do something physical at least one a week – the power of endorphins on mental health and a way to vent stress and anger

Get help with your depressed and/or anxious mood if you need it. It is as simple as completing the self-referral form on the steps2change website.