The Complexities of Setting Goals For the New Year

An Individual's hands typing the words

An Individual’s hands typing the words “GOALS 2020” in blue into a laptop’s white screen. Labeled for Reuse by Creative Commons.

How long have New Year’s Resolutions been around?

It was actually 4,000 years ago when the Ancient Babylonians were still around. But why do we still do them? These New Year’s resolutions have been an often-observed tradition all across the globe. Does setting goals for the coming year help keep us on track with the things that matter?

English teacher Christie Brady believes goals only make us better, “Only if we follow through with them [goals].”

So, if one does not go through with the act of achieving and committing to a goal, we cannot become better people?

Brady is already thinking about her New Year’s Resolution and stated, “I want to be more healthy and more balanced in my life.”

The main issue with these goals is staying on top of them. How does one strategize correctly to succeed with their goals?

“I think we need to start with the big idea and then break it down to small pieces,” Brady remarked.

“I want to be healthier…. [but] that is too big and nebulous. I would break it down to say: I want to eat healthier. Still too big. So. Maybe. I am going to eat less sugar. Still too nebulous. Goals need to be specific, measurable, and accomplishable,” Brady responded to the surface of strategizing on taking on your goals head-on.

Brady continued to elaborate, “Therefore I cannot make the goal that I will eat NO sugar because I will never follow through with that. Instead, I would say: I will not eat dessert on the weekdays for 30 days.”

Nutrition and fitness have been a longtime goal for many people and good reason. Everyone likes to look good in front of a mirror and be able to say they look snappy. But it takes time and determination as Brady has illustrated.

“This is something I can do and will do. At 30 days I will check-in and adjust- maybe I will only eat dessert once every 2 weeks for 2 months….for example,” Brady brought her example to a close. “So, take a big idea- break it down into specific measurable steps and then do check-ins and adjust. That is my strategy.”

Now, another problem is, what goals are beneficial to us and which are not? Air Academy Junior Josh Kates believes, “goals help create better habits as long as they are realistic and applicable to our lives.”

“Daily- eat 3 meals, exercise at least 30 minutes, at least 8 hours sleep, at least 1-hour outside-Long term- 5.0 GPA, learn songs on the piano, learn to cook,” Kates informed on what he was looking forward to in the coming year of 2021.

Kates devised a similar yet unique plan to Brady’s: “I think you should write down your daily and long-term goals first thing every morning. Then review them that night.” Kates continued forward by saying, “This allows you to see if you accomplished your short term goals, and really reinforce the idea of your long term goals.”

Health advocate and mother of two, Ruth Cintora believes, “goals help make better habits. To accomplish a goal, you have to start doing things differently and consistently and by doing so, you learn new ways, which become new habits.”

Brady added to Cintora’s comment, “I think all goals are worthwhile. Anything that makes you stretch and grow is worthwhile. The best goals are ones that help you be happy in the long run.”

Kates furthermore believes that “the simple and short term goals are the best kind. They’re often overlooked, and because of that they’re often actually the hardest.”

Many people have different views on what makes up an important goal. Is it finding true love? Money and success? Happiness?

“The best kind of goals are the ones that will help you grow personally. Especially mentally. When you have a positive mindset, it’s easier to set any type of goal,” Cintora opinioned. “Those less important, are the ones that can wait and won’t affect you. For example, for me, it would be organizing my closets.”

In the end, goals are a perfect way to push us further to our limits. They build character and a better version of ourselves. “Make sure you’re doing the little things right before you try to do the big things right,” Kates found was the most critical part of surpassing your goals.