By Jiji Lee

Already Gave Up on Your New Year's Goals? You Can Still Get Back on Track


Most people give up on their goals. Don't be one of them.

Are you falling behind on your new year’s goals? You’re not alone.

Most people tend to abandon their resolutions within the first few months (or even less) of the new year.

But just because your goals fall by the wayside, doesn’t mean they can’t be dusted off and picked up again. You are not a failure. You don't have to wait until next year.

It’s just a matter of re-activating your goals, right now.

It may be tempting to wait until next year to try again, but you don’t need a ball to drop at midnight to have permission to renew your goals. 

Sure, there’s a certain energy and excitement around New Year’s that makes it perfectly poised for resolutions, but any transition period can be a good time to set goals. After taking this Skillshare class, I learned that transitional life moments, like your birthday or a career change or even a breakup, can also serve as a meaningful time to set goals. Or you can even start today, because any time you commit to setting new goals and improving your life, is going to be an auspicious time. 

And don’t beat yourself for falling off track. As writer James Clear says, “progress is a spectrum, not a specific place.” There will always be peaks and valleys when it comes to resolutions--you just have to stick with it.

We’ve put together tips and strategies to help you assess your goals and see if they need adjusting, and ways to commit to your goals moving forward. So grab your favorite planner and let’s get to work on renewing our goals! 

Losing steam on your goals? Do a life diagnostic 

Before you hit refresh on your goals, you might want to reassess your goals and current situation first. If there are things about your current routine or environment that make accomplishing your goals an extra challenge, you need to know about those things so you can work around them.

Much like getting a physical or a check up on your car, it’s important to shine a light on the main areas of your life and see what needs your attention. 

Reflect on the answers below and see if your routine or mindset need a little tweak here and there to help you jumpstart your goals and get back on track. 

Is your goal concrete and specific? If your goal is too abstract (e.g. I want to eat healthier), modify it to make it clear and specific (eg. I want to eat vegetarian 3 days a week). The concrete detail gives you a concrete task to accomplish.

Are you excited about your goal? Make sure that you’re pursuing this goal for the right reasons and not because you feel any societal or peer pressure. Consider why this goal is meaningful to you. Maybe you want to eat healthier because you want to feel confident and energized. Maybe you want to run a marathon to feel empowered. Maybe you want to go to grad school because you feel passionate about a subject. Connect to the deeper purpose behind your goal and you’ll feel much more excited to pursue it.

How is your daily routine? Are you getting enough sleep, healthy meals, and exercise? Your routine provides the structure and foundation of your new goals. A supportive routine can be as simple as making sure you eat breakfast every day, scheduling daily exercise breaks, or going to bed at the same time. What do you need in order to have the energy to go after your goals?

Do you have the tools you need to succeed? Maybe this means getting a pair of running sneakers for your new fitness goals or updating your workspace and office supplies to support your career goals. Review your workspace and supplies and see if they need a refresh. 

Do you feel any resistance towards your goals? If you’ve been dragging your heels on your resolutions, try to pinpoint what’s behind the procrastination. Do you need more support? Are you worried about failing? Try journaling to help uncover any issues. When you understand what you're really feeling, you can implement strategies to combat your internal naysayers.

After conducting a mini-life diagnostic, you’ll have a clearer vantage point to see where you went off-track with your goals and reposition yourself for success

The power of mini-goals

When we set year-long goals, it can be a challenge to maintain the energy and momentum we had back in January. 

That’s why it’s so helpful to set mini goals that have 6-month, 3-month, or even just monthly, weekly, or daily targets. Short-term goals capture our attention, and they're easier to manage during an uncertain and challenging year. 

Another great thing about mini goals? You gain easy wins. If you want to see this example in action, you can just watch any tennis match. 

Tennis is a wonderful sport to help pump yourself up about goal setting. When you watch incredible players like Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka playing their heart out, it’s hard not to feel inspired to reach your own goals. 

And a tennis match can show you the power of micro goals in action. 

In tennis, it’s all about being in the present moment. A tennis player can’t distract themselves during a game, worrying about previous losses or future matches. They can’t pressure themselves and think “I need to get this point or I won’t win the US Open.”  

In order to perform well, a tennis player has to focus on the present point and the ball they are going to hit right now.

And even if a player is losing a match, there’s always a chance to turn it around.

If you’ve fallen behind on your goals, just remind yourself that you can always turn it around, starting right now.

And instead of pressuring ourselves with the equivalent of “I need to win the U.S. Open,” we can create mini goals that will give us easy wins and allow us to focus on the present. These small victories give us a big mental boost and the momentum we need to push on.

Here are ways you can create short term goals: 

Instead of  “I want to write a screenplay by the end of the year.”

Set a short-term goal of “I want to finish a draft of a screenplay in 6 months.” 

Instead of “I want to run a marathon by the end of the year.”

Set a short term goal of “I want to run a 5k in 3 months.” 

Instead of “I want to pivot my career by the end of the year.” 

Set a short term goal of “I will reach out to 10 people for career advice by the end of the month.” 

Instead of “I want to learn a new language by the end of the year.”

Set a short term goal of “I will do 5 minutes of Duolingo daily.” 

Of course, tennis players have long-term goals in mind and train accordingly. But in their matches and in their day-to-day training, they focus on the short term goals, which will then allow them to succeed in the long-run. 

What are the short-term goals you can focus on, starting right now? 

Strategies for re-aligning with your goals 

Lower the intensity. We tend to be all-or-nothing when it comes to our goals. For example, you set a goal to run for an hour every day. But on days you feel tired, you cancel the run. Instead of cancelling altogether, try to lower the intensity. Can’t run for one hour? Run for five minutes or walk around your block instead. The key thing is to stay in motion and keep making progress, even if you have to lower the intensity sometimes to avoid stopping.

Have a backup plan. Similar to finding a middle ground with your goals, have a back up plan to ensure that you commit to your goal, no matter what challenges arise. 

Challenge: You want to go for a run but it’s raining outside. 

Backup plan: Download a few cardio workout videos on your phone that you can pull up (rather than having to find one in the moment) and do inside.

Challenge: You want to write in the morning but wake up feeling tired. 

Backup plan: Set a kitchen timer and brainstorm or journal for just 10 minutes.

Challenge: You want to meditate for 15 minutes but there’s a work meeting scheduled at the same time.

Backup plan: Do one minute of breathing exercises before your meeting. 

These little tweaks can help you stay dedicated to your goals, so that even when life throws a wrench in your plans, you’ll have a solid plan to fall back on.