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No-Fail New Year’s Goals

The statistics show that 80% of people give up on their New Year’s resolutions by mid-February. Ambitions without a plan create a recipe for disappointment. I’m not saying we shouldn’t dream about the future. I’m saying we need a better method to accomplish our goals.

One of the problems with most of our plans is that they aren’t specific enough. We say things like, “I want to exercise more” or “I should eat healthier.” Those goals are so generic that we are setting ourselves up for failure.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals are great, but sometimes that framework can be a bit much. Instead, try using these 3 questions to help you create no-fail New Year’s goals:

1. WHAT exactly do you want to accomplish?

Instead of “exercise more,” try “I want to run for 30 minutes three times this week.” This kind of goal includes the type of exercise (running), duration (30 minutes), and deadline (this week). Unless a goal is measurable, you have no way of knowing if you’ve succeeded or not.

Don’t plan on eating healthier. Pick which foods you want to eat less of and limit your intake. Decide what foods you want more of in your diet and make a grocery list. Don’t just plan on reading the Bible more. Pick which book of the Bible and how many chapters you will read. The more specific you can be with your “what,” the better.

2. WHEN do you plan on doing it?

Important things go in your calendar. If something isn’t important enough to write down, it won’t get done promptly. Go ahead and block off a time to chip away at your goals.

If you have spiritual goals like growing in your faith, you should schedule a time to read the Bible, pray, and go to church. I usually read books or work on extra projects after 8 PM. Why? It’s after my kids go to bed. If I hadn’t scheduled it ahead of time, it would never have happened.

3. WHERE will you be?

One step further in setting yourself up for success is to visualize where you will be when you work on your goal. Humans exist in time and space. That means you will be working on your goal at a specific time in a specific place. It is one less thing to worry about when you decide ahead of time. I write most of my blog posts on my living room couch.

I follow a training plan when I’m training for a running race. It helps to pick which trail or track I’m running at before leaving my house. One day I went to the high school track where I usually run. It was jam-packed with marching band practice. So I drove to another track on the recommendation of a friend. That one was locked. Finally, I went to a third track that I had never been to before. It turns out the track was actually across the street from the high school. I spent an hour figuring out my “where” before I even started on my “what”!

WHAT, WHEN, and WHERE. Remember these three words. If you put your New Year’s goals through the filter of these three questions, you can create a successful plan.


What are your goals for the New Year? What helps you stick with them? Let me know in the comments below!

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