Setting Goals For The New Year: How To Stick To Self (& Family!) Improvement Promises

It’s a universal ritual: on New Year’s Day each year, people vow to reform their lifestyles, usually by dieting and exercising more and eating and drinking less. Many parents promise to spend more time with their children and less time at the office, or more time volunteering in the community.   

Does that ring any bells?

If you’ve tried and failed before to set goals for life improvement come New Year’s Day, you are not alone. Studies show that roughly 70 percent of all adults make a promise to eliminate a bad habit or try something new (like joining a gym or taking up a new hobby) at the start of a new calendar year, but that more than 60 percent fail to stick to the goal for very long.

The number one reason for that failure rate is that people promise themselves too much. Instead of tackling just one commitment, they set three or four and don’t accomplish them in any kind of enduring way. That leads to anger and disappointment that real change has eluded them for yet another year.

However, we are beginning a new regiment the moment we literally turn the page and embark on a brand new year. Aiming to become a brand new you at the same time makes sense. This year, why not set new goals and devise a strategy for success? Furthermore, why not get the whole family and your nanny involved, too? Working on change is always easier when there is a team of supporters cheering you on, individuals who are perhaps tackling goals of their own.

In the post, we offer some strategies for undertaking goals successfully in 2022. These tips just might help you stick to your plans, and who knows? By spring you and the family may have accomplished lasting and meaningful change. Good luck!

1. Aim high, but not too high, and make your goals specific. 

Asking too much of yourself and the family all at once can set you up for failure. Instead, choose one goal that truly matters to you. Let’s use the example of spending more time with the family. Instead of being vague, like promising yourself (and your children) that you will be home more, commit to having dinner with them at the table three nights a week. A goal like this is achievable and measurable immediately – you know within one month if you are succeeding.

2. Involve everyone even if it’s a goal toward self-improvement.

Let’s say you want to eat less red meat in the new year. Rather than keeping your goal private, get the family to join in by agreeing to have fish or chicken at mealtime several days a week. Assuming grocery shopping is one of the nanny’s duties, ask them to purchase less meat when stocking up on each week’s food supplies. If your nanny is responsible for meals during the week, ask them to come up with a few vegetarian recipes. Approaching your goal this way accomplishes quite a lot: you ask for support, get the family and nanny to join in the goal with you, and everyone starts eating in a healthier way. It’s a win-win-win!

3. Write the goals down and put them somewhere visible.

Whether you post your goal on the fridge or in another shared space, seeing it every day helps fuel your commitment. Others will be more inclined to check in on your progress if they are reminded of what you’re trying to accomplish.

4. Make the goal measurable.

Let’s say, for example, you vow to get the family’s finances in better shape in the new year. Instead of asking each person just to “spend less” on things like takeout food and barista coffees, open a savings account and put a certain amount in each month. That is an achievement that’s easy to measure, and at the end of next year you’ll have a tidy sum you can contribute to the family holiday, for example, or another activity.

5. Keep goals tied to a certain timeframe.

Let’s use the example again of getting your family finances into tip top shape and saving a little extra money. You’ll succeed more fully and consistently if you tie the effort to the calendar, perhaps by saying, “we’ll save XXX amount, twice each month for one year.” If your goal is achieved and you’re anxious to keep going, just restart the clock on New Year’s Day, 2023!

6. Announce your goal, but don’t constantly reiterate it. 

Telling others what you have committed to doing is important; however, don’t announce it repeatedly, and refrain from discussing every little bit of progress you make. Doing so can make others uncomfortable, and if you fall a little short of accomplishing your goal completely, you won’t feel embarrassed for having touted it too often.

7. Reward yourself for incremental progress.

If you promised to help your child with their homework twice a week and instead helped them four times, celebrate! Changing habits and routines for the better takes work, and you deserve recognition when your efforts are successful. Do something that makes you feel good, like taking a hike with your child or going to the movies, so you can both enjoy the reward for a job well done. Conversely, if you get tied up one evening at the office and simply can’t make it home in time to help, don’t scold yourself too badly. If you’re putting in the effort and mostly succeeding, that’s real change for the better.

Human beings are creatures of habit, and changing and improving your life, and your family’s, isn’t easy or accomplished overnight. However, profound change will occur, providing you don’t give up, stay focused on the goals you’ve set, and enlisted the help and support from those closest to you.