Happy New Year, and welcome to the 20’s!

Of course, the new year—and decade—isn’t just about celebrating with family and friends. It’s also about creating a fresh start by setting new resolutions for ourselves. 

But let’s face it: most New Year’s resolutions fail. A majority of people will set the same goals year after year. For instance: good grades, doing well on a standardized test (be it the GRE, LSAT, or SAT), going to the gym more… the list goes on. 

If this sounds like you, don’t worry! There are ways to actually accomplish the goals you set out to achieve.

If you want to achieve your New Year’s resolutions here are six tips that are sure to help you live your best life in 2020.

Six Tips for Goal Achievement 

Start now. This one is deceptively obvious, but perhaps the most crucial. Procrastination and self-discipline are the two biggest factors in maintaining long term goals. Most people will wait for next week, the first of the month, the next day—don’t! Capitalize on the momentum you have and start planning the pathway to your goals now.

When goal-setting, write it down by hand. Try to visualize what it is that you want. What does success look like in the future when you’ve achieved this goal? Is it to feel more confident in your own skin and abilities? Maybe it looks like acquiring a new skill? The key to this step is to brainstorm what it is that you want out of your goals. Additionally, research demonstrates that writing things down helps commit it to memory. This is important when goal-setting. 

Turn your goals into SMART Goals. If you haven’t heard of SMART goals, here is a quick synopsis that can help you out. In short, SMART goals are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Look at your brainstorming from tip 2, and try to compile it into a SMART goal. For example, I want to live more sustainably and ethically in 2020 by living waste-free. It’s pretty daunting! But if I say that I will go waste-free in my kitchen (specific/realistic) by cutting out all paper and food waste (measurable), and that this goal will be achieved in 3 months (timely), the general goal of sustainability becomes more achievable. The bottom line is that SMART goals will create accountability and a pathway to achieving your overarching goals.

Build habits and make time for them. Most resolutions are long-term lifestyle changes. Resolutions such as getting 4.0 in school, losing weight, and spending more time with friends are not one time accomplishments. Rather, these goals require a shift in day to day activities. Therefore, the focus with these goals isn’t only on the end goal, but on building the habits that contribute to that goal. The easiest way to build habits is to allocate time specifically for that activity. Block out the time to achieve these goals throughout your week, and stick to it. By planning these goals into your schedule, it’s easier to build habits that contribute to success!

Track your progress. You’ll be glad you did! When pursuing long term goals, it can be difficult to stay motivated. But if you keep track of your progress using photos, an app, or other means, it will help you see how far you’ve come and celebrate the smaller wins. Lifewire.com has a useful list of apps that track progress. Big changes are a bunch of little changes that culminate into a large impact. When tracking progress, we’re reminding ourselves that small goals should be celebrated as well. 

Always embrace failure, and critique your resolutions. I am positive that at some point in achieving a goal, everyone has faced failure. Especially at the beginning, failure can be a negative experience that deters you from trying again. As a perfectionist myself, I’m particularly prone to over-catastrophizing failure and giving up. (Side note: If you’re a perfectionist, we have a great post about perfectionism here.) But failure isn’t inherently bad; it’s a moment to re-evaluate and adjust your strategy for success. By not giving up, and embracing failure, you’ll be better off the next time you try! 

So there it is—a recipe for success in the coming year! Reader, I hope that you achieve your goals and thrive in the new decade. Be sure to share your story with us at Strategy Girl. Happy New Year, and good luck!