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New Year Goals - 11 Reasons Why You’ve Probably Already Failed

The ultimate guide on How to Achieve your Goals in 2023

The Psychology of achieving your goals

As the new year begins, many of us set optimistic new year goals and resolutions with the intent of making positive and often dramatic changes in our lives. We’re encouraged to visualise our dreams, we engage in goal setting exercises and repeat daily affirmations.

But the sad reality is, the stats are not on your side and you’ve probably already failed. Only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s Resolutions and 2/3 have already given up on their goals by the the end of January.

So the question is, why is there still such a big gap between our intentions and actions? How can we start off so ambitious and motivated and go straight back to square one?

This is a short guide on the science and psychology of how to achieve your goals in 2023. If you’ve started and already failed, it’s not too late. This time you’ll have psychology on your side.

1. Do you want the Lifestyle?

You want to change but do you really want to change? Too many people set goals without thinking through the costs that are actually required to achieve them.

  • You want to lose weight, but do you actually want to change your diet and up your exercise regime?

  • You want to be a professional athlete but do you really want the early mornings and regimented lifestyle?

  • You want to start up a business but do you really want the insecurity and isolation?

The real challenge is determining the costs you’re willing to pay rather than the rewards you want to gain. Everyone wants the outcome but not many want the reality.

2. Process vs Outcome

The main purpose of having a goal is it tells you what process you need to put in place to achieve it. Goals set the direction and the process is the route that gets you there. Goals tell you what you say yes and no to. Sticking to the process determines your rate of progress and chance of attainment.

I’ve worked with hundreds of ambitious athletes who make the mistake of focussing too much on the outcome and not enough on the processes required to achieve it. You don’t climb a mountain by just looking at the top of it. You need a big goal but you need to back it up with big action.

3. The Gap’s too big

When it comes to goal setting and behaviour change, most people state the exact opposite of what they’re currently doing or where they’re currently at.

  • I want to have a 6 pack (but they don’t exercise at all & eat junk food daily)

  • I want to have complete emotional control (but they’re impulsive & reactive)

  • I want to be a millionaire (but they haven’t got a side hustle & have bad spending habits)

This doesn’t work. It’s so unbelievable as the gap between where they are and where they want to be is so big. This becomes overwhelming and demotivating as it’s so far out of reach. Overwhelm creates underwhelming action.

How to set goals - psychology
Image: @philosphypath - twitter

I’m not about to throw the SMART goal setting acronym at you and this isn’t an excuse to put a limit on yourself, but it has to be realistic so it at least feels attainable.

  • I want to have a 6 pack —> I want to be fit & healthy

  • I want to have complete emotional control —> I want to respond in a calmer and more rational manner

  • I want to be a millionaire - I want to start improving my finances

If you’ll excuse the mountain metaphor again, looking right to the top can be overwhelming. But identifying checkpoints along the way seems a lot more achievable. It’s good to have a big picture but break your goal down so it feels within reach.