New Year’s Resolutions: How to set Goals and stick to them

Let’s get those confessions out of the way

It’s that time of year again. The time to reflect on the year that has just gone past and identify things you want to work on in the next year.

For many people this tends to be a new year’s confession rather than a resolution.

Something along the lines of:

“Oh man I’ve spent way too much money this year. My new year’s resolution is to save more money!”

“I have definitely put on a few kg’s and been really lazy. My new year’s resolution is to exercise and lose weight”.

I personally don’t love these types of resolutions. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with seeing what you did “wrong” and fixing it. However, I’m not a huge fan of categorising behaviour as “bad” or “good”.

I personally prefer the “life has been great this year and I am hoping to make the next year even better!” angle.

This is the growth approach to goal planning and I will talk more about it in a future post. For the moment let’s just stick to our resolutions.

Resolutions and Goals

In my humble opinion, the New Year’s Resolution is just a half assed goal planning session in disguise. I used to make resolutions each year but never stick to them past February the next year.

It’s easy to decide to do something on a whim but it’s much harder to stick to it long term.

At the end of the day, even though I failed, having a New Year’s Resolution isn’t a bad tradition. At least it gets people to think about their goals. I used to just drift through life so any goal thinking behaviour was better than nothing right?

Goals are important (I know! Who would have guessed?!) 

In my opinion, one of the biggest advantages to having a goal is that it continually pulls you forward.

No matter how crappy of a day you are having. If you have the right goals you will carry on. If you have big dreams and goals you will not let setbacks discourage you. You will continue grinding.

Goals are the burning flames that keep you going despite the turbulence in your life.

People who have given up on life are usually the ones whose goals have been taken from them. You can take everything from a man (or woman) but their dreams. 

3 Simple Steps to Goal Setting

And I promise you they are very simple (although not always easy):

  1. Write down your goals
  2. Review your goals
  3. Work on your goals


Writing down your goal 

Okay so this is fairly obvious right? If you want to achieve something, write it down. I think the more important thing to discuss here is what exactly to write down:

We want:

  • Identity Based Goals
  • Objective Based Goals and
  • Action Based Goals

We have talked about setting the right goal before. In that post I encouraged your fitness goals to include your family. The simple reason being is that if your goal is “to look great naked”, there is no real compelling force to make you stick to your goal. I mean, if push comes to shove I do hope that you would choose your family first over your fitness goal. But this does not mean that you should be partying with your family and friends every weekend and eating all the cake!

Instead of specifically “losing weight/looking good naked” your goal might change to something like “I want to show my family that I can be disciplined and can exert self-control. I want them to be able to rely on me and know that I am a man of my word” or “I want to show my family that I am mature enough to delay gratification and am able to shift my focus from my rights to my responsibilities or rather shift my focus from what I like to do to what I am supposed to do”.

The above is an example of an Identity based goal.

The basic premise is that your behaviour is driven by your identity.

Rather than trying to change your behaviour, work on changing your identity. The appropriate behaviour will follow.

However, in order for you to stick to your goals you will need the two other type of goals mentioned above.

The Objective Based Goal is your run off the mill “SMART” goal that I’m sure you have heard so much about. It is what SPECIFICALLY you want to accomplish and by when.

The Action Based Goal is what SPECIFICALLY you will do to accomplish your goals.

The 3-way match: A holistic look at Goal Setting

An example of a 3-way matched Goal would be:

Identity Based Goal: 

I want to show my family that I am mature enough to delay gratification and am able to shift my focus from my rights to my responsibilities or rather shift my focus from what I like to do to what I am supposed to do

Objective Based Goal:

I want to lose 10kg by 31 December 2017.

Action Based Goal:

I am going to exercise 3 times a week as a minimum and eat 2000 calories per day (subject to change based on progress).

Another example in relation to writing would be:

Identity Based Goal: 

I want to become a subject matter expert in my industry. I want to become the key person of influence in my chosen field

Objective Based Goal:

I will read 24 books on my field and publish my own book by December 2017

Action Based Goal:

I will wake up at 6am every day to read for an hour. I will also write a minimum of 500 words for my book each day until completion

There you have it.

Make sure each goal that you write down follows this 3-pronged attack!

Review your goals

Your goals need to excite you.

They must inspire you.

If your one goal is to pay the electricity bill on time I’m not sure how inspired or motivated you are going to be. Is this really going to get you out of bed in the morning?

Goals need to be something that you can achieve but they also need to scare you.. just a little bit.

Sometimes you don’t know what you are truly capable of until you put your nose onto the grindstone. This is why I like having goals which are a bit of a stretch.

Your goal needs to be somewhere in the middle:

If it’s too easy you will lose interest. If it’s too hard you will not achieve it and give up!

Work on your goals

This one is fairly self explanatory.. I think.

Make sure you work on your goals.

Do not wait.

Do not wait until tomorrow to start. Do not wait until next week to start.

Do not wait until the New Year.

Just start now.

Like right now.

Stop reading.

Just start already!


I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on goal setting. There is a lot to be said on this topic but I just wanted to give you some quick actionable points so that you can get back to your New Year’s Celebrations!

I sincerely hope that this assists you in not only setting but also achieving all of your 2017 goals!

As always if you have any questions or have other topics you wish me to cover make sure to let me know in the comments!


Toni is management consultant by day and an amateur powerlifter also by day.. he sleeps at night. He loves to strive for personal development and he achieves this through training, reading and maybe even writing.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Catherine - December 31, 2016

Love the idea of setting goals of different types; I can see how they’d all add up to the same big goal through taking little steps each day. Great article, Toni!

    Toni - December 31, 2016

    Thank you for the kind words Catherine, wishing you all the best for 2017!

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