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Setting Goals for the New Year 

Thursday December 16th, 2021

Setting goals for the new year


As we wrap up 2021, you may be thinking about the changes you would like to make in the New Year. But according to numerous studies, 80 percent of the people who make resolutions, drop them by February. Instead of making a resolution (a decision to do something), consider setting a goal (something that you want to achieve). Once you identify your goal(s), here are three tips to help you be successful.  


Write it down. Research has shown that writing your goals down can actually help you achieve them. Whether you make a list, use a journal or choose a more visual representation like a vision board, use a method that is right for you. Being able to see your goals helps to reinforce them. It also allows you to review them regularly and adjust as needed.  

Plan your goals. New Year’s resolutions are often lofty or nebulous aspirations: lose weight, quit smoking, save money. They all sound great but how are you going to accomplish them? Start by breaking your large goals into small ones. There are numerous goal-setting techniques that can help you do this. Here are two that are pretty popular: 


SMART goals.Originally used in business, SMART goals give you 5 criteria for setting your goals. You may see different words used in the acronym but they are most commonly identified as Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timebound. The Lifehack website provides a number of resources on “goal getting” including a written and a video introduction to SMART Goals.  

WOOP goals. The acronym WOOP stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan. Originally conceived by psychologist, Gabriele Oettingen, WOOP is “a science-based mental strategy that people can use to find and fulfill their wishes, set preferences, and change their habits.” Based on 20 years of scientific research, WOOP combines a visualization tool (mental contrasting) with a goal attainment process (implementation intentions). To learn more about this technique, visit the WOOP My Life website or check out this introductory video. You can get more detailed explanation of this technique in Oettingen’s book, Rethinking positive thinking: inside the new science of motivation


Reward yourself. As the year progresses, you may find it difficult to stick with your goals. One way to help you stay motivated is to build in rewards for meeting goals. The rewards can be small or large but you should avoid choosing a reward that is counterproductive to your goal. For example, if your goal is to save money, a shopping spree would not be a good reward. If you need some examples to get you started, type “ways to reward yourself” into Google and you will find a number of suggestions.  

I hope that these tips will help you with whatever you hope to accomplish in the new year. Best of luck! 

Lynette is Information Services Assistant at The Library

The above piece represents the views of the author and is meant to inspire dialogue and increase understanding and a sense of community. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of The Library. Members are welcome to comment below or contact us privately by using our online contact form >