Health and Medicine People and Community

How to keep those New Year’s goals

As 2023 approaches, University of Miami experts share tips on how to set and maintain goals through the new year.
New year graphic 2022 to 2023

It’s that time of year again. As the new year approaches, many set out to use that dawn of a new day to make changes in life through goal setting and New Year’s resolutions. While motivation during those first days might get you through January, here’s what two University of Miami experts suggest for setting and maintaining those goals beyond that point.

Start by clearly identifying your goals.

When thinking about what you want to tackle in the new year, sit down and clearly identify what those goals are, shared Anthony Musto, the Department of Wellness and Recreation’s interim executive director of fitness programs and chair of Healthy ’Cane Network. Once you have established clear goals, start looking ahead to the benefits of your new habit.

“It is helpful to identify the benefits that will occur as a result of achieving those goals. Ask yourself, ‘What are the positives of achieving this goal?’ Then, use those positives as the carrot to keep moving forward. Chase the benefits of meeting this goal, not the goal itself,” he pointed out. 

Make a plan to tackle it.

So, how do you get started? Make a plan, Musto suggested. Make a list of what needs to be done, or steps that need to be taken, to achieve the outcome of your goal. Then, focus on achieving that list of tasks instead of the goal itself.

“The individual has control over whether or not they achieve those tasks. When they do, there is a feeling of reward, which will motivate the person to continue. Accomplishing the task or behavior offers enough reward that if the outcome is not quite met, there is still motivation to keep going,” he said.

Musto also shared the significance of being intrinsically motivated to achieve a New Year’s resolution. If the goal is driven by somebody else, a person is less likely to want to achieve it.  

“Whatever the goal is, it has to be valued and ‘owned’ by the individual themselves,” he said. 

Find the joy in your goals.

Identify ways that these goals are emotionally and intellectually fulfilling, said Margaret Krigbaum, an executive and personal coach who teaches in the Division of Continuing and International Education.

“Think about what will be different in your life if you achieve the goal rather than thinking about just getting to the goal. Think about the pieces of yourself you want to express through achieving the goal,” she said. 

Focusing on the triumph of pursuing and completing that goal will help get you to the finish line, Krigbaum added.

Small steps lead to big results.

All progress is good progress, noted Musto. When tackling the steps to achieve a goal, he stressed focusing on the baby steps it takes to get there. 

“Unfortunately, we are plagued with the all or nothing mentality that was supposed to get us results yesterday. Consider what are the steps that must be taken to achieve the goal and what is the one simple thing I can start with today,” said Musto.

Perform the simple tasks attached to achieving your goal until it becomes a habit; then, add another simple thing, he suggested. Repeat that process as you progressively chip away at the goal, and it will help prevent feeling overwhelmed.

Make goals achievable.

“Finally, setting goals you believe are not achievable is a recipe for failure,” Krigbaum pointed out.  

When setting your goals, she advised selecting changes that will be a challenge, but not thwart general progress, or happiness.

 “Set the goal that is joyful to undertake that will stretch and challenge you, rather than defeat you. And that will have a great return on investment if you achieve it,” she said.