Sign up to receive all the latest, direct to your inbox. It's what the cool kids do, promise.




Why goal setting usually fails (and how to fix it, obvs).

Posted on 0

‘New Year, New Me’ can get in the bin.

Ain’t January grand?!  A brand spanking new year with a super shiny, clean slate and all those things you effed up last year?  Gone! Just. Like. That!  In the blink of an eye we all get a reset on, well, life – and for that glimmering little space of time, we can actually all believe that This Will Be Our Year.

(Helps that in Australia, it is peak Summer so we’re all happy shiny people, with a tan and a belief that anything is possible, helped along by copious amounts of rosé and daylight savings that mean that the sunshine ne’er ends.  #woot).

Fast forward a few months – and here we stand.  The brand shiny new year is 1/4 done (sweet Jesus, we’re gonna be eating fruit mince pies and rocking around the Christmas tree again before we have time to even BLINK), and you can pretty much bet that we can all barely spell ‘goals’ RN, much less cohesively remember what you were banging on about just a few short months ago.

Goals are hard, you guise.  They require dedication and motivation – and annoyingly – a little bit of planning to actually become Real Life Things.  So if you’re finding yourself here, wondering where the hell the wheels fell off the wagon, here’s a few little insights into where that goal setting is going a bit sideways, that might help you reset and power on.  (Fun fact: nobody is an overnight success, which is probably the most disappointing part about being an adult.)

One | They’re too big and kinda vague.

A few years ago, I decided to write a novel.  (Oh stop laughing.  It could have been a thing, and I could be an international bestselling author very right now and then y’all would be very supportive of my dreams + the corresponding book sales cash.)

I actually had a really half decent idea.  I sat down, bashed out half a chapter and then it sat mockingly on my desktop for the next 18 months while I procrastinated with everything besides said novel writing before finally banishing it to my Google Drive so at least I didn’t have a daily reminder of my defeat.

In short?  I had a big goal (write a book), with no actual idea of how to get there.  I mean, half a chapter in I realised that I had no idea how to get from here to my half concocted ‘ending’ – and somehow it didn’t occur to me to, you know, maybe just sketch out a rough narrative?

Lesson learned. Break. That. Shit. Down.

A goal without an actual real roadmap on how the feck you’re gonna get there has got about as much chance in hell of coming to fruition as a snowball’s chance on Rod Laver Arena during the Aus Open.  Goals should be big and scary and even a little impossible – but you need short, simple, achievable steps along the way.

If you’ve got a big goal for 2019, amazing.  But you can’t just set it.  Break it.  Turn it into 12 smaller chunks (or, ahem, 9 smaller chunks now #nopressure), and assign one to each month.  You can even go one step further and break these chunks into 4 mini chunks – building out just one small piece you need to complete each week.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they probably laid a brick or two before lunchtime.

Two | You’re all or nothing.

Lemme know if this sounds at all familiar, yeah?

You get home from work.  By the time you’ve walked the dog, made ordered dinner (who are we kidding, it’s 2019, let’s just stop pretending we all wouldn’t be eating stale crackers with the dregs of the hummus tub if it wasn’t for Uber Eats), scrolled instagram aimlessly half a dozen times, and tackled a few life admin chores (seriously, how do I have so much washing, I am one person?) – there’s about 27 minutes of actual evening time left to get stuck into the aforementioned goals.  And that’s absolutely not enough, right??  These are your goals!  You’ll need time to devote to doing them properly!  Better wait until the weekend when you can goal properly – you know, with a few hours of dedicated goal-y time, give those goals the consideration they deserve.  Right?


Hate to be that person, but it’s not the big, indulgent, dedicated blocks of time that are gonna make 2019 your best yet #blessed.  Before you throw away those seemingly insignificant 27 minutes to a Sex and the City rerun, you should probably consider that they’ll actually, over time, make the biggest difference.  Little bits here and there, when you can, add up to a Big Bit.  In fact, motivation experts recommend this approach.  (Been reading some self help books over the summer, yo.)  Not only will you be tackling the mountain, one stone at a time, but the short, daily, stints will keep your energy levels high and keep your precious goal front of mind, so it actually begins to become a priority.

Consistency.  Repeat it again.  It’s apparently the ‘secret to success’ (I personally subscribe to ‘marry well’, but you may have better morals than me).  Chip away a little bit, every day, without fail.

Plus we all know that the fabled endless hours of dedicated goal work you’re planning for the weekend will get ditched the second someone utters the words ‘Aperol Spritz this afternoon?’ because Daylight Savings hasn’t quite ended juuuust yet and you need to squeeze in one last hurrah…

Three |  Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Here’s the real honest truth.  You’ll prioritise what’s important to you.  (Which is why I binge watched the whole season of The Bodyguard in less than a weekend, not even sorry.)  If you’re here – 25% of New Year down, 0% of New Goal down – and you find that you actually haven’t been making time for it – then it’s probably something you think you should be doing, rather than something that really sets your soul alight.

There’s no failure in admitting – meh, this ain’t for me.  Goals should be hard, but they should be motivating, not a drainer.  Sometimes you’ll need a break, but you should feel yourself naturally gravitating back, or every once in awhile thinking of new concepts, ideas or strategies.  Putting a little bit of grunt it to get to the finish line should be strangely energising – not something that you avoid like the time in year 11 your teacher assigned an essay on the history of ants.

I once abandoned a goal that, just a few months earlier, I had passionately declared I was ‘going to achieve this year, bitches!‘, when I realised that I was compulsively cleaning my house to put off doing any work on the goal.  That’s right.  Let that sink in.  Cleaning. My. House.  

Probs not the right life path for me.

And that advice even applies for the whole damn concept of goal setting.  Just because every other blogger in the known digi-universe is writing shiny, glossy pieces about how they are smashing their #auhmazing goals for the year (#NewYearNewMe) and it’s ONLY MARCH, doesn’t automatically mean that you have to.  If you’ve had a big year, if you’re happy blowing in the wind until you find your passion (and make it happen), if you’d like a little more of a lo-fi year because you’ve got a great big stack of beach reads you’d like to smash through – do it.

Sometimes the very best goal is no goal at all.  (At least this is what I used to tell myself after every game of basketball when I contributed little more than a few laps of the court…)

Put it out there, into the universe!  What goals did you set for 2019?  How are they going?  Don’t worry, I’m an under-achiever too! (Totes still time to get them back on track, party cats.)

Share this article

No Comments Yet.

Your thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.