New Year Resolutions and goal setting.

In a previous post New Year Resolutions and LImbic Lag in this series on New Year Resolutions, we discussed the physiological reason of limbic lag.  Change will not happen overnight even from the physiological viewpoint, since through the limbic lag, there is a delay in our bodies catching up with our mind.  A change of habit needs 21 days of consistent change before the body finally acknowledges the changes. We need patience and perseverance. Psychological/emotional well-being can bring forth positive or negative physical reactions in our bodies, and therefore there is a strong link between mental and physical health. Why not read the post to understand more about it.

 Now, in this post let us consider what happens at an intellectual level when we set goals.   Often goals are not reached for a number of reasons including lack of perseverance or commitment.  However, many people set themselves up for failure because the structure of the goal setting is incorrect in the first place.


1.Structure of the goal itself.

2. Planning.

3. Quantity of Resolutions.

4. Type of Resolution.

When setting goals, the goal must be achievable with a specific how to  and a time factor.  When one or 2 of these factors are missing, it is not a goal but rather a hope or desire.

Let us look at some examples of goals incorrectly set and doomed for failure because they are all too general.

 1.      I want to lose weight.

2.      I want to study more effectively.

3.      I want to learn to play a piece of music.

4.      I want to get rid of the clutter in my home

 All of these goals are laudable ideals and can be achieved. However they do not state how it is going to be achieved or what time span is required for the goal to be achieved.

 Let us reset the goals:

1.      I am 5 kilos lighter in 2 months. by healthy eating, drinking 8 glasses of water per day, having sufficient sleep (8 hours) and by doing exercise ( days a week for 30 minutes each session.

2.      My study is more effective when I prioritise my reading, make succinct reading notes and allow 3 weeks for essay writing.

3.      I am practising each day for 20 minutes to learn a new piece of music. I focus on learning a skill in each session. (e.g. day 1: learn the right hand of the piece of music, day 2: learn the left hand of the piece of music.

4.     I am removing the clutter in my home by systematically cleaning out one room per week, putting in boxes what I do not need and then taking them to charity or putting them in the bin.

 Notice with each of these reset goals they are specific in the how to and the time factor. Why is this important? We need to specify the time factor for our brain to make it a reality. It does not understand time like we do, but it needs a time factor trigger to make it a reality- otherwise it cannot process it. The second important factor is that we need to frame the goal in the present (write it in the present tense) to make it a reality along with the how and time factor. It becomes more real when framed in the present.

We also need to be specific about a time factor as it gives the opportunity of motivation to reach the goal. Without that, it is in the ‘‘never never’’ category. We need to be able to visualise the goal achieved before we even start it.


The second big trap is that many people either do not plan, or perhaps do not know how to plan.  My course on planning and time management gives you the scoop on how to plan effectively. The essential aspect of planning is to make it manageable and realistic.

For example, if a person wanted to lose 30 kilos in 2 months, it might be achievable but is it a realistic goal- probably not. Losing 1 kilo a week is realistic for most people.

3.Quantity of Resolution.

The third trap when setting up New Year resolutions is that people often set too many resolutions.  They start out with hope in their hearts but by the time the week is out, they have given up. Even if the goals were set correctly, too many resolutions can lead to no resolutions. More Resolutions can be achieved by planning carefully taking into consideration your limbic lag. For Example: You might decide to complete 6 Resolutions- one every 2 months. You have allowed for 21 days at least of the 60 to be your limbic lag and you have 39 days to consolidate the change.

(b) No change is possible if no resolutions are set in the first place Many people do not like to review their lives or do so rather superficially. Real change in our lives starts with a need and an awareness. Ask yourself what would you like to change about your life? Make a list of what would you like to change in your life under physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, intellectual, social. You may wish to choose your own headings.
Making a choice to choose at least one area is a good start as it shows that we are aware of the need to change. Many people fear change in themselves and others. However, if we recognise the need of change, then change is worthwhile to our physical, emotional and spiritual well being.

4.Type of Resolution.

Choosing the right type of resolution to set ourselves up for success is vital. What do I mean by this?

If our capacity in the past to follow through with New Year Resolutions has been limited or perhaps even 0%, or we have set New Year Resolutions that were in some way unrealistic, then we need to take this into account as we start afresh this year. Dream big and embrace courage, patience, gratitude and consistency.

However, experience success by setting goals appropriately (as discussed above) and choose something worthwhile and achievable. For example: if a person is married and almost at the point of divorce, then the goal of resolving the conflict may be too great and professional help required.

However, he/she may wish to consider learning how to improve their communication skills and/conflict management skills. Always start with something achievable, rather than take on the huge problems of life without having the necessary tools to succeed. Infact start with something that is achievable. but in the big scheme of life is not really important - a tiny niggle if you like within yourself.

I like to be tidy generally but from time to time things get on top of me and then the clutter starts. Once I hear myself say ‘‘I will do that tomorrow’’ I know i need to address it. When I flop into bed, hanging up the clothes seems one more thing to do. Then it can be another set of clothes and so on.
So, the easiest and manageable solution is to hang up the clothes in the first place. Start with something achievable as success in one area flows on to another and confidence builds as well. Apart from that, our physical, emotional and spiritual well being is rewarded as well.


 So, when you are making your New Year Resolutions this year ask yourself these questions:

 1.      Am I sincere in wanting to achieve these goals I have set?

2.      How committed am I in wanting to achieve these goals?

3.      Does the structure of my goal include goal- process ( how to) and time factor.)
Is it written in the present tense?

4.      Are my goal realistic?

5.      Am I able to commit to these goals for at least 21 days in order for my limbic lag to catch up?


Having New Year resolutions are worthwhile because it gives:

  • ·opportunity to review our lives at the physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, financial, educational levels.  

  • ·  insight into what is working well and what needs to change.

  • ·  hope that things can change. Hope then can provide motivation and desire to achieve. 

    New Year resolutions will remain just that unless we set ourselves up for success by correctly setting our goals.

 Why not set one or 2 resolutions for your life.  Work on them each day for 365 days inching forward each day with some step towards the goal. If every person in the world, set one resolution for the year, worked on it sincerely and achieved it, imagine how much better the world could be. Start it with yourself first and then ask others to join you- family members, work colleagues, friends, parishioners and anyone you meet. We can all do with changing at least one aspect to ourselves. One resolution of ( name your goal)  for 365 days in order to be a better person.

 Will you be a better person by this time next year?

How many other people will you have encouraged to better people by this time next year? 

 You can check out my pin on this post here.

Feel free to share the link with friends, family, colleagues and on social media too. Let’s spread the word about it and let’s love life and learn music.