How to Set Goals that’ll Stick for 2018

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It’s true that many New Year resolutions do not last long.

You say you’ll cut out chocolate, stop smoking, or lose weight only to find yourself failing or giving up right away.


Because you’re setting negative goals.

This article will teach you why negative goals never seem to stick, and how to set goals that will stick.


Dominant Thoughts


First let’s discuss dominant thought theory.

A dominant thought is part of a phrase or thought that sticks in your brain subconsciously. As humans, we tend to remember and pay more attention to negative words. (That’s why a lot of news programs are gloom and doom).

Therefore, your brain will have the natural tendency to remember the negative part of the goal you’ve set for yourself.

For example, stop eating junk food turns into “eat junk food” and then we want it more!

Ever find that telling a child “Don’t touch that!” or “Don’t run across the road!” doesn’t seem to work?
That’s because the dominant message is “touch that” or “run across the road”.

How do we combat negative goal setting?

It’s easy to think about what we don’t want, but it might take some effort to retrain your brain for this next part: turning a negative goal into its positive opposite.

If there’s something you want to stop doing; ex: “stop eating junk food,”
Think about what the positive opposite would be.
A helpful hint is, what would you be doing if you reached your goal?

Positive opposite example: “eat more healthy foods.”
This way, “healthy foods” is the dominant message instead of “eating junk food”.

Don’t worry, I’ll give some more examples!

Positive Phrases or Affirmations

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Change your thoughts, change your brain.

A positive phrase is something you’ll be repeating to yourself to stay on track towards reaching your goal.

Use your positive opposite to come up with a positive phrase to repeat to yourself multiple times every day.

Research shows you can rewire your brain through positive messaging and repeated thoughts. By repeating positive phrases numerous times a day, the phrase will start to change what you believe at a subconscious level. You and your body will automatically start working towards achieving these goals subconsciously.

Here are some examples:

Goal: Stop smoking
Dominant thought: Smoking
Positive opposite: breathe clean air
New Dominant phrase: “I breathe clean air”

Goal: Stop cursing so much
Dominant thought: Cursing so much
Positive Opposite: speak clean words
New Dominant Phrase: “I speak clean words”

S.M.A.R.T goals

Now that you know how to write a positive goal, it is important that your goal is measurable and realistic.

Not using a SMART goal format is often a reason why positive goals fail such as exercise more, get a new job, save money, etc. These are good missions, but often no thought is put into how to achieve these goals. (Let alone what constitutes achievement of these goals).

SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

So “eating healthy foods” may not be specific, but a specific positive phrase such as “I will only eat foods that benefit my body daily,” may help you stay on track. (Also, moderation may be appropriate for some goals… enjoy a piece of cake every now and then!) It’s important to consider who (is involved), what (do you want to accomplish), why (reasons for goal), when (time frame), and which (requirements and restraints).

How will you be able to keep track of the goal you have set for yourself? Will your goal be daily, weekends only, multiple times a day? Ask yourself “How much?”, “How many?” How will you know you have made progress toward your goal? When will you know you have reached your goal?

Positive phrases that are most important to you, that speak to your core values or desires and changes the way you think and behave. You’ll begin looking for opportunities you’ve missed in the past. Establish steps you can take to reach your goal such as only buying nutritious foods.

Is your goal realistic? You may want to make a million dollars (and the book, Think & Grow Rich says you can think your way to riches!), but is it realistic given your circumstances? Is it realistic to cut out all junk food for the rest of your life? Be honest with yourself and allow room for moderation or error.

If you give yourself a realistic time restraint, your subconscious will work to meet that goal versus having no end in sight.
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Write out your goal on paper meeting all of the SMART goal formula. Repeat your Positive Phrases multiple times every day. Remember, errors and setbacks can be expected. Allow for moderation, be kind to yourself, and ask a friend for encouragement.

If you enjoyed this article or have a New Year goal in mind, please leave a comment below and share.