How to Get Shit Done in 2018

Every billboard, every blog, every Facebook feed is yelling about new year’s goals and resolutions this month, and what strikes me about these kinds of goals is that they’re easy to make, and hard AF to keep or to succeed at. As a chronic overachiever, unsolicited two-cents-giver and relentlessly optimistic dickhead, I had to write about it, because truly, I’ve been seeing some shocking planning around here.

Do you wanna know something bleak? Most of us are going to fail in keeping with the goals we’ve set for ourselves this January. I googled it, and supposedly 22% of us will fail after a week, 40% after a month, 50% after three months (that’s not bad though, hey?), and 60% after six months (Psychology Today, 2018). While I’m going to ignore the fact that those stats literally add up to 172 percent (is there a statistician who can help me on this one?), it’s fairly depressing to think about.

So how come we’re all so bad at this goal-setting thing? I’m sure you’ve heard of SMART goals – setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-oriented. You’ll find many variations on what SMART stands for, but this is what I got taught either in high school or by some kind of fitness professional over the many years I’ve dabbled in unrealistic ideas about achievement.

Photo by Nadine Shaabana

If you wanna go out there and do something, don’t half-ass it. I learned this when I quit drinking last year – you have to want it for yourself, know why you want it for yourself, and have a plan for how you’re going to get it. Admittedly, I only lasted five months, but that’s cause I forgot why I wanted sobriety for myself, and then it didn’t seem like such an important goal anymore. This failure comes down to a failure to plan, and that failure to plan comes down to half-assing.

Half-assing it is a waste of time. Half-assing it is for people who leave their teabags in the sink, which fills me inexplicably with rage, and makes very little sense. The COMPOST BIN IS RIGHT THERE. YOU’RE DOUBLING YOUR WORKLOAD forchristssake. Changing even the smallest of habits is not easy, but it sure as hell isn’t going to get easier if you aren’t SMART about it. So – let us figure out what exactly a SMART goal looks like. Remember – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-oriented.

I want to lose weight.” Very good. Me too. But – how much weight? Let’s make it Specific. “I want to lose 4kg.” Excellent – but when? Do you have a scale? What if you gain a bunch of muscle & gain weight even if you get smaller? How will you realistically Measure your goal? “I want to lose 4cm from my bust, waist and hips. I will do this by weighing myself, eating healthy and running.” OK, we’re getting better. Is this goal Achievable and Realistic though?

Photo by Jordan Whitfield

Do you have health concerns that stop you running – maybe your asthma sucks, or your depression is gonna get real bad again in winter and you’re not gonna be able to get out of bed for those morning runs. Maybe you’re gonna have your period and not wanna eat healthy anything but Whittaker’s fruit and nut for three days once a month. This is the point where you pull out your diary and your shopping list, and make some more thorough plans. What are you going to eat? When? Can you afford to eat this way? When are you going to run? Do you have the right gear for running? When are you going to take your measurements?

There’s a lot to plan, but there’s also that golden rule about it – failing to plan is planning to fail. Most of goal-setting and goal-achieving is just changing little baby habits. If you can’t write that down in your calendar to remind yourself, you’re not going to change that habit, and you’re going to be a part of that 22% that fail in the first week. Lastly, figure out that Time-orientation. Set little milestones – maybe reward yourself for each little quarter-way-there and half-way-there mark in your diary. Buy yourself a new fitbit, cook yourself your favourite meal, or plan a picnic or something with your bff.

By this stage, you should have something that resembles a decent goal, and a decent way to achieve that goal. I hope that this has been in some way helpful, and I wish you all the very best for a much better year than the last one. I’d love to hear what your goals are for this year – feel free to share ’em in the comments!

Psychology Today. (2018). Miscellaneous Facts About New Year’s Resolutions.. [online] Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/homo-consumericus/200912/miscellaneous-facts-about-new-year-s-resolutions [Accessed 10 Jan. 2018].

Hi! I'm Elese, a blogger/philosopher/dubious advice-giver/PhD student/MUA/designer lady based in Brisbane, Australia.
  • Not a statistician, but I think those percentages are cumulative – so 22% of the whole population will have failed after a week, an additional 18% (because we’re talking a binary situation here, where it’s a yes/no on failure, so total 40) after a month, a further 10% after three months adding up to 50% and so on. Granted, I haven’t read the source paper, but that’s what makes sense in my head!

    I’ve been using some of the stuff you mentioned and more recently have started using the Best Self journal. It’s pretty pricy but has really gotten me to think much more specifically and strategically about my goals, as it’s based on some of these tools like SMART goals, road maps/milestones, daily habits etc. There’s a free PDF on their site if you haven’t seen it!