Only 9% of people sustain their New Years Resolutions throughout the year or achieve their New Year goals. Thus, New Years Resolutions are ACTUALLY A BAD WAY TO SET GOALS. In this essay, I will…
In this five-part mini series I’m calling bullshit on the top New Years Resolutions and suggesting a better, more intentional method of planning for a 2023 that gets you closer to your best life and future vision.
First up, SMART Goals. They are bad. Why? Find out in this episode!
And don’t forget your workbook at bit.ly/fnyr.
Hello. Welcome to January the time of year when everyone wakes up first thing in the morning and becomes a completely different person capable of everything they’ve ever dreamed of, except that that’s not how human brains work. So in this little five part series, I’m going to be talking about New Year’s resolutions also. Hey, hi. If you’re new here, I am Caitlin Fisher. I am a creativity coach, uh, writing coach, et cetera. Coach, help people, uh, say off to the status quo of hustle, culture, productivity, culture and kind of capitalism at large. I like to mess with that a lot and really just go for the things that make you happy inside. That’s important to me. I want you to be happy inside, happy outside, or at least I was gonna say like not sad, but like you can make art while you’re sad.
Sometimes that helps make you less sad. I’m here to help you be creative no matter what your mental state is, which brings us to the fact that this is the Neurodivergent Creative podcast. And of course I’m leading in with New Year’s resolutions cuz it’s January. But soon we will get some tasty, spicy, neurodivergent creative content. So why am I attacking New Year’s resolutions? It is because they suck. Did you know that only 9% of people actually sustain their resolutions? 9%, which means that 91% i.e. most people i.e. The vast majority of most people i.e. you and me and everybody we know does not keep their New Year’s resolutions because they suck. Often this is a case of setting too many goals, um, not keeping track of your goals, you don’t make a plan or you just completely forget what you even set out to do. So question for you. What resolutions have you made in the past that you have achieved, if any? And if you haven’t, no shame because again, 91%. And what resolutions keep coming around again and again that you never really seem to stick to. I talk about these like sort of like high school relationships where like you break up and then you get back together and then you break up and then you get back together and then you break up and then you get back together and it’s like you’re not really happy together but you just keep doing it because it’s the only thing that, you know.
That’s how I feel about New Year’s resolutions and I’m ready to dump them and I am, I’m, I’m the dump him friend. So I’m gonna tell you also to dump New Year’s resolutions. So let’s talk about smart goals and why I hate them. Also, I endeavor to keep these episodes like sort of short and tasty and snack size. So I might talk fast. Please feel free to slow the audio down or if you love to live on the edge, speed the audio up and just download it straight into your brain hole. Love you. Okay, great. I hate smart goals because right, we know smart, specific measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. So what we do is we set a specific measurable goal that is time-bound and then if we don’t hit the deadline, we’re like, I’m a big poopy failure. Woe is me. I’m bad at goals when in reality your goal probably sucked in the first place because smart goals are trash <laugh>.
We can go more into that. I’ve written blogs about the fact that smart goals are trash. I post it on Instagram every once in a while and I just love, uh, shitting on smart goals. So if you want to @ me and defend smart goals, please bring it. I am very excited about it. Instead of smart goals, I teach real goals because I love an acronym. Real goals are realistic, energizing, adjustable and learning focused. So realistic as in they make sense for both your long-term vision as goals apply to and also in your life. If you are a person who has zero free time and your goal is to run a marathon, I don’t think that that’s realistic cuz you need time to be running like 10, 12, 16, 20 mile practice runs, uh, while you train for a marathon. So, you know, realistic, maybe jogging every once in a while for like two miles.
That’s a nice realistic goal. Okay, I say this as a former distance runner, so I’m not shitting on running, I’m just shitting on that time in “How I Met Your Mother” when Barney Stinson was like, you can just run a marathon, like whatever. And then he ran a marathon but then he couldn’t get off the subway cuz his legs weren’t working. So you want realistic goals is my point here. You want energizing goals when you think about them and the result that comes from them, you wanna feel good about it. If you’re like ug, this goal again, not energizing, perhaps adjust. Speaking of adjusting goals should be adjustable because acab includes the goal police and nobody is gonna jump out of the bushes and bonk you on the head if you extend your deadline, if you change your end result, if you’re like, you know what, I actually didn’t even like doing that so I stopped working on it.
That’s allowed. You are the person who sets your deadlines and your goals and you are solely in charge of them. You’re not letting anybody down. You can choose to not even let yourself down. It’s a beautiful, beautiful permission that you can give yourself to adjust your goal as you go so that it fits in with your life. And goals should be learning focused. Which means whether you achieve it, adjust it, or abandon it completely. You learn something because the focus is growth. It’s not just achievement for achievement’s sake because what does that matter if it’s not getting you to the person that you wanna be? Okay, some notes on how to stick to a goal. So if you wanna set a goal, we don’t like smart goals, but if you wanna set a real goal, here are my four tips to stick to a goal.
Number one, focus on why you are setting this goal. What is the purpose? What do you wanna feel? Who do you wanna be? What is the result underlying the goal? Often when you get real about that underlying result, you might find that you can achieve that already. It, it might just be a matter of deciding that you’re allowed to do X, y, Z thing even if you don’t hit that goal. So for instance, um, one of these episodes is gonna be about productivity and like time management kind of goals. So if you’re setting a time management goal, what’s the result underneath that? So if your goal is I’m gonna do bullet journaling, but you don’t really have a clear indicator of why you don’t have like a deep emotional connection to the result that lil bullet journaling is gonna give you, then it’s not gonna matter.
It’s just an arbitrary nonsense goal and you are going to abandon it because it doesn’t make any sense. So for instance, I have, I don’t know if it’s a goal, it’s kind of more of an intention, which we’re gonna get into setting intentions as well, better time management of my calendar. I wanna balance, so I want a 30 hour work week and I wanna balance that half freelance and half my coaching business. So that means if I want that 30 hour work week that I need to actually schedule myself and pay attention to the hours so that I’m not overscheduled and so that I can end my day and feel amazing just completely turning my brain off and going into rest mode. That is not something that I have always been able to give myself permission to do. I would often leave work, you know, and I work from home.
I’m self-employed so I leave the office and go to the living room on the couch, but I still felt like I didn’t do enough that day, et cetera. So the result underneath that goal is feeling like I worked hard, so now I get to play hard and I get to rest hard. And so the result is really more of a balanced time management. It’s not really about productivity, it’s about honoring my boundaries and discerning that difference is super helpful when you are goal setting, especially with New Year’s resolutions because they’re often just arbitrary garbage that everybody does or everybody says they wanna do. Okay, so tip one was get real about the purpose and the underlying result. Tip two is to do things in 90 day baby steps. It takes 67 days to fully cement a new habit. And that timer starts for those of us with ADHD, which is me and it’s probably you if you’re here, that 67 day timer begins after the shiny part wears off.
So when we’re like, Woohoo, new habit, everything’s gonna be amazing, I’m gonna change my life. If that takes 10 days to wear off, 67 starts then. So it’s actually a 77 days if it takes you two weeks, if it takes you two months for the shiny thing to wear off, then you start counting to the 67 day mark. So I like to just round that off to 90 days and just work on one little thing at a time to make sure that the habit makes sense for me to make sure that I am enjoying myself and to make sure that it’s getting me to that result underneath that I want. Step three is accountability. So especially if you are doing something totally new, staying accountable to it can be a big challenge. So to stay accountable you can do things like set reminders in your calendar or on your phone. However, those are very easy to ignore and they just turn into background noise. Same thing with post-it notes and stuff. They can just sort of become part of the environment. And so that doesn’t always work with ADHD. So if reminders do work, do it. And if they don’t work, don’t force yourself to make reminders and then get mad when they don’t work. Okay? This is about working with your brain instead of against your brain. And all these like one-size-Fits-all life hack approaches are for the neurotypicals. So if reminders work or don’t work, that’s great, do that or don’t. Having a buddy who you talk to everyday and you check in on each other’s goals or intentions, whatever, that can be super helpful. Or an accountability group. So for instance, I have um, some membership groups such as the Creatives Rebellion, which is my monthly membership. And then working title writing incubator, which is specifically about writing a book that’s a 12 month program. Those are great places for accountability because you can set your goals sort of within that group. We’ll tag you to remind you things like that. And you can even establish sort of a buddy system within the group and check in with each other. So that’s sort of some built in accountability. Another thing that I love accountability wise is changing your computer login password to something to do with your new habit.
Speaker 3 (12:53):
So for instance, and I can tell you this because it’s no longer my password. When I was gearing up to leave my abusive ex-husband in 2018, I changed all my passwords to some variation of leave his ass. So that it always kept me thinking about the fact like, don’t get complacent, don’t like fall for the, don’t get sucked back in, we’re leaving because you need to leave. So you know something like write my book 2023 or whatever your goal is, time management, six hour days, 30 hour week, just because the productivity examples are top of mind. That’s what I’m coming up with. So those are just a few accountability methods. You might have other ones that you know work. And my advice just from a neurodivergent perspective is if you’re trying something and it’s not working for your brain, just let it go and try something different because you can’t force yourself to make your brain operate the way a neurotypical brain does. We just have different wiring, we have different neural pathways, we recognize patterns differently, and some of this stuff is just literally not going to work and that’s okay.
Speaker 3 (14:07):
So I said there were four tips to stick to a goal. So one was the, the underlying purpose. Two is baby step 90 day changes, three is accountability, and four is evaluation. And this is really important because if you are just achieving a goal and then being like, cool, achieved a goal, let’s do another goal. Cool, achieve that goal, let’s do another goal. You’re never really taking the time to reflect and integrate what you learned because remember, goals should be learning focused. So I like to put in like a 30, 60, 90 day evaluation process where like a month into this new habit, I’m like, cool, am I enjoying this? Is it easy to do? Uh, is there some kind of barrier to it?
Speaker 4 (14:51):
Can I be doing something different? X, y, Z? Just evaluate it, what’s going right, what’s going wrong? And then do the same thing at 60 days. And then by the time you get to 90 days, you should hopefully have that honed in to a habit that has been formed, fully implemented and integrated and is something that you’re actually able to do sustainably without having to drag your to it every day. Uh, bonus tip is that how you talk to yourself about goals is a really big part of it. So if you are used to beating yourself up and kind of, shit-talking yourself when you fail or make a mistake or you forget for a day, there’s a huge difference between being like, oh no, I up. I’m the worst. Versus like, whoops, I totally forgot, I’m gonna try again tomorrow. I’m even going to, I don’t know, put a post-it note on the fridge so that I see the reminder when I make breakfast or my coffee.
Speaker 4 (15:47):
Like being compassionate to yourself when it comes to goals makes a huge difference and honestly will make goals feel better and less. So one more thing I wanna talk about in this little intro episode is setting goals, which we just talked about versus intentions. And I love the idea of an intention for New Year’s, or some people will say it’s a theme or some people will just pick a word to focus on as like sort of their new year vibe. Um, so maybe like spacious if your intention is to put more sort of intentional space and more time so that you’re not rushing so much. Um, I know someone whose word for last year was active, not as in like being like physically active, but as in being an active participant in what she was doing. So you might, um, choose a word like present or creative or tenacious or confident.
Speaker 4 (16:56):
Picking a word or a theme or an intention is more of a vibe than a goal, which is something that has an actionable result and a completion. So a goal is something that you’re like, cool, I did it. Check, check the box. You don’t really complete confidence. You know, a theme or an intention or something like that is more of an ongoing process. And I also came up with an acronym for intention setting because I love acronyms and you should know that about me. So I like to set divine intentions and divine means disruptive. Your intentions should disrupt the status quo. The norm. So any intention that you
Speaker 5 (17:48):
Make based on this mini-series and the podcast is going to be disruptive because we are going against the grain of the most popular resolutions cause Fuck ’em. So divine, disruptive, intuitive, values-based, imaginative, next level and exciting. So all of those should be pretty self-explanatory. If you want a refresher on any of the terminology or anything, please DM me on Instagram because I super love intention setting and goal setting and I would love to talk to you more about it. But that’s it for this little intro. This, this mini series will explore four common resolutions and support you in setting intentions toward your growth rather than shitty, arbitrary smart goals and typical New Year’s resolutions. Rad, have a good day. Stay fresh cheese bags. Love you.