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5 Mistakes Most People Make Setting Goals For The New Year

Nicolas Cole

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Most people who are driven in their careers, or have an interest in personal growth, see December as the month of reflection.

They make time to look back at the previous year. They ask themselves what worked well–and what didn’t work so well. And then they begin the process of setting new goals for themselves.

We all love setting goals for ourselves.

The problem is, most of us love setting goals and imagining the future more than we do getting started. We can make To Do lists all day long, create calendars and monthly milestones and even make music playlists titled “Monday Motivation.”

But when it comes to getting into the nitty gritty and doing what needs to get done, that’s where most people struggle.

Everyone loves talking about the goals they set for themselves for the new year.

However, most people wait indefinitely to get started.

Here are 9 unfortunate reasons people choose to wait until the last possible second to begin working on themselves.

1. It’s unfortunate, but people need a big event to get started.

New Year’s Eve and the day that follows tends to be that “big event.”

For whatever reason, people need that celebration, that milestone, that defining marker to say to themselves, “Alright, it’s time.”

But the truth is, that event could happen tomorrow morning–if you created it yourself. And no, there won’t be confetti everywhere congratulating you on the new year. But you don’t need that.

All you need is to force yourself to take that first step. You don’t need a new calendar year to do that.

2. It’s unfortunate, but people want to wait for their friends and family members to start too.

Most people postpone beginning their new routines because their friends and family members are still enjoying the comforts of their old routines.

It’s a lot harder to start eating healthy, for example, when everyone around you is still binging on pecan pie.

Which is why, if you want to make progress, you need to take it upon yourself to go your own way. Stop waiting for someone else’s permission.

3. It’s unfortunate, but people love the idea of doing something more than they love actually doing it.

Every year, I hear dozens of people around me make big plans for the year to come. And every year, I know who is going to succeed and follow through and who is going to fail, purely based on the types of goals they set for themselves–and how long they wait to get started.

“I’m going to launch a successful company this year, for sure.”

“I’m going to gain 30 pounds of muscle.”

“I’m going to travel to 19 different countries.”

Meanwhile, they haven’t yet spent a single day working on their startup idea. They haven’t even gotten a gym membership. They haven’t traveled to more than one country in a year ever in their entire life.

These types of people set goals that are unrealistic. The people who succeed, however, are the ones who have already started, and set goals that are relative to the things they’re already doing.

“I’m going to scale my business 2x.”

“I’m going to put on another 5 pounds of muscle.”

“I’m going to travel to 2 different countries.”

They start small, with the intention of working up from there.

4. It’s unfortunate, but people don’t want to work on themselves during the holidays.

It’s Thanksgiving, and then it’s Christmas, and then it’s a bunch of New Year’s celebrations. Nobody is really in mood to start working on themselves during all that.

In all honesty, I see it entirely differently.

This is the best time to start putting your routines and habits in place. Chances are, you have more free time than normal. Your work responsibilities have reduced (on account of the holidays). You have quiet time to think and reflect–and do. And, everyone else is lounging around–which means you can get a head start.

Don’t discount the holiday season. I’m not saying you should be grinding the whole time, but don’t spend 8 straight hours on the couch either. Put this time to good use.

5. It’s unfortunate, but most people don’t know where to start.

Like I said, setting goals is easy. It’s the following through that’s hard.

Most people wait until the New Year because they think something magical is going to happen once the calendar year resets. Deep down, what they’re looking for is guidance. They want someone to help them turn the goals they’ve set for themselves into something actionable–and since they don’t know how to do it themselves, they wait.

And they wait.

And the next thing you know, it’s February and nothing has happened.

This is why it’s better to start sooner–and just start on your own. The first few steps you take in any new direction are going to be uncomfortable.

So you might as well get that part of the journey done in December so that you’re in-stride by January.

This article originally appeared in Inc Magazine.

Nicolas Cole is the founder of Digital Press, a content marketing agency that turns founders, executives, and entrepreneurs into world-renowned thought leaders. As an author, Cole is a 4x Top Writer on Quora and Top 30 Columnist for Inc Magazine with over 50 million views on his work. His writing has appeared in TIME, Forbes, Fortune, Business Insider, CNBC, The Chicago Tribune, and more.

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