Changing Your Mind: A New Approach to Goal-Setting

Posted by | Jan 2, 2014

The end of the year provides us with a natural opportunity for reflection, reinvention, and change. Forgive the clichés, but who doesn’t love the idea of starting a fresh page or turning over a new leaf? Most of us make New Year’s resolutions, but most of us fail to keep them. That may be because we try to change our behaviour without really changing our minds.

Mindset is critical when you are setting and attaining goals. Instead of framing your goals as imperatives or deprivations (I must eat less and lose weight, I have to stop procrastinating) try thinking about them as opportunities to learn and grow. Rather than thinking that you need to quit smoking, switch instead to the idea that you must learn more about ways to improve your lung health. Don’t tell yourself that you have got to work out more often; think about exercise as finding new opportunities to strengthen and enjoy your body. Instead of berating yourself for failing to initiate or execute projects, tell yourself that you are going to explore new strategies and tactics for managing them more efficiently.

Experts also suggest that goals become more attainable when they are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and have a timeline. Additionally, it makes sense to look carefully at what purpose your current behaviour might be serving. For instance, if you avoid studying, even though your goal is to earn a higher grade in a class, consider what need your procrastination is serving and how you might meet that need in a different way.

A change in thinking is the most effective pathway to altering negative behaviour. Moving from a mindset of deprivation to one of discovery can help you achieve your goals. These resources offer tips and tactics to help you keep those resolutions.


Andersen, Erika. “4 Simple Ways To Have A Better Shot At Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions.” 1 January 2014. Web. 6 January 2014.

Anderson, Carolyn. “How to Change Your Mindset to Achieve You New Year’s Resolutions.” 10 January 2013. Web. 6 January 2014.

Ryan, Julia. “This Online Class Wants to Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions.” 31 December 2013. Web. 6 January 2014.