Did you make any resolutions this year? You’re going to live a more healthy lifestyle – right? Drink less, exercise more, spend more time with the family? Or perhaps you’re going to be more focussed on your career, or even get a new job?
Well we’re now into the second week of the 2015 so it’s probably appropriate to ask how are you doing with those new resolutions?
But Pete – give me a break, I’ve only just made the resolution – I haven’t achieved it yet!
So I’m sorry to tell you – you probably won’t!
Does that matter? Maybe, or maybe not – depending on your point of view.
Studies show that 25% of us abandon our New Year Resolutions within one week. That’s pretty scary when you think that these resolutions were supposedly about things that really matter – our health, our wealth, our relationships. Furthermore 60% of us abandon our resolutions. And 60% of us have abandoned our resolutions within 6 months. Even more interestingly we “recommit” to the same annual resolutions an average of 10 times.
So how do we increase our chances of actually achieving our resolutions (or Goals to make it sound a little more business-like). Here are some of my thoughts on what works for me:
- Write them down. Sounds trivial, but this really is an essential starting point for clarifying what your goals actually are. Psychologically this act creates a degree of commitment to the goals. It also gives us something to refer to later in the year (see point 7).
- Get Specific. Lose Weight, get fit – these are far too loose to give yourself a chance of success. Define how much weight and by when. Indeed, is “losing weight” actually the goal or is just a step towards another goal. Applying the statement “so that…” to the goal in order to provide a stronger emotional connection to your Goal. For example, “Lose 2 stone by August 31st so that I can comfortably get into my suit for Fred’s wedding”
- Be Unrealistic. This may sound slightly controversial to those of us brought up with the corporate mantra of setting SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timescale), but I think goal-setting is different from objectives setting. My view is that the purpose of goals is to help motivate us to change our behaviours, so it’s as much about the journey as the destination. If we set ourselves easily achievable goals, then there is little motivation for us to do anything differently.
- What Next? This is an absolutely critical step. For each of your goals ask yourself “What can I do today to make progress towards this goal”. It doesn’t need a full project plan, but simply completing the next small step or two will give us a sense of forward momentum.
- Tell someone. Peer pressure can be a wonderful thing. Once you declare to your friends that you will exercise 3 times a week, then it becomes much more likely that you will.
- Think about Habits as well as Goals. Goals are typically thought of as being outcome based. However perhaps there may also be new habits that you wish to develop – for me it’s things like drinking 2 pints of water first thing every morning, or meditating at the start of every day. Perhaps you may wish to keep a list of these things too – here the challenge is to sustain rather than achieve.
- Review your progress and celebrate success. You will increase your chances of success exponentially if you regularly review your list of goals, think about where you’ve made progress and plan your next step on the journey.
How do you go about increasing the likelihood that you will achieve your goals or resolutions?