With the New Year very much on the horizon it’s common to hear people say, next year I’m going to lose weight. I’m going to travel. I’m going to change jobs. I’m going to save money. Look back on the year that is just about to finish. How many of the resolutions you made the previous year have you been able to accomplish?
Most resolutions end before they even begin and apparently 12th January is when the majority of New Year resolutions have failed. Here’s the common reasons why New Year’s Resolutions Fail:
1) They’re not specific enough
2) They are made upon or what you feel you should be doing rather than something you truly want to achieve.
3) They’re a whim on the day rather than something truly thought out
4) They’re not written down or communicated to others
5) They’re not reviewed
6) They’re made upon not what you want but either what your friends and family want you to do, i.e. it is impossible to give up smoking unless you truly deep down want to give up smoking
7) They’re unrealistic or unachievable in the time-frame (perhaps they should really be a milestone towards a longer term 3-year, 5-year, 10-year goal)
Specific goal or goals
If you, as an individual, truly want to achieve a certain something you have to set it as a goal – a firm, dedicated goal that is specific and can be easily articulated to others in one simple sentence. You then have to make a firm commitment to achieve it. You have to want it so badly that your subconscious works towards achieving that goal. All successful people set goals so they have a clear picture about what they want. It motivates them to remain focused and to concentrate their resources, knowledge and their energies towards achieving that goal. A few goals rather than a diary full are easier to achieve as it helps you to focus on them better. Additionally, you don’t have to split up your resources and energies into many different directions.
This is a great story from Jim Carey when as jobbing actor, and by all accounts he was living in his car, he wrote a cheque to himself for $10M and gave himself five years to achieve it. He kept it in his wallet and periodically looked at it he was determined that one day he could honour that cheque. By regularly visualising he had the focus to network in the firm industry and made it his purpose to be known to every director and every studio to build up his name and credibility. Just under 5 years later he was offered the lead role in ‘Dumb and Dumber’ and cashed in that $10M cheque. It’s a good story from someone that we can all relate to and if you want to cut out the Oprah guff either side then listen to it from 1:48 to 2:38
Have you created your plan?
If you want to achieve something in the coming year set a goal rather than a resolution. What’s the difference? The difference is that resolution is just an unformulated idea, a desire, a phrase and really nothing more than a wish. A goal on the other hand is a specific target that you can easily communicate, measure and review. Goals are like affirmations because you probably have a plan A and a plan B in place that will enable you to reach the desired target and if you’re really keen then perhaps a plan C is also formulating in your mind! This means that you not only want to achieve that target but have plans in place that will help you achieve it.
If you’re having some problems thinking of goals here’s a goal setting workbook that is free to download that I wrote back in 2008. It’s a bit esoteric and if I’m honest a bit long-winded but I hope that there may be some articles here to help formulate your goals for 2015.
Of milestones and deadlines
A goal has deadlines within which to achieve those milestones – the smaller steps on the path to achieving that big goal. Deadlines and milestones are incredibly important. They tell you how far you’ve reached and how well, or not, you are advancing towards what you set out to do. They allow you to pause and reflect on how much more you still have to go before the end of the year. They direct you to change strategy if required to go faster, slower or take a different route. If you are redecorating your house you will often say by Monday I’ll finish painting the walls or by the weekend I will complete the varnishing. You are setting small, achievable goals and working towards them so you finish them by the deadline.
In order for a resolution to become a goal it must be communicable to those around you so that gives you the focus to achieve the goal. The easiest way to do this is to transfer your goal into numbers. ‘I’m going to lose weight’ is not enough as it needs to be more specific and date stamped such as ‘by the 23rd March 2015 I will have lost 18 pounds, weight 13 stone and be able to get into 34” trousers. On New Year’s Eve 2015 I will weigh myself and will be under 13 stone’.
You may feel that your goal may not be able to transferred into numbers such as ‘I want to be perceived as more professional by my team’ but it can by simply asking (perhaps anonymously) how team members would score you out of ten for professionalism. Then set a goal that by the 17th June you will ask the same question and aim to be at least two marks out of ten higher than you were in early January. Here’s some other examples:
New Year’s Resolution
‘I’m going to run a marathon’
‘I will run five miles per week in January 2015, ten miles per week in February and on the 23rd February I will run ten miles in one session. On the 24th February I will book myself onto a marathon in early June 2015 and follow a 12 week marathon training programme from 1st March 2015 to achieve this.
‘I want to save more money’
I will save at least £50 per month throughout 2015. By end of March 2015 I will have £200+ in savings, by end of June £500+ and by New Year’s Eve of 2015 I will have £1,000 in savings.
‘I will spend more time with my kids’
One weekend in two will be solely dedicated time to my kids. I will research 30 detailed days out which can be changed weather dependent. I will book in a ‘night out’ every other month with each child. All of this will be allocated into my electronic diary by 15th January
All made up without really thinking them through but hope that you get the idea?
Many set big goals at the start of the year and then frankly forget about it. Instead when you set your goals make entries into your electronic diary to prompt you to review it. That way you can make refinements and adjustments to ensure that the big goal is met.
A 58 year old friend of mine (and okay he is a personal trainer) set himself a goal of running 100 miles in 24 hours last December. We all laughed and said ‘no way’. The most he’d run prior to this was 26 miles but he dedicated every Saturday to a long training run and I witnessed him on a couple of occasions during his training really, really struggling. However, he didn’t give up, he stuck to his training plan and in August 2014 he ran 100 miles in 24 hours. I personally set a goal of running 750 miles in 2014. I was way ahead of plan until September but by mid-November life had gotten in the way and I realised that I still had 80 miles to go. I didn’t want to fail (particularly as I’d told so many people about my goal any many regularly asked how I was getting along) so ‘upped my game’ and increased my mileage to ensure the target was met. If I didn’t have that goal then frankly I wouldn’t have run from September onwards as I wasn’t training for anything and my training from January would be so much harder. If anyone is interested, and to prove ‘I eat my own dogfood’ my running tally in 2014 is here:
Don’t Keep it To Yourself
You are 8 times more likely to achieve your goals if you tell others. You then feel that you are held to account by them and that gives you the focus to succeed. And if you’re really resolute that you are going to achieve your goals in 2015 then make them public on Facebook, YouTube or your blog!
So to Conclude – 7 Steps to Achieving Your Goals in 2015
1. Decide upon your goals for 2015 – visualise yourself achieving them
2. Transfer your goals into numbers
3. Write them down in a positive and enthusiastic way that is both inspiring to yourself and easily communicable to others.
4. Set milestones throughout the year in your electronic diary (and make a promise to yourself that you will review them). If resources are needed to help you achieve the goals then get the plan in place to acquire them
5. Communicate your goals to others – the more publicly the better
6. Regularly review and make adjustments, if necessary, to stay on track
7. Take a willpower pill!
Really good luck with your goal setting for 2015 and Have a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!
NB - I haven’t fully decided just yet on my goals for 2015 but will publish them on this blog on 1st January 2015!