Saturday 15 December 2012

2013 New Year’s Resolutions vs. Goal Setting for 2013

We all know that New Year’s resolutions, with some excellent willpower, will normally last until around the 12th of January. The three main reasons for this are quite simple:

  1.  The resolution is something that others want them to achieve, be that friends, family or society, such as giving up smoking, drinking less or losing weight. In my experience unless the individual themselves personally has an all encompassing desire to change then they simply won’t.
  2. The resolution is what they feel they should be doing rather than what they truly want, i.e. learning fresh skills, enrolling on that course, a new job to earn more money (even though they’re quite happy where with their current employer, they’re comfortable with a decent work-life balance, and they’re treated well), etc. Also in this category are pure materialistic goals – if that’s what you really want, then fine but what’s the point of wealth without health and monies without funnies!
  3.  But mainly it is because the resolution is set with reasonably good intention on New Years’ Day each year but at no time from that point is it reviewed or planned out. There’s no deadline, no written evidence, there’s no stick for failure, or for that matter, carrot for reward, and they’re not communicated either regularly enough to the ‘resolution maker’ or to others. The well intended New Year resolutions simply become nothing more than a shopping list of ‘nice to haves’.
So let’s start by saying that resolutions do not work unless they’re written down, they’re regularly reviewed (daily), they’re worked upon (a plan is followed), and they’re embedded into the subconscious (the conscious mind, or your ego, prefers the instant gratification of that ‘cream and jam smothered doughnut’ to your long term objective of feeling fitter, healthier and happier that’s twelve months away!). Resolutions that are written down, planned and reviewed are then transformed into goals. And, goal setting, when methodically followed, does work. It does, of course, take a bit of though and effort though.
There’s a link here to a worksheet that I wrote five years ago now -  It’s a bit esoteric for many, but I hope that you may find some, or maybe all of them, interesting exercises to undertake. Back in 2007, 2008 and 2009 I used to set myself around fifty goals per annum (I’m not joking – pages of them!), and the majority were never realised twelve months later. However, the majority of them that were set over three years ago have now been met, so it’s not a bad thing to set a load of goals, twenty or more, for the longer term. However, focusing back to 2013, run through the exercises that you’re comfortable with and choose three goals that you truly, truly have an overwhelming desire to achieve. Make them a real 9.9 out of 10 ‘want to have’ of a goal for you and you only!
Now write them down in the present tense, without negative connotations, and with a benefit statement as if it is 31st December 2013. For example,
“It is 31st December 2013, and I am fitting back into my 34” jeans. I am continuously complimented on how great I look, and I feel happier and healthier for losing two stone” or “For the last year I have been healthier for breathing in nothing but fresh air. My skin looks great; my clothes smell great, and I’m always complimented on how much fitter I am." As you can tell, this is so much more powerful than the traditional New Year’s Resolution of “I’m going to lose weight” or “stop smoking” and there is no hint of negativity in the statements.
And don’t feel that they have to be massive changes. Two of my great loves are, of course my children, but also live music. I’m conscious that I’ve wasted a number of weekends in 2012 by not having things planned as much as I’d have liked, as a consequence so many have become, well pretty unmemorable. Furthermore, with a busy life and four kids I’ve not been to as many gigs in recent years as I’d like as I LOVE live music. So, two of mine for 2013 are as follows:
“Looking back across 2013 I’ve seen at least one live band every month, and I feel much more musically aware again” and “It is 31st December 2013, and I’m looking at my photo books of the year and cannot believe how many fantastic days out that we’ve had as a family." See, no huge life changes in the ‘grand scheme of things’ but I know that in achieving both, I will make a positive difference to both my kids and my own happiness.
So, now that they’re written we need to send the subconscious into action. This is done in two ways: 
  1. Reading and visualising them regularly, (i.e. daily) and,
  2. Planning and reviewing.
1) Reading and Visualising: So here are some basic ideas to read and visualise them daily: 
  • Cut out a piece of card that fits the space for a photo in your wallet or purse.
  • Write them on a post-it note and stick it on your bathroom mirror.
  • Put them on the kitchen corkboard with your planner
  • In MS Word, or similar, type them out onto a 10x15cm page layout and ‘save as’ a 6 x 4 PDF. Get this printed professionally and put into a frame for your desk, mantelpiece or bedroom shelf.
  • In PowerPoint, or similar, create slides for each of your goals and save as individual .jpgs. Then use them as a revolving slideshow as your desktop or screensaver
  • For less than twenty quid you can buy a digital photo fridge magnet. Save your goals, and the steps to achieving them, as converted PowerPoint slides. Then add motivational photos and quotes and set up as the content to the frame and attach to your fridge.
I think it also helps to make yourself accountable to others for that extra motivation. So communicate your three 2013 goals to friends and family, add to your blog, add it to the comment's page below, add to your Facebook wall (so they’ll show in your timeline), tell your colleagues (they might even give you an additional day’s leave for planning!), even write yourself a letter and post it to yourself!
2) Planning and Reviewing.  Now, here are some basic ideas for planning and reviewing:
Dedicate a day between now and New Year’s Eve to planning your three main goals for 2013. For instance, if it is to lose weight – what diet plan will you follow, will you join a dieting club (research which one), will you hire a personal trainer (research), will you join a gym (research), what specifically will you change in your diet to lose weight and how will you work this in with the rest of your family and so on. Then, during this planning session mark down the small steps along the path of 2013 that enable you to achieve your main goals. If it is to lose two stones, then that’s half a stone a quarter or just over two pounds of weight loss per month. By setting these small targets and achieving you will be spurred on to meet the next one.
Now you’ve planned the small steps you must plot in the review dates to ensure you’re on track. It sounds excessive but plot in an entire day four times across the year to review your goals and if needed to make the changes required to get 'back on track'. Set these days as follows, the first at the end of January and then the remainder at the end of March, June and September. Put them into your diary, outlook calendar or whatever and take out the entire day to focus on yourself. During these sessions, you can take the time to change tack, make adjustments, research different methods and spend time looking further ahead to new goals. If you’ve gone off track, don’t panic, don’t give up and use this day to refocus and get yourself back on track. Make them a ‘me day’ – no meetings, no distractions, no putting off. If it is imperative to postpone, then ensure that you reschedule the planning day within seven days maximum.
7 Steps to Achieving Your Goals in 2013
So to recap:   
  1. Choose your three main goals that YOU truly want to achieve in 2013.
  2. Write them down in the present tense as if it is 31st December 2013.
  3. Between now and New Year’s Eve 2012 spend a day planning how you are going to achieve your goals with steps and milestones along the path. Get the resources together to help you achieve your goals.
  4. Set dates in your Outlook calendar, or similar, for review days
  5. Communicate your goals to friends, family and colleagues
  6. Set up a method where you will see your goals on a daily basis.
  7. Add them to your Facebook Wall, blog, our blogger page, whatever!
And most of all Good Luck. Have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013
Rob Scott is the Managing Director of Aaron Wallis, a UK based sales recruitment agency.

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