There’s a compulsion among many of my friends and family at this time of year to set some sort of major, life-changing goal for the year. There’s also the common trend that within the next 3-4 weeks, most of them will have given up on their goals.
Naturally we’re not alone. Yearly hundreds of thousands of people (if not millions) pay homage to this long-held tradition of making and (sadly) breaking their resolutions for the new year. The general statistic for people keeping their resolution is so pitifully low that there are not TV programs dedicated to showcasing people keeping and breaking their resolutions.
There are fortunately a handful of people who do make their resolutions come true. Around 4% according to some studies.
As well as amusing TV shows, there are studies around people who do actually often keep their resolutions.
So where I’m not actually a big fan of New Years’ Resolutions per se, I am of course an avid student of goal-setting and achieving. I am a fan of finding ways of achieving our goals that do not rely on the commencement of a new year in the generally accepted Georgian calendar.
This year, although I am not setting myself a resolution, I will be doing a trial run of a lifestyle change. I will be going Vegan for January – something they’re calling “#Veganuary”. In the meantime, let’s talk about why people do not keep to their goals.
Before we explore how to impress our loves ones with our uncanny ability to keep and achieve our goals, here’s a couple of reasons why people do not keep their resolutions.
Many people have grand ideas of what they would like to achieve in the coming year. Some want to lose 30lbs of weight in a short amount of time. Or go from being overweight to becoming a bodybuilder. Some people want to become fluent in a new hobby, for example learning to play the piano.
As we know with SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) goals, any unrealistic goals are unlikely to come to fruition. Though it’s not entirely impossible to become a bodybuilder or master playing the piano in a year, this usually relies on an incredible amount of time dedicated to the task at the expense of many other.
Unspecific or Not Accurate
Another major reason why we don’t achieve our goals is if the goal is not very specific. For example, someone might decide to simply “lose weight” but not say how much. Another point of inaccuracy is exactly when they might want to achieve this goal by. It is implied with New Years’ Resolutions that we will achieve this goal by 31st December of the new year. Often this is not an accurate analysis of how long it would take to achieve our goals. Some goals require a lot less time, while for others (our bodybuilder), a year may be woefully short.
We do however have a great adrenaline rush and feeling of euphoria associated with achieving goals. And the bigger the goal, the better we expect we will feel when we achieve this goal. Our expectations need to be cushioned with a layer of delayed gratification and expectancy that not all the traffic lights will be green when we move off towards our goal…
Pitfalls and Failure
…Which leads me to the expectation of some that there will be smooth sailing on their voyage to weight-loss utopia or business windfalls.
We will face hurdles. Many of those predictable if we really take the time out to plan for them. When we set goals outside of the new year, we usually factor in that there may be some setbacks. However when we’re between glasses of bubbly and stories from Uncle James about how much he missed you all this year but couldn’t for the life of him locate your phone number to call (though he did friend you on Facebook in March), we make ourselves promises that are somewhat unrealistic and not tempered with due caution.
Goals that work!
Naturally the first step in achieving any goal is to choose a goal which will work for you. This means a SMART goal. Having a goal that fits this will mean that you will not be setting yourself up for failure. By all means the goal should be a stretch – It’s no use having a goal to walk 500 steps daily when you know you’ll do that anyway. A goal that is too easy, is just as bad as a goal that is too hard to achieve. Unless used as a stepping stone to build up to a bigger goal – e.g. building a workout routine knowing that you can do 3 sets of 10 with a comfortable weight before upping the ante. By writing down your goal in this format, you’ll also do what almost all goal-setting experts will tell you – that is writing down your goal. Studies show that if you write your goal down, you are 10x more likely to achieve the goal. Your chances go up from 4% to 44% just by writing down your goal. So by all means write it down somewhere you will see it daily.
There’s a lot to be said for accountability. If you keep the goal to yourself, you are far less likely to achieve it. Why? Because sadly, you’re the easiest person to lie to, and the best at forgiving yourself by justifying why you couldn’t take the actions you needed to.
Share your goal with some close friends or family. If you must limit the reach, at least a few people who you know can tap you on the shoulder and bug you about whether you’ve done what you said you’d do, by the time you said you’d do it.
If a friend has the same or a similar goal to you, it is an extra motivator to each person. If you want to go all out, tell the world! Stick it on your LinkedIn profile and Facebook. Tell specific people to hold you accountable, and that will give you the extra push to make things happen!
This isn’t the same as having someone tap you on the shoulder and make you nervous about your 7pm accountability call, this is about specifically seeking out people who can help you achieve your goal. Are there experts, coaches, or friends you can turn to, to make things happen faster? Can you learn something from these people or from a mentor so that achieving your goal becomes more realistic.
Get a coach
As mentioned above, getting a coach can really help. I’m not just saying this so you can hire me as your coach (which I highly recommend to the point that I think the NHS should work me into their food pyramid somehow) but also because I am a living testament to coaching. I wouldn’t be where I am today without coaches helping me. I wouldn’t have a business and wouldn’t even be a coach myself. If you want results, accountability and a faster growth curve, consider a coach to help you get there.
If you found this post useful, I’d love to hear from you!
If you wish to accelerate your growth this year, so that you do not become part of the 96%, and truly take charge of your life and your time, book a free consultation here.