Each year millions of us start the year with one or more resolutions or goals. While these resolutions are made with the best of intentions over 80% of the people who make them will fail to keep them, with most of them falling by the wayside within a month or two. Many of you reading this have likely had similar experiences. The reasons for this are manifold, however, this break down or failure essentially comes down to five factors – motivation, goal setting, mindset, habits, and discipline. If you are cognizant of these factors, address them upfront, and follow through your prospects are immeasurably increased. Continue reading if you want to know WHY this is important, WHAT you need to do, and HOW you need to do it.
Motivation – The first question you have to ask yourself is why are you setting these goals, why is it important to you, and how will it make a difference in your life? Whimsically establishing a few goals without looking beyond the reasons for it and the desired impact on your life is a formula for failure. The goals you establish should be internally driven and established by you, not by external forces. The more you define the benefits of achieving these goals the greater your prospects for success as you envision the broader implications. For example, you may decide to take a course in a certain area to broaden your knowledge or expand your education. The benefits are you will learn something, expand your expertise, keep yourself sharp, and force you to adopt good habits which will carry over into other areas – all of which will serve as a catalyst for advancement in your professional life and enrichment in your personal life. As another example, you may set a goal of losing weight. When doing so consider the implications and the myriad benefits. You will feel better, look better, be healthier, and have more energy which will convey a more positive self-image and enhance your non-verbal communication. It will also result in others gaining more confidence in you as you are seen as someone who can achieve their goals and get results. Realizing the positive impact achieving your goals will have in these various aspects will instill a greater belief in what you are doing, thus increasing your resolve and motivation.
Goal Setting – You are likely familiar with the acronym SMART as it pertains to goal setting i.e., specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-related. Every single aspect applies when setting your goals for the new year, however, you need to go further and dig deeper. One of the mistakes many people make when establishing goals of this nature is that they are so sweeping, broad in nature, and aggressive that they over reach and set themselves up for failure. Once you have a certain goal in mind develop a realistic understanding of the various actions which are involved to get there and the associated timeframe. Understand it is not one thing but a series of actions, over time, that will get you there. Break your goal down into smaller, more measurable steps called objectives with timelines or milestones attached to them. Having a series of short-term objectives which you achieve that are associated with a long-term goal reinforces the fact that you are making progress, albeit one step at a time, all of which reinforces your behavior as these small wins mount up into a great victory.
Mindset – The body follows the mind, if the mind is strong the body will be strong. For this to happen you have to have a firm belief in what you are doing and the associated benefits. Don’t go into this thinking it is going to be a walk in the park. Understand it will take time and effort, there will be setbacks, but vow to yourself to stay the course. Be determined, resolute, and 100% committed. Change your vocabulary. You no longer “think” you can do it, you “know” you can do it. This isn’t something you “should” do, it is something you “will” do. Do not allow yourself to opt out just because things aren’t going the way you want them. Remain undeterred by the naysayers or negative minded individuals who offer their rationale as to why you will not be successful. And last, but not least, ditch the excuses.
Habits – If nothing changes, nothing changes. The reason you are making this resolution is because of bad habits. To do this requires a change in behavior, and if you are not ready to change, you are ready to fail since only a change in behavior will enable you to reach your goal. Stay focused on what you want to do and what you need to do to achieve your goals. Putting your goals in writing and reviewing progress on a regular basis is not optional, it is mandatory, as these actions reinforce behavior and ingrain the process into your memory. Take a look at those activities and habits that contribute towards attainment of your goal. Conversely, be cognizant of those activities which detracts you from those activities which are necessary to attain your goal, such as social media. Associate with those people who are supportive of your goals, even sharing it with them, as if they are truly friends, they will be supportive of your cause and offer encouragement. Moreover, by sharing your goal with others it helps infuse you with a greater degree of accountability since others are aware of and supportive of what you are doing. The more allies you have, the greater the prospects for victory.
Discipline – Discipline is the soul of your journey. You will never achieve your goals without discipline. Discipline will enable you to remain steadfast and resolute and give you the will to take the necessary actions and adhere to the regimen required to achieve your goals. A lack of discipline will result in excuses and allow you to become easily distracted or dissuaded from doing what is necessary to achieve success. Once you have defined what you want to do and why you want to do it you have to develop a routine that is supportive of you attaining your goal. Stick with this routine and make the commitment to follow through. Over time this new regimen will become ingrained as small successes mount up, bad habits are abandoned, good habits are developed, and you are in control.
Now you have an understanding of the basic factors which all come into play when one sets goals and moves forward to achieve them. However, let’s drill down into this even further and go step by step to better define the process for you and give you a roadmap.
- Establish Three Goals
Why three? Everything you do affects another area of your life, directly or indirectly, just succeeding in one area does not bring real change. So, give some thought as to what areas of your life you would like to change taking into account both your professional and personal life. Consider these points:
- Why is it important to you?
- What is the desired end result?
- Set both extrinsic and intrinsic goals to achieve a proper balance.
- Ensure the goals are realistic and attainable with a degree of challenge.
- Assign timelines to these goals.
- Alignment Assessment
Your goals should be conducive to your lifestyle, work hours, habits, and personal life. If you set goals which require time you don’t have available or are out of sync with your lifestyle or routine you are merely setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. These points should be questioned:
- Do these goals align with who you are and what you want to be?
- Are these goals consistent with your values?
- Are you striking the proper balance so you do not overtly neglect one area in your pursuit of these goals?
- Do you have people around you who are supportive of you attaining these goals as it is difficult to go it alone?
- Are you truly motivated and committed to attaining these goals since half-measures or partial commitment will not get you there?
- Development and Definition
In pursuit of your three goals what specific actions must you take towards attainment of your goals? Visualize your desired outcome and do the following:
- List the actions you will have to take for each goal.
- Assign objectives or milestones for each goal.
- Put timelines associated with each objective or milestone understanding that the sum total of meeting these objectives all contribute towards achieving your goal.
- Anticipate the obstacles you will overcome and how you will deal with them.
- Ensure they are realistic and attainable, but not without challenge since meeting these challenges will make attainment of your goals more rewarding.
- Prioritize and Document
You only have so much time and resources, so without prioritization it is a sure-fire method to ensure nothing gets done – or at least gets done well. Documentation is mandatory since putting them in writing provides clarity and avoids ambiguity. Documenting your goals also gives you a road map and keeps you more aware of your goals and your progress towards them, resulting in greater focus and fewer distractions.
- Consider which goals are most important and rank them in order.
- If you can’t decide go with the one you are more confident in attaining.
- Set deadlines in attaining these goals with milestones listed towards attainment of each goal.
- Share your goals with your family and close friends who will be supportive.
- Understand you may not completely achieve 100% of your goals just as a company rarely attains 100% of its’ goals.
- Review, Adapt, and Revise
You should periodically review your goals to assess where you are and make adjustments as necessary. To do this, a checklist is imperative, as each accomplishment of a milestone towards will serve as a source of satisfaction and motivation.
- Periodically review your checklist.
- Adapt to changing circumstances, do not be afraid to make revisions that make sense.
- Maintain a positive mindset and firm resolve, undeterred by setbacks, and continue to move forward.
- Do not be afraid to ask for help and seek support as needed.
- Maintain the self-discipline which is required and ditch the excuses.
Remember, at the end of the day, change only comes from within. You are accountable to only you. If you adhere to these steps above it will not be a matter of success but one of degree of success, which starts with you.
All the best,
Fred Stuvek, Jr