Did you know that 92% of people fail in their New Year Resolutions. That means only 8% of us make it!
When we’re chilling on the sofa with a glass of something and a box of chocolates within arm’s reach, over Twixtmas it’s all too easy to dream how life will be different the following year.
But these dreams are often based on unrealistic expectations and we set ourselves up to fail.
However we should be setting goals and this means following a few simple guidelines! Now that you are back in work mode it’s a great time to do a bit more than simply dream from the sofa!
Did you know that the majority of New Year Resolutions are related to our body image, confidence and wardrobe?
The top 3 goals for 2015 were:
- Losing weight
- Getting more organized,
- Spending Less
So how do we set personal goals that we can stick to? Follow these simple 5 steps and refer to my examples to see how you can set fantastic New Year Resolutions that you’ll be looking back on in December 2016 and proudly saying – yep I did that!
1. Why ‘to do’ lists don’t work!
If like me you are a ‘list’ person there’s nothing more satisfying than looking at a long list. It shows you’ve thought of everything right?
No! It means you’re losing focus before you’ve even started! You won’t achieve anything! Sorry sounds like another negative thought but it’s true.
Sean Covey and his co-authors explain in The 4 Disciplines of Education *1 that our brains are not wired to cope with multiple tasks.
As we try to cope with more and more inflow of information and tasks we give each less attention and do none of them well. I can certainly relate to that one. Switch off my email and social media to write blog posts and it becomes a whole lot easier!
We love to believe we’re good at multi-tasking in our ever ‘busy’ worlds but the truth is that nothing gets done properly when we focus on multiple tasks.
2. Make those goals SMART
SMART is an acronym, which stands for:
Specific – there’s no point having a goal that sets out to ‘lose weight’. Instead come up with a goal that says I will lose 10Kg by 31st May.
Measurable – as above you are going to lose 10kg by 31st May. These measurements can be defined.
Actionable – how are you going to do it? I’m going to cut out XY from my diet, I will go to the gym 3x per week. These are actions that will work towards your goal
Realistic – saying you would lose 10kg by 31st January would not be realistic. It’s recommended that you aim to lose 0.5Kg/week. This rate should ensure that the weight loss is sustainable and at a healthy rate.
Timely – You’ve set the goal of 31st May. This gives it an ultimate achievement date. It may help if you add in interim dates to check your progress.
SMART goals help us to be really clear on what we need to achieve and by when. They provide us with clarity and measurability.
3. Write it down
It’s a fact that if you write down your goals they are far more likely to happen than if they remain just ideas in your head. Your goals become a statement of intent.
A study by a professor at the Dominican University of California found that people who wrote their goals down and shared then with others were 33% more likely to achieve them versus those who did not write down their goals.
This is no coincidence and scientist can explain this with the way that the brain works, explained by Henriette Anne Lauser in her book ‘Write It Down, Make It Happen’*2. The act of writing down triggers a reaction in the brain which sends out a message to ‘pay attention’ ‘check the detail’.
Finally while writing it down may trigger our long-term memory our short-term memory is more likely to need a nudge! So write your goals down where you can refer to them on a regular basis.
4. Review Regularly
It’s a fact that we cannot accurately predict the future and we cannot control all external factors.
Here’s another great example about getting organized and spending less.
Having learnt from our SMART Goal Setting process we might say:
- By 1st February 2016 I will have detoxed my wardrobe.
- Clothes I have not worn for 6 months will be donated to charity or thrown away depending on their condition.
- I will ensure that items I’m keeping can be used in 3 outfits.
- I will then make a list of items missing from my wardrobe so that I can allocate my 2016 clothes budget of £xxx to what I need to buy.
Then in April you receive an invitation to a wedding that you hadn’t expected. By regularly reviewing your goals you’ll be able to make plans as to whether you have anything in your wardrobe or if you need to reallocate your budget.
5. Share them Selectively
Until last year I’d always been reticent about sharing my goals.
But in December 2014 I decided to follow the advice I’d read about sharing your goals, as telling people will help you to get support and also holds you accountable.
I proudly announced on Facebook that Mark (my husband) and I would be walking GR20 in 2015.
GR20 is a long distance footpath. The path traverses the mountains of Corsica and is the hardest long distance footpath in Europe. It takes around two weeks to walk from end to end, staying in refuges (basic mountain huts) or camping. It means carrying a pack and hiking for several hours a day. It’s been a dream since 1998 when we first started travelling to Corsica that we’ll walk GR20.
Our plans were shattered when I sustained a knee injury about 4 weeks before we were due to travel and it stubbornly refused to heal enough to walk and climb with a loaded pack.
Share your goals but with someone close to you who will offer the motivation and encouragement you need, but don’t broadcast to the world! Bragging rights can be left till after you’ve achieved your goals!
So it is okay to dream big and have great ideas – life would be pretty dull if we didn’t use our wonderful imaginations.
But when it comes down to what you really want you need sit down and work out those goals, follow the guidelines and remember that this is for your benefit.
As part of the goal setting process keep it positive. Our new year resolutions tend to focus a lot on negative actions. We need to be kind to ourselves and use positive thoughts – we’ll achieve a lot more by banishing should and must from our vocabulary. Instead focus on will and want they will give you much more encouragement!
Now how about you? Have you ever set a really big goal and achieved it – how did that make you feel? I’d love to get your thoughts on the subject and find out if you consciously set yourself goals. Please leave your comments in the box below.
*1 The 4 Disciplines of Execution – Sean Covey
*2 Write it down make it happen – Henriette Anne Lauser