With the Christmas holidays coming to a close and the New Year looming, its time to start thinking about what you want for 2018.
I love New Year. It is a great time for New Beginnings, drawing a line in the sand and letting go of all the mistakes and blunders of the year gone past. Ready and waiting for the chance to do things better.
Unfortunately come February most of us have gone back to our old habits, forgotten about our great plans while we cling tightly onto the excuses and loop holes that we give ourselves so we don’t have to feel guilty.
So why is it that only 20% of New Year Resolutions are achieved each year?
We don’t really know what we want
For years I set goals and didn’t achieve them. I ceremoniously wrote them down and ritually didn’t achieve them. I wrote goals about houses I wanted to own and countries I wanted to visit and other things I wanted to have or be. The reality was that I wasn’t really sure why I wanted them or what it would mean to me or my life if I achieved them. Like a woodpecker I kept repeating the process and kept getting the same results or more to the point, lack of results. (Einstein would have doubted my sanity)
What changed? I stopped aimlessly hoping for more and started to unearth the reasons why I wanted it. When I decided on a goal I wanted, I asked myself why I wanted it. What would this goal add to my life? How would my life or the lives of those around me be better? I looked at my values and connected with my purpose and I checked if those goals were in alignment with both. By the end of the process I had more clarity. I could more easily choose and set goals and little by little the number of goal boxes ticked each year began to increase.
Action: Get clear about what you really want. Don’t limit yourself by the limitations of your imagination. Don’t set goals that are sensible or logical, sensible goals are fine as long as they motivate and excite you. Ask yourself why? What do you want to experience in life?
We don’t get specific enough
You will rarely meet a person who has set a new Year’s Resolution to exercise three times a week every week. More commonly the goal will be to get in shape or to loose weight. What does that mean to you? Loosing weight for you could be shedding a few pounds, for someone else it could be one hundred pounds. Define exactly what you want to do. If you want to become a writer in 2018 what does that mean. Does this mean writing five articles a month or writing 10,000 words a week towards a best seller? Get very clear about the what.
Action: Be clear about what it will take to reach your goal and use this clarity to set your goals. State what exactly you will do, when and how, being specific will increase your chances of success.
We set goals we think we should have
The second area where we set goals and don’t achieve them is when they are goals we think we should have. The ones society tells us we should pursue. Exercise, promotions, we should drink less, smoke less and be more. While all of these goals are good goals to pursue, you must be motivated towards their pursuit. Year after year we want to be slimmer and fitter but we rarely connect with the why. Why do we want this? What would it mean to you to be fitter or slimmer? The fear of getting fat might motivate some people to exercise while the thought of a six pack will be a pull for other people. When you understand whether it is loss or gain that motivates you, it will help you to motivate yourself when your energy and enthusiasm starts to wane.
Action: Spend some time thinking about your goal, thinking about what it would feel like to achieve it and what it would feel like to not achieve it? Set goals that really mean something to you, goals that will have a positive impact on your life if achieved.
We set too many goals at once
New Year’s resolutions tend to be life changing things. Often we fail because we try to do too much at once. Loose weight, give up smoking, get in shape and be a nicer person. All of these goals alone are big goals but together become close to impossible. When we go for goals like this we are setting ourselves up for failure. What about drinking more water, going to bed before midnight or writing for ten minutes a day? Think about setting smaller goals this year which will help you to change your habits. Habit changes are what gets you your goals. A lot of smaller easily achievable goals can often have a greater impact and don’t feel like you have to loose a limb to achieve them.
Action: Start small, so small that you can’t say no. Your goals are achieved through your daily habits. Implement a small new habit that will help you to reach your goals.
We are not willing to give up anything
Now here is where most of us fall down. You may be motivated to achieve a goal and do everything you need to do to get it but are you willing to give anything up? To gain something the likelihood is you will have to give something else up. To loose weight we need to give up eating and drinking too much. To make more money in business you may have to give up some free time. To compete in a sporting event you may have to miss some family occasions. Understanding this and having a willingness to give up some of your existing habits is necessary to move forward. Giving something up doesn’t have to be a difficult task if you are doing in it pursuit of a motivating goal.
Action: Identify what you need to give up in order to achieve your goal this year. Decide if you are willing to do this or not before you waste your time setting goals that you aren’t going to achieve.
Have a think about what small changes you could implement in 2018 that would make it a great year. Get clear and get going and let me know how you get on.
If you want guidance on creating a plan and help implementing it you can sign up for my Free online Masterclass and come along to my January event Design a life you Love in Dublin on the 25th of January