The focus: The overwhelming majority of people who make New Year's resolutions fail to meet their goals.
The opportunity: Poor goal setting strategies are often to blame.
The solution: Use these 10 steps for goal setting success and make 2016 the best year yet!
If you've ever made a New Year's resolution and not stuck with it, don't worry - you're far from alone. Research shows that approximately 45% of Americans make New Year's resolutions, and of these a staggeringly high 75% fail to accomplish their goals. Whether you've made resolutions, or if you simply have personal and professional goals that you want to achieve, effective goal setting is at the very center of your chances for success.
Why New Year's resolutions don't work
There are a number of reasons why we don't reach the finish line with our resolutions or important goals, but here are the 6 that top the list in my experience.
1.) No clear plan
You may have heard the quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin that goes, "Failing to plan is planning to fail." Similarly, the French author Antoine de Saint Exupéry is credited with saying, "A goal without a plan is just a wish." Nothing rings truer when it comes to setting and keeping your goals. No matter how determined, motivated, and heartfelt you are, if you don't have a plan then you won't have success.
2.) "Should do's" versus "Want to's"
There's a big difference between doing something that you think you "should do" versus doing something because you genuinely "want to." Most often, when you believe you "should" do something, you're not really that into it for one reason or another. For example if you say, "I 'should' lose 10 pounds," you could mean that you don't actually want to do it, but that you might look more like the airbrushed picture on the cover of the magazine if you did. On the other hand if you say, "I 'want' to lose 10 pounds," you could be saying that you would like to lose the extra weight so that you can feel healthier, have more energy, and fit into those pants you love.
So many of the goals we set for ourselves are unrealistic and therefore unachievable from the start. You might have a goal for yourself that is so complicated that you'd need Albert Einstein to come back from the dead and invent a new equation to solve it. As he famously said, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." Or, if it's not too complicated, you may be making yourself wait too long to experience small victories along the way to a larger one. This can be frustrating and can sap your motivation to stay the course. You may also be forgetting to prioritize your goals effectively, which can leave you spinning and chasing something just outside of your grasp. Last, but not least, you might feel like you either want it all right now or not at all. This is possibly the most challenging culprit in setting unrealistic goals and takes a complete change in mindset to overcome.
If you don't have a plan then you won't have success.
4.) The inner critic
The inner critic is that small voice inside that tells you that you can't do it, you're not good enough, and that you shouldn't even try because you might fail. It's the inner judge, jury, and executioner of your biggest goals and most important dreams. As I wrote in a previous post, your inner critic is looking for what's wrong, what's missing, what's impossible. Instead of listening to this unwelcome intruder, learn to tap into your inner champion which is the voice inside of you that knows better. If you only listen to your inner critic, it will continue to dominate your thought life, keeping you from ever fully accomplishing your goals.
5.) No passion or purpose
Setting goals is more than just the mechanical work of thinking them up, writing them down, and working them out. They should also be relevant to who you are and to what moves your soul. One inspiring quote from an unknown author says, "Purpose is the reason for your journey. Passion is the fire that lights the way." I love this! Think of purpose as your big "Why?" and passion and your big "Wow!" When you lack a sense of purpose or passion, staying motivated is often an uphill battle. But, when you can stay connected with your sense of purpose and passion in relation to your goals, then you can keep the fire going to the end without burning out or extinguishing the flame.
6.) Quitting before the miracle happens
I've done it, you've done it, we've all done it. We give up too soon because we can't see the end of the road and we think it will never come. One reason for this is not acknowledging your progress along the way. When you don't give yourself credit for your small accomplishments, it's just like they never even happened as far as your mind is concerned. What you pay attention to grows, and what you ignore fades and dies. Be sure to recognize your progress as you go and you'll last longer. Another reason we quit too soon is that we might think it only takes about 21 days to form a new habit based on information from a couple of decades ago. This is no longer true. The newest research shows that it actually takes us more like 66 days, which is just about 2 months. Give yourself more time to reach your goals and you increase your chances of attaining them. And likely the biggest reason we give up early is that we have little or no accountability to another person. Get an accountability partner that you can trust to keep you honest, encouraged, and on target and you are saying YES to success.
Purpose is the reason for your journey. Passion is the fire that lights the way.
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