We’ve all been there. The New Year comes around and with it the promise of new choices, a new you, a new life. One or two weeks pass and we’ve thrown all our good intentions overboard and by the end of January our lives are pretty much where they were this time last year.
It’s a fact that on average 90 % of all New Year’s Resolutions fail. So why even bother, I hear you ask. The answer: because with the right tools you can beat the trend, become part of the 10% and make your goals a reality.
Here at APDO we have come up with a 10 step plan that will guide through the goal setting and more importantly the goal achieving process. If you follow the steps you are increasing your chances for success exponentially.
1. Write it down
The most important part of goal setting is putting your goal(s) in writing, ideally on paper. Something magical happens when we put pen or pencil to paper, our thoughts become clearer and we become more focused. Time management guru Brian Tracy always says “Think on paper”; it’s one of his mantras.
Another advantage of writing your goals down is that you can put them in a place where you can always see them as a daily reminder of what you want to achieve.
2. Choose goals for different areas
Your life is not just one unified thing; it consists many different areas. There are Family and Home, Financial and Career, Spiritual and Ethical, Physical and Health, Social and Cultural, and Mental and Educational.
Review each of these areas and decide whether there are changes you want to make in each or in some of them. This will ensure that your life is balanced and you are not concentrating on one area only while neglecting others.
3. Decide on only a few goals at a time
Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to accomplish too many things at once. We can only focus on a few things at a time then overwhelm sets in. If you try to stop smoking, lose 20 pounds, get organised, get a new job, sort out the garage, find a romantic match, eat more healthily and sort out your finances all at the same time, you are almost certainly going to fail. If you, however, tackle these issues two or three at a time, you are much more likely to follow through and succeed.
4. Shoot for the moon
Have you heard the saying: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll still land among the stars?” In the context of goal setting it means that if you set your goals higher than you initially think you’ll be able to achieve, you are not setting yourself up for failure but for achieving more than you originally imagined. This doesn’t mean that you should aim for unrealistically high goals. But keep them just outside your comfort zone and you’ll find that your motivation will increase to see if you can’t reach them after all.
5. Make your goals S.M.A.R.T
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym and it stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time bound.
Specific relates to the details of your goal. Be as specific as you can. Create a vision in your mind what success looks like and write down the specifics.
Measurable: We only know whether we have succeeded if we can somehow measure the success. It’s part of the details, but see if you can attach some kind of number to your goal.
Make your goals Actionable. What action can you take to create the outcome you want? Goals with “being” or “having” are trickier to pin down.
Realistic: We already discussed this in the previous subheading. Don’t make your goals unachievable but a bit of a stretch outside of your comfort zone.
Time bound: Give yourself a deadline. You are only going to create any sort of motivation if you attach a deadline to your goals, otherwise you’ll find yourself drifting and you won’t reach what you set out to achieve.
Below are some examples of how you can make your goals SMARTer. Ideally your goals contain all five characteristics.
|Instead of this||Try this|
|Specific||Eat more healthily.||Eat at least 5 portions of fruit or vegetables per day.|
|Measurable||Lose weight.||Lose 20 pounds.|
|Actionable||Be more organised.||Create a system to never forget a birthday again.|
|Realistic||Play for Premier League football club.||Play every Sunday afternoon for local football team.|
|Time bound||Have more savings.||Have savings of £1,000 by 31st December 2016.|
6. Word it positively
Go for what you want, not what you want to leave behind. Goals are not just useful as a conscious sign post in which direction to go but they’re a great tool for our subconscious to get instructions. And our subconscious doesn’t really understand negative instructions. If your goals include to “get out of debt” your subconscious reads “debt” and works towards it – not what you’re trying to do at all! Find out what action steps you need to take to get out of debt. These are your goals.
7. Break down larger goals
Some goals are definitely achievable and realistic but they are very large and will take you a long time. Seeing the end game so far in the future can be disheartening and demotivating and you might give up too soon. Break down your goals into smaller sub-goals and reward yourself for achieving them. This will motivate you to keep going.
8. Make a plan
Some goals are complex and require a variety of action steps to achieve them. Write out an action plan so you know what you need to do and when. This will keep you on track and motivated.
9. Review regularly
Keep your goals in front of you, somewhere you can see them every day. Once a week, go through your goals, make sure you’re on track, your goals are still relevant, ticking off goals you might already have achieved and maybe even setting new goals. Sunday evening might be a good time to do this, so you are ready and full of inspiration for the upcoming week. You could also decide which tasks you are going to incorporate during the upcoming week into your daily to do lists that will move you closer to your goals.
10. Slip ups don’t mean failure
As we’re all human, slip ups happen and if you review your goals regularly you will notice quite quickly whether you have fallen behind. This is no reason whatsoever to give up. Simply get back on the horse, the wagon or whatever metaphor suits your goals. Don’t beat yourself up, nobody is perfect, simply get back on track.
You might want to create some ICAs (In Case Actions), actions you are going to do in case you slip up. If you are trying to lose weight for instance, you could add some more workout time after a particularly indulgent dinner. If you are trying to save up and fall behind your savings plan, maybe you could sell something on eBay and put the extra money in your savings account. Simply think of a few new ways to reach your goals.
You now have all you need for successfully reaching your New Year’s Resolutions. Let’s make 2016 your best year yet!