Many people choose to revise their life vision by setting resolutions for the new year.
A resolution is nothing more than a personal resolve to achieve a goal.
Goals are great! They enable us to achieve personal growth and enable evolution.
But, if we are all faithfully resolving to achieve our best self each year, why are only about 8% of us successful with what we desire to achieve?
What do those 8% of do differently that helps them achieve their goals successfully?
First of all, part of the problem, is that for many of us, New Year's Eve or there about, is the only time we are stopping to address our goals.
The most successful among us, use their goal setting and achievement to propel them through life, and manage roadblocks more efficiently when encountered. Are some of us just lucky in this way? I think not! Let's look at some of the reasons why some people are more successful with what they set out to accomplish than others.
1. They Have SMART Goals - While this may sound obvious, it's true that most of us don't even bother setting goals and fewer of us make them SMART. Rather than set a goal to lose some weight, a SMART goal has several components.
- Specific - I want to lose 20 lbs. this year is much more specific than I want to lose weight.
- Measurable - A measurable goal, is one that we can measure to track our progress. By adding "twenty pounds" to our goal, we can measure our success as we progress. Each month, I can weigh in and see how well my weight loss journey is going and adjust course as needed.
- Action-Oriented - This is the accountability piece of the smart goal that makes a goal, rather than a wish. Action Oriented means we outline the steps we are going to take to achieve the goal. I want to lose weight by exercising daily and eating whole foods is even more specific and it describes the actions I will take to achieve my goal.
- Realistic - Realistic goals are ones that are reasonably achieved with some effort. An example of a goal that is not reasonable; I want to lose 50 lbs by next month. While it is specific, and measurable, it is not realistic or even healthy. While weight loss is something that progresses different for each of us, trying to lose 50 lbs. in30 days is not realistic. While we don't want our goals to be too easy, we also need them to be realistic. If we set off setting unrealistic goals, we are not very likely to be successful. Keeping our goals realistic, gives us something to strive for, with the possibility of success.
- Time Bound - In the example we have been using, weight loss, our smart goal established a time frame for the weight loss, by saying we wish to achieve this weight loss in the next year. By putting a time frame on it, we have another layer of accountability, a frame of reference to aim for.
2. They Write Down Their Goals or Create a Vision Board - While creating a vision board my seem cliche, people who are most successful with their goals often write them down or put a visual display, like a vision board in a prominent place in their lives. The idea here is that if the goal is front and center, you are more likely to remember it. By writing it down, or creating a vision board around a goal, it provides a visual reminder that can guide our daily decisions. When faced with a difficult choice, a vision goal or written memoir of your goals will help you choose. Does this action bring me closer to my goal or take me farther away from it? This is really getting at the heart of why we want to achieve this goal in the first place. A vision gives us something to strive for, to remind us why we choose the way we do and helps us keep our focus on the prize.
3. They revisit their goals frequently - The people who are most successful in achieving their goals, revisit those goals on a regular basis. They don't set a goal on a New Year's Eve whim and forget all about it until the next new year. Successful people choose a goal and design their lives around achieving it rather than wait for luck or circumstances. When luck does come knocking, successful people are prepared to seize the opportunity, because they have been reviewing their goals and adjusting course the whole way.
4. They Take Action - SMART Goals, as we mentioned are action oriented. I don't wish to lose weight and it just falls off, I have to take some action, some accountability in the journey. In the example we have been using, losing weight, Our smart goal outlined that we would exercise daily and eat whole foods. The specificity of smart goals is helpful, because we actually have to think about the steps we will take to achieve them. When I revisit my weight loss goal, regularly, I am not just stepping on the scale, but, I also monitor the actions I am taking. How many days did I eat whole foods? How many days did I exercise? Intentions are one thing, but without follow through and action, they are more like wishes than goals.
5. They Break Their Goals down - Continuing with our weight loss example, we aim to lose 20 lbs. in one year. But we didn't just stop there, we talked about how we are going to achieve that weight loss, by eating whole foods and exercising daily. As mentioned above it isn't a singular goal, but a series of small goals that become habits and habits that build success. I might aim to exercise daily to achieve weight loss, but if I have been sedentary for the past few years, trying to go from no exercise, to daily exercise might be a reach to far right out of the gate. So I may aim to achieve three times per week initially. Once I have successfully integrated that new habit into my life, I am more likely to be successful adding additional days.
6. They Prepare for Roadblocks - The beauty in the smart goal is that its specificity requires us to really think about not only what we are trying to achieve, but how we are going to achieve it. We have to plan our way from our current state to our desired state with incremental and reasonable steps. In doing so, we more than likely have thought through any challenges we may encounter, and we are more likely to have a plan to meet any challenges that arise. When we only think about our goals once a year, we probably haven't given them the amount of thought that allows us to prepare. When we are prepared on the other hand, we are less likely to get derailed by the roadblocks we will inevitably encounter along the way.
7. They Adjust Course - Building on the SMART Goal, that specifically outlines how we plan to accomplish our goal, the most successful among us are monitoring their efforts from the outset. They track how many times they exercise; they know how many glasses of water they drank, they know how often they work out and what keeps them from implementing these new habits. Armed with all that information, they ditch any new habit or process that no longer serves them or is no longer working for them. We tend to cling to the familiar. But goals by their very nature encourage evolution, progress and growth. In order to be successful with our SMART Goals, we have to be willing to throw out anything that is no longer working for us, without clinging to old habits and beliefs that no longer serve the highest version of themselves, they are striving to be. Flexibility is the key to evolution.
8. They hold themselves accountable - Changing our habits to enable long-term change is hard. Commitment to action requires vigilance and dedication, which requires holding ourselves accountable for the goals we wish to achieve. To be clear, this isn't about beating themselves up when the have a slip or backtrack, but accountability requires that we honestly assess what is working and what isn't and adjusting course. No one knows you better than you. No one can guide you to success, better than you. Accountability requires that we recognize our success depends on action. We start with one small habit and stack more habits on top until we achieve success. Accountability also means not getting sidelined by unsuccessful attempts at our goals, but that we have the resources to evaluate what went wrong and taking action to prevent the same problem in the future. Accountability means standing up after we fall and dusting ourselves off and adjusting course.
Now that you know some of the keys to setting successful goals, you are more equipped to set your "resolutions."
Change is hard, but so worth it when we reach the finish line.
Oh one more thing, successful people don't have a finish line, each goal stacking on top of the next, leading them to even greater success and better destinations. To summarize, they set specific goals that inspire them to be successful, they write SMART Goals that are specific, measurable, action-oriented, Reasonable and Time Bound. They create a detailed strategic plan to help them accomplish their goals, by breaking them down into achievable action steps. They Know exactly what steps to take. They are prepared for roadblocks and have a plan to work around them. But they don't get off track when they make a mistake.
Maybe we should reframe our thinking, Life is hard, change is constant and planning, preparation and inspired action will help you achieve success, whatever your goal is. When you are prepared, you are ready to seize any opportunity that presents itself. When the time is right, We are ready to take advantage of momentum and capitalize on our strengths.
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