Unfortunately by now many of the goals and promises we made for the new year or now broken, forgotten or revised. Why is that? Because we are conditioned to look ahead, to get better, to want more and to improve. Get the latest gadget! Work Harder! Lose five pounds in two weeks! The focus is usually on major things like what you can change, upgrade or do differently. The involve breaking old habits or establishing new ones and that does not happen over night.
To help increase your chance of achieving your goals in 2014 I suggest two key strategies for goal setting: Continuing what is working and short-term review of goals. The first is to start by looking back at the past year and reflect on what is working well, what you are most proud of, and what you want to keep doing. This approach helps to focus on what is working, what we want like and want to keep doing, or remember things we used to do but don’t seem to do any more. This approach avoids the grandiose goals of “get healthy”, “work less” or “have more balance in my life”. All wonderful outcomes of goals but we need the structure of how and why to achieve these results, which doesn’t fit into a tweet or text message. The “How and Why” of a goal is necessary. We need to define the action in order to achieve success.
The second key is to have a short term focus, with more frequent check-ins to see if our goals are still relevant and if progress is happening. Unlike most work goals, our personal goals are not as time bound and therefore they can fall off our radar. We need to find a way to keep ourselves accountable.
Do this quick exercise to create your goals and a system of check-ins to keep you moving towards your goals.
- 1. Start by writing down what you are really proud of accomplishing in 2013.
- 2. Ask yourself, what do I want to keep doing this year that I found enjoyable or what has been working for me?
- 3. Review these items and ask yourself “Why” do I want to keep doing these things?
- 4. Add 2 to 4 new goals for the year? Jot down a few steps on How you will specifically go about taking steps or actions towards accomplishing these goals now?
- 5. If you are able to come up with reasons then ask yourself, How will I feel when I have accomplished them.
- 6. Put these goals in a safe place. Tell at least one person what you are trying to achieve.
- 7. Around St.Patrick’s Day in mid-March check in on your goals. Assess how they are going? Make adjustments.
Setting short-term goals increase your chance of ultimately achieving what your want. It keeps you on track and feeling successful. Frequent check ins around the holidays through the year keeps your goals on your radar and provides regular opportunities toadd, remove, or revise your goals. All of these things keep your goals relevant. The more relevant the more likely you are to keep taking steps to achieve your goals.
With each new day we find that the world has changed a little; on some days it’s changed a lot. Often that change creates uncertainty; a subtle discomfort that comes from not knowing what’s going to happen next.
During times like these the greatest confidence builder available to you is having a written goal. A written goal has the power to transcend the mixed emotions that are triggered by change and it gives you a stable point on which to focus.
Often when I ask someone if they have goals they instinctively say, “Yes.” When I ask them if they are written and up-to-date the answer is most often, “No.” The challenge with just carrying your goals around in your head is that there is a lot of other stuff in there demanding your attention. A good long-range goal is not urgent enough to compete with things like say paying your bills today or showing up for work on time. Things that are urgent and immediate almost always get more attention than the less-crucial activities that are necessary to reach your big goals.
If you are not producing the outcomes you desire in your life start today by taking the time to make a list of the things you would like to accomplish over the next 90 days. In addition, be sure to invest your time and energy daily in transforming those goals into reality.
Remember that a goal cannot be raised in the same place in which it was conceived; you must move it from your head and place it into your hands. Life does not reward you for what you intend to do it can only respond to what you actually do. All goals require action in order to avoid becoming the idle wishes of a dream-junkie; someone addicted to wanting more than that for which they are willing to work.
With a clear written direction and destination the winds of change will serve as the power you need to move forward. Without a clear written direction and destination, the winds of change will cause you to drift in an ocean of uncertainty.
You probably have a lot of goals that you would like to achieve, whether they relate to your business, your brand, your health, or something else in your life. Obviously, the desire to achieve a goal is usually not enough, and many of us need a clear plan to get there.
Here are two different ways to map out your goals:
I’ve gone into detail about SMART goals before in this post, but here’s a reminder of what SMART goals are:
- Specific: Clearly define your target or end result. Avoid being vague and instead think about the who, what, where, when, why and how of your goal.
- Measurable: Think about the numbers associated with your goal. How will you measure success?
- Action-oriented: Develop a plan of action in order to achieve your goal. Make it as specific as possible.
- Realistic: Make sure your goal is possible and reachable. You can always make additional goals once you’ve reached your initial result.
- Time-bound: Set a deadline to motivate yourself towards change.
SMART goals can help you on your path to success—and so can HARD goals. This tactic, coined by Mark Murphy in HARD GOALS: The Secrets to Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (McGraw-Hill), taps into an individual’s emotional, visual, survival, and learning systems – enabling you to visualize what you need to achieve.
- Heartfelt: Develop deep-seated and heartfelt attachments to your goals on levels that are intrinsic, personal and extrinsic. Use these connections to naturally increase the motivational power you put behind making your goals happen.
- Animated: Create goals that are so vividly alive in your mind that to not reach them would leave you wanting. Use visualization and imagery techniques to sear your goal firmly into your brain including perspective, size, color, shape, distinct parts, setting, background, lighting, emotions and movement.
- Required: Give procrastination (which kills far too many goals) the boot. Convince yourself and others of the absolute necessity of your goals and make the future payoffs of your goals appear far more satisfying than what you can get today. This will make your HARD Goals look a whole lot more attractive and amp up your urgency to get going on them right now.
- Difficult: Construct goals that are optimally challenging to tap into your own personal sweet spot of difficulty. Access past experiences to use them to position you for extraordinary performance. Identify your goal setting comfort zone and push past it in order to attain the stellar results you want.
Murphy discovered that goal success isn’t determined by daily habits, raw intellect, or writing numbers on a worksheet, and that it actually depends on the engagement of your brain. HARD goals can help you do that.
Goal setting is the process you use to set your direction in life. You have a goal when you go to school — get an education. You have a goal when your child tries out for travel sports — make the team. By setting goals on a routine basis you decide what you want to achieve, and then move toward that achievement.
By knowing precisely what it is you want, you know what you have to concentrate on to get it.
Goal setting is a technique used by all top-level athletes — you can bet every athlete in Sochi has a goal and has been working toward it for years. Studies have shown that goal setting improves performance and success in all areas of your life. You adhere to the plan you set forth because you have a goal. The goals you set give you long-term vision and short-term motivation. Without goals, we flounder. The best way to get great results is to have strong and effective goals.
• Express your goals positively: “Run strong and light on your feet” is a much better goal than “Don’t come in last.”
• Be precise, including dates, times and amounts so that you can measure achievement. I always tell athletes we can improve what we can measure. If you do this, you will know exactly when you have achieved a goal, and can take satisfaction from it.
• Set priorities. When you have several goals, give each a priority. This helps to avoid feeling overwhelmed by too many goals, and helps to direct your attention to the most important ones.
• Write goals down. This clarifies them and gives them more force. Post goals where you can see them and read them daily to keep them fresh in your mind.
• Set performance goals, not outcome goals. Set goals over which you have as much control as possible. There is nothing more disappointing than failing to achieve a personal goal for reasons beyond your control. If you base your goals on personal performance, then you can keep control over the achievement regardless of the weather, an injury or just bad luck.
• Be realistic. It is important to set goals that are challenging but also that you can realistically achieve with hard work. Conversely …
• Do not set goals too low. Just as it is important not to set goals unrealistically high, do not set them too low either. People tend to do this where they are afraid of failure or when they are being just plain lazy. Be honest with yourself, you should set goals so that they are slightly out of your immediate reach, but not so far that there is no hope of achieving them.
Why The 1% Achieve Their Resolutions
With the new year rolling around, most of us are planning ways to improve our health, set some big goals, and finally achieve things we have been putting off for a while.
But when you look at the statistics, almost 80% of people will fail by the springtime, and after a year, only a smaller percentage of people are still involved with their goals at all.
So here’s how to be that tiny percentage of people that are still going strong a year later.
#1 Follow intrinsic motivation… rather than forcing yourself.
Let me ask you this: do you think the typical person who just begins working out during the new year will still be exercising if:
- They’re intrinsically motivated (they like it)
- They’re forcing themselves to do it by using rewards (money/food), punishments, etc.
Can you guess which one?
The first! Not only are intrinsically motivated people more likely to be persistent (no kidding, they actually like it), they’re also more likely to be successful in the long run.
Although your friend may be slimming down quicker than you after spending 5 hours a week pounding it out in the gym, see if they’re still exercising in 1-2 years when it really matters. Many people that rely on extrinsic motivation won’t still be there!
Tip #1: Follow your intrinsic motivation. If it’s something you really don’t like (e.g. exercise) find something that is somewhat related (that you like) and go with that. You’re much more likely to do it long-term.
#2 Create positive snowballs.
Think back to when you were a kid.
Did you do sports? Did you hate sports?
So much of what we become in life is related to what we experienced as a first impression – for some people, joining the sports team meant embarrassment, or going to history class meant being bored, or math class was associated with misery and pain.
Sometimes it’s the first impression that determines the future impressions in life.
So if you had a horrible first impression, you’re unlikely to want to keep following through with whatever it is.
It’s like dating – did the first date go well? Yeah? Then you’re likely to go on a second, right?
Did it not go well? Then you’re not likely to go on a second.
Here’s where this matters for you: If you create new habits, and make them so insanely easy that you accomplish them every time (and leave in a good mood), you’re creating what’s called a “positive snowball” in your brain.
All this means is that you’re keeping a positive mental impression of this habit. So rather than exercising for an hour on day one, exercise for five minutes. Make it so easy you laugh afterwards, like it was a joke. Make it so easy that you’re in a crazy good mood after.
The secret is to set goals so tiny that you easily reach them, and you maintain a positive mood after. That is what will continue powering you all year.
Think about the opposite now. What happens to those people who start exercising seven hours a week on week one in the new year?
They usually burn out and quit, right? Baby steps are the key to maintaining motivation and the positive snowball effect.
Tip #2: Create a positive snowball effect by taking the tiniest steps possible with your new habits – so that every time you “complete” your habit, you are in a good mood and maintain a favorable attitude towards it.
#3 Program habits… not effort
Okay, so now you know how to get a positive snowball going. You’re going to stay motivated much more easy.
But there’s another problem: using effort and discipline to keep yourself going.
Effort and discipline vary based on the person, the day, and even the time of the month, so they really aren’t reliable strategies to rely on for success.
Instead, focus on changing your habits.
Here’s an example:
Say you want to start meditating in the new year. You realize how good it is for you, and maybe you’ve been to a yoga class and you really could use some de-stressing throughout the day.
Rather than forcing yourself to meditate every day, go with the science of habit change.
Each habit first needs a trigger.
So your trigger could be a number of things: A. Walking in the door right when you get home, B. Going on your lunch break, C. Brushing your teeth, or something else.
Say you want to use brushing your teeth as a trigger.
For 10 days, every time you brush your teeth, you then go sit down on the edge of your bed for three minutes. Just three minutes! You’re not forcing yourself to stay there a long time, and you’re not forcing the habit.
After a while, once you brush your teeth, you will begin craving the meditation. You have programmed your brain. You will anticipate what’s coming next – three minutes of sitting quietly on your brain. Now your body and brain have linked the two behaviors together as a habit.
Tip #3: Create new habits, rather than forcing yourself to rely on discipline, willpower, and effort.
#4 Automatic accountability.
We all know accountability is the secret to success, right?
It’s much easier to go to the gym with a close friend, than it is to go alone and rely on yourself to get out of bed early in the morning (or late at night, if that’s all you’ve got).
But the science tells us there’s another way.
In one study, researchers found that by reminding people every two weeks about their goals, people could double the time they regularly exercised over the course of 12 months.
So just by sending a quick reminder, they would go from exercising an average of 1 hour and 40 minutes a week, to almost 3 hours a week.
Here’s the kicker: it didn’t matter if the correspondence was by a real person or an automated message.
Use a free service like memotome to send automated emails to yourself in the future as reminders.
So the very act of sending brief reminders (accountability) is almost just as effective as actually talking to a person.
Tip #4: Either make an accountability circle with a friend, or program an automated message to email you every two weeks. It will double, triple or quadruple your ability to stick with your goals.
#5 Be happy, first… not later.
In the west, we have this notion that once we achieve our goals, we will then be happy.
But research suggests the opposite – that happier people tend to be more motivated, more resilient to stress, and more likely to achieve their goals.
So although you may be putting a ton of pressure on yourself to achieve your goals, and thinking you’ll be happy “when,” fight the urge and do whatever it takes to be happy now. You will be much more likely to achieve your goals, and even if you don’t, you’ll be happy in the process.
The key is to stay happy regardless of whether or not you reach your health goals – because if you fail, you can pick yourself up again and get started once more. But if you’ve told yourself you won’t be happy unless you achieve your goal… and you didn’t reach your goal, now you’re stuck with a massive mental setback.
Be happy first, and you will be more likely to reach those New Year’s goals.
Tip #5 Be happy first… and stay happy regardless of what stage you are in achieving your goals, and whether or not you reach them. Being happy makes you more likely to get “there” and also makes you more resilient in the face of stress and setbacks.
When I announced to my family and friends that I was moving to California to help people achieve their dreams, they looked at me like I had lost my mind. They said things like, “You used to be so credible. Can’t you call this goal setting?” Although I agree that goals are essential to making your dreams come true, there is a very different energy around dreams.
People have more passion and juice when a dream is involved. Dreaming forces you to swing outside of just being realistic. At a certain point, it is essential to move from dreams to goals, but if you go to goal setting and strategy too soon, you’ll probably compromise your dreams down to what you know you can realistically accomplish. Dreams often allow for more creativity and imagination.
Ask yourself these questions: If time and money weren’t issues, what would you do? If you had the support of the people around you to do what you truly want, what would that be? And, if you knew you could not fear, what would you pursue? How do you tell the difference between a dream and a goal?
Goals and projects have specific due dates. A dream that never becomes a goal often remains a fantasy or nice idea. When you only set goals based on what you know, you may limit yourself and the possibilities of your most heartfelt dreams.
Dream first by getting your ideas, needs, wants, hopes and desires all down on paper. Put into your dreams everything that you want and leave out what you don’t want. Next, break big or long-term dreams down into projects that can easily be accomplished in one month or less.
Why a month? It’s a long enough time to produce a real result but also short enough to keep your passion ignited. This is critical for accomplishing your dreams.
Use goals and projects with specific and measurable results to track your progress and ensure success. But start with your dreams to follow your heart.