Change Your Approach to Goal Setting for Better Results
In the timeless lyrics by John Lennon, another year is over and a new one’s just begun.
We as a society seem to have agreed that the new year is the time to give ourselves and our lives a makeover. And while I’m a big believer in lifelong learning, personal growth and professional development, I’m not a big fan of new year’s resolutions. The main reason is that there isn’t much evidence that they work – at least not in the way most of us approach them.
If you have important goals for the coming year, or if you’ve struggled to achieve what you set out to in the past, the good news is that there are simple, effective techniques that do work. These are powerful whether you’ve got big changes to make or your life is pretty good and you’re ready to take it up a notch.
I am doing something a little different in this month’s blog to kick off the new year. I’m doing this because studies show that by the end of January almost half of those who’ve made New Year’s Resolutions will have already given up on them.
I want you to be successful at achieving your goals in the new year!
To that end I have created a five-week series that will give you a different approach. I will post one step for you each week during the month of January. This is designed to help you set a solid foundation with actionable steps to achieve your goals. After January is over, I will go back to the regularly scheduled blog with twice monthly articles full of inspiration and ideas to help you make your success real.
The five steps I will share enable you to connect the dots between your dreams, ambitions and vision and your daily actions, habits and beliefs. This gives you a solid foundation and clarity of vision along with the follow-through that’s key to bring your dreams to fruition. I invite you to commit a few minutes each week this month to set yourself up for success as you define it this year. To be sure you don’t miss a week, simply drop your email in here.
Why resolutions aren’t very effective
Studies show that almost half of us here in the United States make New Year’s resolutions yet only about 8% of those who make resolutions succeed in achieving them. In other words, less than 3% of the total population are achieving their goals. Yet we also know that people who set specific goals are 8-10 times more likely to achieve their goals than those who don’t. So what gives?
It’s not just that there isn’t much evidence that new year’s resolutions work over the long term. We also tend to resolve to change everything we aren’t satisfied with at once. This approach sets us up for disappointment. It is incredibly powerful to re-assess yourself and explore changes you wish to make. But when we make all-encompassing or unrealistic resolutions with no clear plan to achieve them, we’re not setting ourselves up for success.
On top of that, the things we set out to change are often big things that involve a series of smaller steps. It’s not as simple as saying: “I want to lose weight” or “I plan to increase sales by 30%” or “I resolve to get into shape.” These are big goals and so we need to break them down into manageable steps to increase our chances of success.
It’s a very different process to take stock of where you are, to ask how you want to feel and act differently – so that you can bring your best out at work and live a more satisfying life. This is where your intentions and commitments come in.
I invite you to carve out 10-15 minutes this week to set your intentions and make clear commitments for your year. This is a great time to push the reset button: to reconnect with your mind and spirit and to find those practices that will support your goals. Here’s how to start:
Your Best Year Step One: Be Strategic
What do you want the theme of your life to be this year? What are the most important things for you to achieve or complete or experience? How do these support your vision and dreams?
Often we set goals that are disconnected from our overall desire for our lives. For instance, it’s easy to set goals at work without considering the impact to our health, our free time or our relationships. Or to set goals at work that aren’t in fact aligned with organizational priorities. Or to set goals to exercise more or have a healthier diet but never really translate them into habits that become routine over time.
When we set goals in this disjointed fashion, we’re setting up conflict from the start. So we need to be more strategic.
In order to do this, you’ll want to first have a clear vision for your year. This is the foundation that you’ll come back to when you’re making decisions about what to do – and what not to do – throughout the months ahead.
To get clear on your overarching theme for the year, ask yourself three questions:
- Who do you want to be? Perhaps you want to be a person who is fully engaged so you feel more energized and alive. Perhaps you want to be happier, to experience more joy or fulfillment each day. Or perhaps you’re committed to being a businessperson of integrity and character so that you show respect for yourself and others around you. How is that you want to show up this year?
- How do you want to grow? Perhaps you’d like to get a new professional certification or take a course that will advance your knowledge or skillset. Perhaps you’d like to travel somewhere you’ve never been to expand your horizons. Perhaps you’re committed to a new level of personal growth via a course, a new daily routine or working with a coach or mentor. Maybe you’d like to learn and put into place a different diet or exercise program for yourself. What do you want to learn and how will you grow this year?
- How do you want to relate? Maybe you want to relate in a new way at work by taking more time to truly connect with your colleagues so the entire team is motivated to contribute more. Maybe you want to develop a greater understanding of your customer’s needs so that your products and services are more aligned with the market. Perhaps you want to experience more meaningful relationships with those that are closest to you. Or perhaps you want to relate to yourself in a new way this year. How will you relate this year?
As you review these questions, ask yourself what commitments will move you toward your most important goals? If you could describe your year in 2-3 overarching themes, what would they be? This will become your strategic vision for your work and your life this year.
Having your big picture in mind will not only inspire you to make exciting commitments and changes where needed, but it will also help you with the tactical decisions about what actions you do – and do not – take this year.
Keep in mind that when you are on the threshold of making changes, it can be supportive to talk about your thoughts, goals and feelings with a trusted friend, family member, colleague, or even with a skilled professional who can help you make sense of what is going on – as well as what approaches are most effective to help you achieve what you’ve set out to do.
For a little extra motivation and to make sure you don’t miss a step in this five-part series: drop your email in here. Each week the next step will be delivered to your inbox.
You can also learn more about me, read more blog posts, download free tips to create a business and a life you love, or check out the stories of people who have worked with me.