I hope you had wonderful holidays, spent it with family and people
you care about, and that you stepped into 2002 happy, healthy,
and ready to have a great year!!!
I donít know if you are the New Yearís resolution type but, whether
or not you set resolutions on New Yearís Eve, goal setting in
general is a good habit to have. Why donít more people set goals,
then? Here are some interesting statistics quoted by the USA
Today from an issue just before December 31st. According to
latest estimates by leading psychologists, hereís what now
happens to New Yearís resolutions: 25% are broken in the first
week. 50% are broken in the first month. 80% or more later.
I guess that Paretoís 80/20 principle is at work again, huh?
(20% of the people accomplish 80% of the results, the remaining
80% of people accomplish the remaining 20% of the results.)
I would not be surprised if the exact same statistics applied to
goal setting in general "itís just that itís likely easier to survey
around the time when so many people do actually set goals.
So, how do you get to be one of the 20% (or less) of those who,
instead of saying "naaaah, I got busy with other things, I don't
have time for such nonsense", get to be able to give an
enthusiastic "yeah, I'm right on track!" Unfortunately, will-power
and good intentions are usually not enough, so here are ten
of my main goal-setting rules that will help you choose a
resolution and stay on track with it. All of these have been
field-tested with my own goals and with my clients.
1. Set only one big resolution or up to three smaller
resolutions for a 90-day period. A "big"
resolution would be something like quitting smoking after
having smoked for 30 years. A small resolution would be
something like increasing exercise time from two times a
week to three times a week. Each change requires focus
on your part. The more resolutions you set, the harder it is
to fit them into your life.
2. Set a resolution that will stretch you, but not one that
will paralyze you. Going from a couch
potato to Michael Jordan's exercise schedule is completely
unrealistic and will likely lead to failure. It's better to be an achieving resolution-setting wimp than to be a failed resolution-setting hero.
3. Know why you are setting the resolution.
Make sure it's congruent with who you are and what you
really want in life. If it is for someone else or to
look good, do not set it. It is better for your self-confidence not to
set a resolution than to set it and break it. I know that in our society, there are some goals which society hails as important ones so
you may feel pressure to set such goals. Financial success and
a slim body are two examples of many. If a society-driven goal
isnít important to you, donít pretend it is. Set a resolution that is
about what you really want.
4. Set and write down a specific outcome for 90 days from the
date of your resolution. Deadlines
(especially written-down deadlines!) and clarity focus the mind.
If it were not for exams, most of us would have learned little in
school. Something in the mind may be a dream, but it becomes
more real and more attainable when you put it down on paper.
5. Work back to your starting date to figure out specific milestones.
If you want to lose 25 pounds in 90
days, you can target to set 5 pounds in the first month, 10 pounds
in the second and third month. Small steps (monthly, weekly,
daily) make a big goal seem more doable.
6. Schedule your time and resources that you will need to
reach the outcome. If at all possible,
make this specific and regular, so that it fits into your schedule.
For example, "exercising three times a week" becomes, "a gym
appointment on Monday and Wednesday at 6 pm, and
Saturday at 10 am".
7. Be accountable for your progress on weekly basis to
someone other than yourself. Get
yourself a resolution buddy, a coach, or join a group (such as
an exercise class) to help you stay on track. You may hate
your friend for a few minutes after dragging you out of bed on
Saturday morning, but you will thank them when you begin to
look and feel great!
8. Do a vision poster or some other visual representation
of your goal. A vision poster is
simply a collage made from magazines, or a drawing that
depicts what you want in your life (for the long term or just for
the next 90 days). For example, if you want to lose weight, you
might cut out a picture of a slim body from a magazine and put
a picture of your head on top of it. You can also put the number
of your desired weight on the picture. The mind thinks in pictures
and this is a great way to get it the subconscious to work for
you rather than against you
9. Use affirmations to your benefit. This is a little
kooky for some people, but it works remarkably well so it has a
well-deserved place among these tips. An affirmation is simply
a word representation of what you see your life like once your
goal is accomplished. Itís stated in the present tense, as a
specific and positive statement. Kind of like a vision poster
in words. "I now weigh 140 lbs." "I am now making $100,000
per year." "I now have a new job that I love." Whatever the
words are, write them down at least three times in the morning
before you start going about. Again, this helps to focus your
mind on what you want. Reserve your judgement about their
effectiveness until after you have used them for at least 30 days.
10. Keep a gratitude journal. At the end of each day,
write down what you did that day towards your goal. No
matter how small the action may have been, write it down.
"I had a job interview." "I browsed through a job website and
picked two jobs to apply for." "I rewrote my resume." In goal
setting, people often fail because they focus on where they
did not measure up and so they give up trying. By building
up a "success account", you can afford to take a withdrawal
here and there without feeling like a failure. More than that,
as you see your success account grow, you will feel great
about yourself and about the steps youíre taking. Success
tends to breed more success!
In some ways, these tips are simple, and yet "simple" doesnít
necessarily mean "easy". Goal setting, in my experience, isnít
so much about being smart and clever. It is, though, about
doing the right things enough times that the goal is reached.
Just like in nature, if a farmer wants something to harvest
in the fall, thereíd better be some seeds planted in the spring,
and then some regular watering done all through the spring
and the summer. Best of luck to you with whatever you
decide your goals to be for 2002!
"A man who wants to do something will find a way; a man who doesnít
will find an excuse."
Stephen Dolley, Jr.
"It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and impossible to
find it elsewhere." Agnes Repplier