We are now 4 weeks into the new year. At this point in time you’re probably starting to forget what your new years resolutions were, what your goals were for the year or you might be starting to lose your motivation for achieving them.
I wanted to write this post as a timely reminder that all you need to do is to implement a few specific strategies that will help you stick to your goals, remain motivated and ensure you achieve them.
At the start of the New Year most people take the opportunity to set themselves a New Year’s resolution or set some goals for the next 12 months. Unfortunately, 92% of new years goals are not achieved.
Most people start out with good intent to achieve their goals for the year, but we have all felt what I like to call the ‘third-week dip’ where the motivation starts to drift, other priorities start creeping in and the accountability for your goal gets lost.
The good thing is, there are some key principles that, based on scientific research have proven to help individuals in actually attaining their goals.
Below are 5 common goal-setting mistakes and how you can avoid them.
1) The goal is not written down.
A study conducted in 2008 at Dominican University concluded that those who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not write their goals. Other studies both before and after this research have concluded the same thing.
Writing down your goals actually makes your goal real and tangible. When we have our goal only in our thoughts, we are not setting ourselves to be accountable for what we want to achieve. We may not necessarily be setting ourselves a specific timeframe and we can lose track of what the original goal actually was as our thoughts change over time.
Take Action Now: If you haven’t yet physically written your goals down, spend 10 minutes now writing your goals onto something that you can refer to regularly (I write my goals in a word or excel file).
2) The goal is not linked to any higher purpose
When you set New Year’s resolutions or goals for the year, do you think about what the higher purpose is of why you want to achieve it?
Understanding the ‘why’ you aim to achieve something is the driving force behind actually going ahead and doing it. The ‘why’ creates the determination, motivation and the persistence to actually make it a reality.
Perhaps your goal is to get a promotion this year. You need to ask yourself the question ‘why?’ The answer may be that it will enable you to place your son or daughter into a higher-status school. This provides the driving force behind actually making you take action to see your goal come alive. Most people lack this link which is why their goals are not achieved.
Have you heard of the ‘5 Whys’ technique? I absolutely love this. Let me explain..
A common goal or news years resolution is to ‘lose weight’. Again, ask yourself ‘why’ this is important? Is it for confidence? Again, ask yourself why confidence is important to you. Is it because confidence can lead to enhanced relationships? Again, ask yourself why this is important to you… etc etc. By asking yourself why over and over again you can drill down to what is the higher purpose or real meaning for you wanting to achieve something. This will build your emotional commitment to your goal.
Take Action Now: Looking over your goals for the year, use the ‘5 Whys’ technique to truly understand what is driving you move towards that goal.
3) There is a lack of strategy
When it comes to goal-setting, I love talking about strategy. Nobody else seems to consider this concept however it is so crucially important.
Your strategy is all about setting yourself up for success by creating the right environment. You need to create a strategy of ensuring you reach your goals. Your strategy includes things such as defining who is in your support network, how will you track your progress, what will you do to maintain motivation when you start to see it drift, where/who can you learn from and what other resources can help you in achieving your goal.
Your strategy is your tool for helping you stay on track for reaching your goals.
For example, I have a goal of turning The Start of Happiness into an income-producing website. It already is but I’d like to scale this further so I can continue to make it a bigger part of my life. For example:
- I have a strategy in place for when and how I write my posts to make it relevant for you as a reader (eg types of posts planned for the year and when. A good example is this post now, 4 weeks into the new year when you might be starting to feel a lack of motivation in achieving your goals).
- I also have a strategy of building a support network and utilizing this (one of which I’m a paid member to an online entrepreneurs network).
- I also have a strategy for maintaining my motivation when I start to feel it drift (I read more broadly on success stories in online business).
Take Action Now: Spend 10 minutes developing your strategies to create the right environment for your to achieve your goals. They can be as simple as ‘join the XX community forum’, ‘have a coffee once a month with an inspiring person’ or ‘rewrite my goals daily’.
4) There is no action plan
Goals are fantastic but without a clear, actionable plan for making them come alive they are simply a dream.
Creating a specific action plan to help progress you towards your goals is like having a map to be able to find the treasure. It provides you clear direction as to where you need to go as well as how you are going to get there.
A common mistake that many people make is to not break down their goals into smaller, ‘bite-sized actions’ that can help you stay focused and motivated. As the bite-sized actions are smaller in size and closer in time, it can help keep your motivation and energy levels high as it is more realistic that you can actually achieve these goals.
Over time, these bite-sized actions lead to huge amounts of change dramatically improving your chances of reaching your goal.
Take Action Now: Break down your goal into bite-sized action steps. If your goal is something that is attainable in 12 months time (eg lose 20kg of weight), what is something you can do today to progress you towards that goal? What is something you can do tomorrow or in a month? Perhaps it’s setting a mini-goal of completing a ’10 km fun run’ in 6 months’ time.
5) Low expectations or belief
When it comes to goal-setting, the goals need to be realistic and achievable. Studies have shown that stretching goals lead to higher performance, however overstretching goals can lead to demotivation and a lack of progress.
Setting yourself higher expectations will lead to higher performance. A good thing to note when setting goals is to frame them in a way that you already have achieved them or that you will achieve them without a doubt.
For example your goal may be “I will lose 20kg of weight by the 31st December” or “I have lost 20kg of weight by the 31st December”. This is as opposed to framing which sets yourself up with lower expectations and a greater chance of failure such as “I aim to lose 20kg” or “I will try to lose 20kg” or “I hope to lose 20kg”
When setting your goals, you truly need to believe that you are able to achieve them. When looking at your bite-sized actions, these should seem very achievable with the commitment and discipline given they are smaller in size and time.
Take Action Now: Read over your goals and ensure they are framed in a way in which you have achieved them. Visualise your success and feel it’s realness. It will be real in a matter of time.
The Change Your Life program provides guides, templates and tools for helping you create your life plan and set goals that you will actually stay motivated to achieve.
Read over the goals that you have set yourself for this year. Do they incorporate the above?
Ensure they are written down, that they are linked to a higher purpose, you have a strategy in place with clear action plans and that they are framed positively. If you following these simple rules you will be setting yourself up for much greater success than if you were to miss any of these components.
If you haven’t yet set goals for the year, I highly encourage you to do so. Without a goal there is a lack of direction and a lack of purpose in life. Direction and purpose provides us the energy, motivation and determination to do the things we love.
What are your goals for the year? Have you put strategies in place to set yourself up for success?