by Ann Yaggie
According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, about half of the population makes resolutions each New Year, the most common topics dealing with weight loss, exercise, stopping smoking, better money management, and debt reduction.
I happen to be a member of the half of us who make resolutions.
However, a few years ago I made an important realization about my new year’s resolutions: They were all pretty much the same. Year after year I sat down, wrote out my promises to myself, and then failed to create any real change—hence, the repeat resolution offenders! Instead of making the same empty promises to myself, I needed to rethink the way I was deciding on these changes. Obviously, something was amiss with my goals.
Why They Fail
More often than not we cling to our goals for a few weeks or a month and then slip back into our old habits. A large part of my own failure to realize my new year’s resolutions was because I was setting goals I didn’t really, really want—that, and my failure to make these goals SMART, instead of lofty and unrealistic.
According to Psychology Today, most people fail to stay true to their resolutions because:
- They’re unprepared to actually change their bad habits
- Their goals are unrealistic
- The “cause and effect” expectation is dispelled (you think that if you lose weight, reduce your debt, or exercise more that your entire life will change, and when it doesn’t you get discouraged)
Could it be possible that you’re not being honest with yourself, realistic, or failing to align your actions to your goals? Are you ready to start setting goals for yourself and actually achieving them?
As part of my training and certification with the Coaches Training Institute (CTI), I was introduced to a whole new and awesome way to think about SMART goals. Granted, everyone has their own little twist on this concept. What I love about the CTI SMART goal is the way it adds a little exhilarating risk and more meaning to your goals and resolutions.
What do you want to accomplish? If you said “I want to lose weight” – the buzzer sounds – not specific enough. You might say “I want to lose 10lbs.” Much better. And a gold star if you say “I want to lose 10lbs by March 15th.
Measureable is standard, but what we include in this bucket can vary. I advise others to include the things that let you know you’ve achieved your goal. So, for the weight loss example from above, you have one tool of measurement: pounds. This is how much you weigh now, how much you want to weigh, and the “by when”. You may also consider a measure that indicates the rate at which you will approach your goal.
Creating a goal that is “accountable” requires enlisting at least one other person (a coach, a friend, mentor, etc) with whom you will share your goal. Invite them to hold you accountable (decide what this will look like together) for achieving the goal.
These are goals that you truly desire and they completely align to your values. For example, your weight loss goal could align with a value you place on your health. It could also align with a value you place on family or maybe fitness. Whatever the goal, if it doesn’t support or align with a value you hold dear, it won’t be a goal you achieve.
Think about the weight loss goal – what’s so exciting about losing 10 pounds? How does it become thrilling? Maybe you’ll be able to fit into that leisure suit you wore with your college band from the 1970s and get a thrill out of wearing it to that company costume party! Maybe you’ll be able to play all-out with your kids because the weight loss gives you more energy. Maybe you’ll have the self-confidence to get up in front of the room and confidently deliver your message. Test your goal by asking yourself whether you are so excited that you can’t wait to get started. Is there a flutter in your stomach – the sort of excitement and scariness of a roller-coaster ride? Then your goal is thrilling. Get to it!
Ann Yaggie is president of DRAY Consulting and Home By 5. With more than 20 years of experience as a corporate leader, Ann brings an integrated-systems perspective to any discussion or situation and a straightforward, practical approach to coaching and consulting. Learn more at http://home-by-5.com/