Turn your New Year's Resolutions into 'sticky' SMART goals. Here's how...
A few days into 2016 and you may already be beating yourself up for breaking that New year’s Resolution once again?
Perhaps even now a small, judgemental voice inside is reproaching you for your lack of commitment and willpower. You told yourself, this year you would eat healthier, cut back on the booze, practise mindfulness or blog every day? Now, as you sit back on the sofa with a ‘well deserved glass of wine’ after a hard day’s work, you wonder where the motivation went ……and how you might get it back?
If you've broken your New Year’s resolution just a few days in, it might help you to know you are not alone. According to a YouGov survey last year, 63% of us started out with a New Year’s resolution that was broken by the end of January. However, in the same survey, a smug 10% said they never break their New Year's resolutions.
Why can some people focus with laser-like precision on their resolutions, while the rest simply fall by the wayside? Are there dark forces at work, or do the 10% have a secret everyone should know?
An initial clue might lie in asking yourself ‘just who am I making this change for?’
If you’re being pressurised by others to lose weight for instance, you are much less likely to succeed than if it is you, yourself, who wants to 'drop a dress size'. In a study of obese people, who embarked on a 6 month weight loss programme, it was found that those who wanted to make change for the sake of their own health were much more likely to lose weight and keep it off than those who were under pressure from friends and family.
Clearly, if you're going to keep a New Year's resolution, the motivation has to come from within. But are there other ways you can help yourself stay on track?
Create resolutions you can keep
If you want to stick to your resolutions this year, you need to get organised by turning them into goals. If you were planning a major road trip, you wouldn't think of setting off without having a clear idea of your destination, would you?
You wouldn't take to the road without a map or perhaps a SATNAV, in which case you'd need to program it and give it clear coordinates for where you want to go. You might break your journey down and plan a few stops en route to rest for a while. You would also be likely to have an idea about when you would reach your destination.
In other words, you would have a goal, a plan, a strategy and a time frame.
The key to ultimate success lies in how organised and committed you are. Do the ground work. Sharpen your axe before you start to fell that metaphorical tree. Time spent in preparation is definitely time well spent.
Your 'sticky' SMART goals cheat sheet
In true coaching style, your resolutions, goals or promises need to be SMART; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed. But if you want real success, there is a magic formula which really works.
First you need to summarize what it is you want..... and the reasons you want it. This harnesses motivation. Then it helps to strategize; to imagine how you might roll that goal out into your everyday life. Then, create yourself a system, a checklist and an if-then strategy so you are prepared for the glitches that might get in the way.
But there is something else that will provide you with the magic key to setting goals that really stick. Here's how. Answer these questions in full:
The 4 steps to goal success
- What do I want?
- Why do I want that?
- How will I know when I have got it?
- What will that feel like?
- What will others notice?
- What can I do to take this forward?
- What else?
- What else?
- And what else?
- When do I want to achieve this by?
- How will I fit this into my life?
- What will my day/week look like when I begin to make these changes?
- What might stop me or get in the way?
- When will I take the first/next step?
Finally, even when you have the willpower, the motivation, the plan and the strategy in place, they are still unlikely to be enough.
Yes, they are wonderful tools. But you need to also harness the extraordinary power of your subconscious mind to bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, and to bring your goals, your beliefs, your values and your actions all into line.
The final piece of the jigsaw lies in visualising success.
Close your eyes, breathe, relax, and time travel in your imagination to a point in the future when you have achieved your goal. Notice what that feels like. What does your life look like? Look at yourself in the mirror. What do you see?
Allow yourself to look back along the time line and notice what you had to do to get you to this point. What was the first step you took? And, as you drift back to the present moment, notice a single 'golden thread' that attaches you to that future life, that will gently draw you in that direction.
You now have the secret of creating goals that really stick. Now go spread your wings…… and see how high you can fly in 2016!