YES TO GOALS, NO TO RESOLUTIONS: the key to making lasting progress

This January, as well as noticing that many people have been on holiday for the whole month, I have observed lots of people asking if I have made any New Year’s Resolutions.  This has surprised me.

I do not believe in resolutions.  Resolutions are like pledges and promises and unfortunately, we all know what can happen to them, don’t we?  Apparently, the number one New Year’s Resolution in the UK is ‘get into shape / go to the gym more’ and after quitting smoking, it is the second most likely to be broken, with the majority of people breaking their resolution within a week*.  Oops.

To help guarantee success, it is far more motivating to set a goal, create a strategy and commit to actions that can be achieved daily so progress can be measured. There is a clue in the language here: it sounds much more definite, a plan has been put in place and there is more energy involved.

Plus, you activate the amazing power of your brain as this vast prediction machine loves solving puzzles and being in control. Precise goals and plans provide the motivation and ordered system to help your brain operate the most effectively and signal ‘alerts’ to keep you on course.

Also, as my clients will know, there are key requirements for creating successful goals.  SMART goals usually developed in organisations do not cut it. They are too dull, bland and often set on your behalf by someone else.  After all, can you remember any of the goals / targets your team or organisation are actually supposed to be striving for?

If you have not thought about what you want 2010 to be all about yet, may I suggest you do a review of your life first (think about what went well or was disappointing in 2009) and what you would like to change this year. Perhaps, you would like to have an overall theme for 2010?

Next, work with one quarter of the year at a time.  As recommended last month, work towards a maximum of 3 goals in 12 weeks to laser your focus and motivation. Choose goals that matter to you, that create positive feelings and a powerful impact on your life (being emotionally connected to your goal is vital).

Use your own wording for your goal: a few words or a short sentence written in the positive, present tense of what you want (as opposed to what you do not want) stated as if you have already achieved the goal. Write it down.  Read it regularly.

I know a goal is right for me when I feel a ‘lock-on’ effect like a heat seeking missile does to its target.  Everything else fades away and blurs.  Nothing is going to get in the way of me getting this goal!  This is the same experience that I have had since I was a child and is a useful check-in mechanism.

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