Photo Credit:Runner in Central Park by diana_robinson
This is a guest post from Michael Bollinger from cardkiwi.com
With the first quarter of 2014 nearly done, now is a good time to assess whether you have been successful so far in achieving your resolutions and goals for the New Year. Statistics suggest that whilst 45% of us regularly make a resolution at the beginning of a new year, only about 8% of us will actually be successful in keeping that resolution (University of Scranton: 2014). Considering that fewer than 1 in 12 people will actually manage to achieve what they set out to at the beginning of the year, is just thinking of a “New Year’s Resolution” really the best way to achieve your goals? Below are some alternative suggestions which may help you to achieve your goals.
Changing your habits
Vicki Davis suggests that the best way to achieve your goals is to include them as part of your everyday routine. By creating “habits” which are associated with your goal, you can make that habit something which you do naturally every day. For example, if your goal is to exercise more, you need to make exercising into a habit. Putting your “habits” into a calendar will help you to formalise them, and will remind you to do them. It may even help to break these “habits” down even further, for instance, you may want to schedule 5 minutes on the exercise bike, 10 minutes on the treadmill, 10 minutes on the rowing machine and then a 5 minute cool-down session. You should also set triggers to help to ensure that you can make these habits happen. If you plan on working out after work, then make a habit of packing your exercise gear the night before, and leaving it by the front door so that it will be ready for you when you go out the next morning. By encouraging your brain to make your goals into habits, you will be able to make these things feel like they are second nature to you, and you will soon achieve things without having to think about them at all!
Focus on the System, Not the Goal
James Clear suggests that we should focus on a “system”, rather than focusing on a goal. Once a person begins to focus on the system, rather than the end goal, they will start achieving and the end goal will usually follow on naturally. For example, rather than focusing on the daunting task of writing a book, you should focus on your system with a more manageable writing schedule instead. Because systems seem like a smaller thing, you will have more opportunity to assess whether it is working well for you, and you won’t feel like a failure if you ultimately have to change your plans. By focusing on your schedule instead of your ultimate goal, you will be also be more likely to continue achieving even after you have reached your original goal! Whereas some people would stop doing something once they had achieved their goal, they are more likely to continue working if they are more focused on the system. Having a system helps people to avoid “yo-yoing” between achievement and idleness.
George T. Doran suggests that people should use the SMART criteria for goal setting. Whilst these were originally related to management, they can be adapted to relate to personal goals instead. In this case, SMART is a mnemonic which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound. To make your goals achievable, you should create them based on these 5 criterion.
Specific – Make your goal and your reasoning for choosing that goal clear and unambiguous. This means that you won’t be able to convince yourself that you have achieved something when you have really only made a half-hearted attempt at it.
Measurable – You should be able to measure the goal and measure your progress towards it. This will help you to know if you are progressing well, and you will know definitively when you have accomplished your goal. Instead of saying “I want to lose weight”, say “I want to lose 10kg in 6 months”.
Achievable – The goals which you set for yourself must be achievable, but you should also take care to create goals for yourself which will require some work. Setting the bar too low can be as bad as setting the bar too high.
Relevant – Goals should be relevant to your life. Even if a goal ticks all of the other boxes, it is pointless if it is irrelevant to your current circumstances.
Time-Bound – Set a deadline to work towards. This is intended to give you more focus and prevent you from allowing your goals to become your lowest priority.
There are many different methods which you could use to help you to achieve your goals. If you are struggling with one method, try a different one until you feel that you have been successful. Perseverance can really pay off when it comes to achieving your ambitions.