There are two events certain in life – birth and death. And two more are almost guaranteed … New Year’s resolutions get made and turn to dust before the end of January.
The problem isn’t with setting goals. That can actually make you more successful and happier.
So what goes wrong with New Year’s resolutions?
If you’d like to keep your resolutions on track this year, be sure you’re not getting tripped up by these 7 pitfalls:
1. Vague, sweeping declarations … those commitments that come spilling out after a few holiday cocktails or in the excitement of the clean slate feel of a New Year. “I will get in shape, be productive, get my *^*^ together, be more organized, etc.”
Review your resolutions and rephrase them to be specific and measurable. For instance,
- I will exercise three times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes.
- I will plan tomorrow’s to-do list before the end of the prior day.
- I will have a clean desk at least four days a week.
Now you’ve got something that can be managed.
2. Unrealistic expectations. Change is often more difficult and takes longer than you want or expect. Whether your goal is to be promoted, start a new business, learn a new musical instrument, increase your sense of balance, or create some other kind of change, you need patience.
You’re changing behaviors or habits that sit on a 5-, 10-, and 20-year foundation. And since no one has yet invented a habit be gone spray, take a deep breath when you’re feeling frustrated, remind yourself why your goal matters and keep moving.
3. Not really gonna happen. If deep down inside you don’t believe you’ll reach your goal, you’re defeated before you begin. On the other hand, when you trust that it’s possible, amazing things can happen.
Before Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile in 1954, scientists believed it to be physically impossible. Yet just 46 days after he proved it could be done, his record was broken. And within a few years, sixteen runners had run sub-4 minute miles. What changed?
Nothing other than a shift in belief.
4. Too much, too fast. One of my clients who struggled with bite-off-too-much, get-overwhelmed-and-give-up syndrome recently sent me an email with the subject line Revelation.
“If I want to feel I have given a project my very 100% best, it will have to be tackled bit by bit, in stages, and may not be completed at one time. I can manage giving it my all and doing my very best when it’s broken up into pieces and I can look back at each completed piece and say Damn, that piece is great. Eventually, the entire project will get done.”
Amen to that.
5. Poor planning. Think through how you’ll accomplish your goal(s) if you want them to succeed!
During a work-life balance workshop I gave at a CPA firm a few years ago, one of the participants shared that his commitment was to go to the gym twice a week. When I said, “Great intention! How will you make that happen?” he looked at me like I was from Mars.
If you want to be successful with your goals, you must be clear on what you will do differently.
6. No accountability. When you’re all alone with your goal or intention, it’s easy to get distracted and lose momentum. On the other hand, having someone in your corner, holding you accountable and helping you stay on track, will skyrocket your odds of success.
Partner up with a friend or colleague, join a group working towards a common goal, or hire a coach.
7. Whose goal is this anyway? It’s easy to get caught up in what you should want to do or what everyone else thinks you should do.
Here’s the litmus test to make sure it’s what you want. Answer the question, “Why do you care?” And if you can’t answer the question, it’s time to discard that goal.
Your goals matter.
Whether through your work or as a parent, friend, or partner, in your daily interactions, or simply in the way you show up in the world, you are here on this earth to make a difference.
If not now, when?