According to an article published in US News, 80% of people give up on their resolutions by mid-February. Perhaps it was the champagne talking. Maybe it was your best friend who challenged you to run a marathon this year. Whatever it was, it may have seemed like a good idea at the time and regardless of the catalyst – you wouldn’t have declared it if there wasn’t a part of you that didn’t want to achieve that goal.
Our human nature is to protect ourselves and when we are forced to change our ways of being to adapt to what is required to achieve a goal, we often give up. Where only 8% of people actually achieve anything they set out to do January 01, a whopping 92% find themselves in a similar position to where they were 365 days earlier. The reality is that we set goals and may have some fundamental desire however unless the desire is stronger than our false sense of comfort with the weight we are, the money we earn, or the relationships we have, we are not likely to create permanent change.
As a work-life balance expert, NLP coach, and trainer, I have worked with hundreds of thousands of people around the globe instilling the concept that not only is change possible, it is necessary. In my book, The Have It All Woman, I discussed the concept that we, humans, are much like sharks who must keep moving in order to survive. The shark must have water running over its gills to breathe and we must feel a sense of progress in order to feel fulfilled.
The question isn’t whether we have a desire to experience progress, the question is whether we can be tough enough to stay the course as we adapt to the change required to live into new habits that will support our goal outcomes. It has been my experience working with people that there are 5 key things that we can do to live into our resolutions, or at least make it to the end of February.
1.Set Micro Goals
Whether you want to run a half marathon, make an extra $25,000 this year, or find your great love – breaking the goal down into smaller pieces is a healthier, much more sustainable approach. For example – if you have a savings goal of $15,000, list your goal like this:
- I have easily saved $500.
- I have easily saved $1000.
- I have easily saved $1500.
Micro goals are confidence boosters. I take all of my big goals and break them down, print them out, and check them off as I achieve them. There is a delicious satisfaction in writing, ‘victory’ across a goal.
2. Create an Anchor Image or Images
Vision boards, magazine cutouts of your dream bod – they are all good and they work. Years ago, a friend cut out a photo of couple getting married. It was an ad for a bridal salon. She was quite attracted to the man in the photo. Guess what? She met the exact man, married him, and now they have several children and grandchildren.
When we have images available to remind us of our desires, we are more likely to stay on track.
3. Review Your Goals Weekly
My husband and I review our progress on our weekly runs. We set goals in the key areas of our life – health, faith, marriage, each of our children, business, contribution, and fun. In 2017, we logged many miles discussing progress big and small. On our December 30th run, we looked at our progress for the entire year. Many of the seemingly small victories added up to large wins.
Reviewing your goals weekly will help you stay focused.
4. Write Out 10 Reasons Why The Goal is Important
When we set goals we often overlook the true meaning behind the intention. Yes, we may want to lose weight however what does that really mean? It might mean that we become better parents, live longer for our kids, have more energy to make more money, reduce the risk of having the health of our parents, and so forth. By connecting with why a goal is important, and being deeply honest about it, we are much more likely to achieve it.
5. Big and Small Rewards
People are often so short on attention that spending an entire year pursuing something becomes very unlikely. When we create rewards for ourselves to celebrate our wins we are reinforcing a positive behavior. Maybe you want to stop drinking wine every night of the week and you also want a new pair of yoga pants. Tell yourself you will only buy the pants when you do 5 days without wine.
Solid companies have incentive programs for their employees and those who fail to do so rarely keep their best people. As humans, it is ingrained in us to expect some kind of acknowledgement for our efforts. In school, we knew that if we worked hard, we could get an ‘A.’ At work, or in business, we know that if we apply ourselves, are consistently upping our game, and focused, we will win the trip, get the bonus, or receive some form of recognition.
Do not expect someone else to recognize your progress – do it yourself. Create a big and small reward program for your progress. The bigger your progress, the bigger the reward. In our company we use trips, spa days, and financial incentives. As I write this, I am in the process of putting the finishing touches on this year’s incentives as our company has recently grown by two new team members. I am also creating my own reward system for when we meet our goals.
Lastly, make a decision to be in the rarefied air of people who achieve this year. Do not let anyone, or anything, derail you from at least making a dent in what you say you want. Life is much too short not to live on purpose and fulfilled.
Go for it.