Let’s be honest about these first of the year resolutions. According to a study, 88% of people fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions. With those odds, why would you even bother with a New Year’s resolution? I don’t think you should.
But I do think you should set strategic goals. Semantics? Perhaps, but one is 88% likely to fail; the other has a very high probability of success. Here’s the difference.
So many resolutions fail because they’re not aligned with a burning desire to accomplish them. For example, these are common resolutions:
- Lose weight
- Save money
- Take a family vacation
- Quit smoking
None of these is specific, nor are there any action steps. But, the real problem is they’re derived almost out of thin air.
There isn’t a deep and compelling reason to put in the hard work necessary to accomplish those goals. The mistake in traditional goal setting, or New Year resolutions, is that the focus is on the end goal, not the reasons why you want to accomplish them.
When focus shifts from the goal, to the motivation behind the goal, things change. Instead of making an arbitrary resolution to lose weight, instead evaluate your life for all things that cause you stress or prevent you from doing want you want. The stuff that keeps you up at night.
One way to discover these things is to write a list of everything you dislike or are frustrated by. Get a pen and paper, or use your computer, and just start writing. Write every little thing that annoys or causes you stress; everything you’d change if you could wave a magic wand and make it disappear.
When you do this exercise, it’s important not to limit yourself by thinking it’s impossible to change something. Write those things down too. Make the list long—hundreds of things—everything.
You’ll be amazed what you will discover with this quick exercise.
When you get clear about what you really want to change, your true goals will emerge along with powerful motives. It’s impossible to set goals that you’ll stick to without clarity.
Brian Tracy, an expert author and speaker, says only three percent of the population writes their goals. According to research, those three percent are one thousand times more likely to accomplish their goals.
The reason writing works so well is twofold. Before you can write something down, you first have to become crystal clear about it in your own mind. The act of writing your goals forces you to think things through.
Secondly, after you write your goals, you can review them daily. It’s much easier to focus and manage your time when your priorities are clear and in writing.
Every year I leave town for a couple of days to plan and write my goals for the upcoming year. I just returned from San Francisco where I spent a couple of days working through this process.
At one point during my trip, I sat overlooking the harbor with a pen and paper and just wrote for a few hours. There is something about being away from your normal distractions with time to think and jot down notes. It’s amazing how much comes to you with a little solitude. Later during my trip, I organized my random notes into a plan for the year.
Perfect Life Manifesto
I recently revised my workbook that outlines how I do this entire goal setting process. I’ve never promoted this little book, but if you’d like to check out, I’m happy to send you a free copy, if you would just help me out with the shipping and handling. I would love feedback in case I ever promote the workbook in the future. You can enter your shipping details here. I think I will send you some cool videos I’m working on too.
You can take that 88% chance of failing and flip it to an 88% chance of success with a little focused effort. What are your goals for 2012 that you will achieve? Sharing them publicly increases your chances of accomplishing them.