Ah yes, it’s that time of year again. We all get serious about committing to change and achieving certain goals for ourselves. However, more often than not these are the same goals you set last year, but were not able to conquer for one reason or another.
I bet you don’t have a problem setting goals. In fact, most of us are pretty darn good at that. However, achieving them is a different story. Do you set goals but never come up with the strategies, behaviors, or even the why behind setting them? Setting a goal and hoping to achieve it is not a strategy.
What you need is a plan.
Well it’s all about to change. This year is going to be different and I’m going to show you some strategies that I have used myself to achieve certain dreams and ambitions.
New Years by the numbers
Before we dive in together I want to touch on some New Years statistics. I hope not to bore you with numbers but personally, I’m a numbers junkie. Love, love, love ’em
The top 10 New Years resolutions for 2012 according to the journal of clinic psychology were the following (1):
1. Lose weight
2. Get organized
3. Spend less, save more
4. Enjoy life to the fullest
5. Staying fit and healthy
6. Learn something exciting
7. Quit smoking
8. Help others in their dreams
9. Fall in love
10. Spend more time with family
45% of people actually make New Years resolutions
Roughly 8% of people actually achieve their resolution
46% of people keep up with their resolution past 6 months
The resolution to lose weight is essentially always the number one resolution each year so for this post I’ll be using it as the example but the strategies outlined can be applied to any goal you have for the upcoming year.
As you can see, resolutions are all over the map ranging from weight loss and getting organized to falling in love. The only thing they all have in common is that they are all outcome based goals and are not clearly defined. What are the strategies, habits, and behaviors that are going to guarantee you success this year?
Lose weight… what does that actually mean?
To fall in love? How do you actually do that?
Perform a review
One of the most important things you can do for yourself before setting your goals for the upcoming year is to perform a review of the previous year. This makes clarifying what you really need to work on much clearer.
A couple of questions to ask yourself:
1. What went right this year?
2. What went wrong?
It’s important to concentrate on those things that were directly in your control. So for example, I tend to believe you can control most things in your life but for example if you developed a disease that kept you from being able to exercise most of the past year that may have a lot to do with why you did not meet your fitness goals.
Take out a pen and pad and write it all out. What were you able to accomplish this year and what are a few areas you fell short? You may be surprised by the results.
Start with one big goal + The fundamentals
I don’t know about you but I have multiple goals. I want to learn how to play the guitar, speak japanese, write my first book, generate $50,000 online, open my own Crossfit with my pal Jason, and launch a non-profit company.
Someone please call 911. I just had an anxiety attack thinking about all of that.
FOCUS ON ONE BIG GOAL
What is the most important thing in your life that you want to accomplish right now? What is that one big thing that has always seemed to allude you? For one reason or another always comes back full circle this time of year? Pick that goal and lets run with it. It can be a pretty difficult task to give 100% of yourself to 5, 6, or 7 different goals. It’s easier to invest all of your efforts into one that really means a lot to you.
WRITE THAT SHIT DOWN
It may seem insignificant but the small act of writing it down sends a message to your brain that you mean business. If you want more, show the world that you deserve more by taking this small step.
I suggest writing it down and carrying it with you. Refer to it often. Life today is so cluttered and distracting that it can be difficult to hear yourself think sometimes. Keep your goal on your mind at all times by reading it to yourself out loud each day upon waking up. Continue this throughout the day as often as you’d like, the more the merrier here.
Now lets get down and dirty with the goal setting. The fundamentals have been laid down. It’s now time to get specific. Like real, real specific.
Before setting any goals one of the coolest things you can do for yourself is to give your year coming up a theme. Maybe the year of Self-Reliance (big Emerson fan) or maybe the year of Awareness. Use this theme to help shape your goals for the upcoming year.
1 – IS IT WORTH IT AND ARE YOU CAPABLE OF DOING IT?
How are you suppose to achieve a goal if you don’t actually think you are capable of doing it? Gut check time, make sure your goal is realistic. Losing 30 pounds this month probably is not the most realistic goal but 5-10 is surely achievable. Now is that something you are capable of?
If you are capable of the goal is it worth it? Are you willing to go through the ups and downs that are going to come with trying to accomplish a big goal? It’s not going to be peaches n’ cream here. It’s important to recognize that this is going to be tough, you will be challenged physically, mentally, and spiritually. Is it worth it for you to go through the hard times to get to the good?
2 – WORK FROM THE TOP DOWN
I’m a huge fan of working from the top down. So for this I would like you to close your eyes (not right now that would keep you from reading, but later) and picture a target or a bullseye. The center dot is your goal, the surrounding circle is the strategies you will implement to achieve your goal, the circle that surrounds your strategies are the behaviors and habits you must develop in order to implement those strategies, and finally the last circle surrounding those behaviors and habits is your why. I go into each below.
Goals: Whether your goal is weight loss, more work that is fulfilling, to be more organized, or to take a certain trip, the best thing you can do is to be as specific as possible. How much, by what date, by what time?
If you are not specific how will you know when you’ve achieved your goal? Be as precise as possible.
Strategies: After you’ve decided on your specific goal start thinking about two things.
- The strategies that you plan to use to achieve that goal.
- What are the road blocks that might keep you from achieving your goal and the strategies to overcome these road blocks.
The strategies you may use to lose some weight this New Year and get back into shape might be to consistently weight train, participate in yoga, join a Crossfit, start walking every morning for 30 minutes, do bodyweight exercises on your lunch break, learning about the Paleo Diet and implementing it, cooking more real food at home, or maybe something small like only drinking zero calorie beverages.
The strategies at your disposal are many. Decide on which ones work best with your lifestyle and focus on practicing them with consistency. Consistency is one of the most important factors in success.
Some of the road blocks you may face when trying to achieve a goal like weight loss or getting into better shape might be family gatherings, social events, lack of knowledge of what to do. Take an inventory of your life and decide on all of the things that may make achieving this goal or another goal you have difficult.
What are some ways you can overcome these obstacles? Eating before family events maybe, suggesting healthier alternatives to social events, grabbing a Paleo nutrition book and learning the fundamentals. You’ll have to do some serious brainstorming here. Best thing you can do is to take out a pen and pad and write one of your obstacles down in the center. Then circle it and create a web or mind map of all of the different ways you can combat it.
3 – FOCUS ON BEHAVIORS AND HABITS
After you have your strategies set what behaviors and habits will you need to develop in order to implement those strategies as painlessly and effortlessly as possible. Will you need to wake up a bit earlier to prepare healthy meals for the day or to get your workout in? Do you need to stop running off to the vending machine while at work in order to keep your nutrition in check? If starting your own business is a goal will you need to work on it for a 1-2 hours each weekend or after work?
I cover how to build habits in a post found here but I highly recommend picking up Charles Duhiggs book Power of Habit for a more in-depth analysis of how to build positive habits.
4 – DISCOVER YOUR WHY
Lastly, ask yourself why this is your goal. Why is it important to you? Why are you doing it? What is your motivation behind it? Do you want to improve your health so that you can play hoops with your son when he’s old enough to shoot around? Do you want to start your own business so that you can create more freedom and time to spend with your husband or wife?
When finding your why it should almost always elicit an emotional response from you. It should make you crack up hysterically, cry, get goosebumps, or make you feel fired-up, maybe even angry. Take out that pen and pad again and keep writing until you get one of these responses.
5 – CREATE RITUALS
Keep that goal close by and think about it everyday. Whether you are a believer in the law of attraction or not reminding yourself consistently is a great way to keep your eye on the prize. Life’s busy and it can be pretty darn easy to forget about what it is you are trying to accomplish.
It’s all been done before. Remember that always
While there is no one size fits all approach to achieving exactly what you want in life there are thousands upon thousands of people who have achieved your goal before. The groundwork for strategies, tactics, and the habits to succeed have been laid before you. Keep this in mind if things get rough. Reach out to those that have accomplished what you are looking to do.
Where you are right now is not who you always have to be
The habits and behaviors that you display have shaped the person that you are right now. Commit to reinventing yourself by taking an honest look on the decisions you are making on a daily basis. Take and inventory of those behaviors and do not allow past and present circumstances to control goal setting and your ability to achieve those goals.
Clarify that what it takes to achieve your goals versus what is convenient are completely different. It’s going to be tough and it’s going to take hard work.
Committed people do not have excuses. Be committed. You’ve got this.
What are some promises you are making yourself for the New Year?
With gratitude and love,
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash