18 January 2012

5 ways to avoid being part of the 85% who fail their resolutions by the end of January.

Between the first glass of champagne and the rowdy singing of Auld Lang Syne, many of us set resolutions for the new year, with the best of intentions to create a positive change in our lives.

By now though, very few of us are still going strong with them.  In fact, studies show that by the end of January, up to 85% of all resolutions will have failed.

If you want to be one of the 15 people who stay on track and actually achieve their goals, you need to get smarter at managing them.

Most people are aware of 'Smart' goals and the need to be specific around what we want by making our goals measureable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. 

It seems so easy ... Set a smart goal and stick to it.   So why do we fail?  And what can we do to be one of the few that succeed?

3 reasons we fail:

  1. We focus on trying to suppress our cravings ... and that's uncomfortable, and unsustainable.  Instead, find a pleasureable alternative to fill the void. Gritting your teeth through the hunger pangs is hard; savouring a low-cal treat is so much easier.
  2. We fantasise about success, dreaming of the end goal, such as the perfect body or the millions in the bank. Which is fun but not helpful.  Rather than idealising the end goal, find ways to enjoy the process.  What's an exercise program that you'll enjoy, every single day?
  3. We rely on willpower.  And we become despondent when our self-discipline fails us.  With so many things competing for our time and attention, will-power is overestimated. The reality of the modern world is that we need a more concrete strategy.
Whilst its impossible to provide a 100% fail safe strategy, the following strategies will improve the chances of successfully achieving your goals from 15% to a massive 50%. 

5 strategies to Get your Goals

  1. Make them Actionable.  Break your goals into smaller steps that are do-able.  Procrastination often comes from not being clear on the next steps.  Having a clear, simple and straight-forward action plan can be motivating to follow and check off.
  2. Be Accountable.  Declare your intentions to a trustworthy Accountabilty Partner who will keep you on the straight and narrow.  The act of making your goals public can be strong motivating force.
  3. Reward yourself.  Instead of beating yourself up if you don't act on your goal, set in place rewards for when you DO take action.  Have positive things to look forward to on the journey and celebrate your successes with pride.
  4. Keep a Report on your progress.  Journal your journey.  It can be inspiring to see how you're tracking (remember the star charts you put together for your kids?).
  5. Make it Enjoyable.  Find the most liberating and fun ways to move forward on your goals.  No point joining a gym if you can't stand them.  Instead, join a Zumba class, or walk with a friend. 'No pain, no gain' is deflating.  Pleasure is an easier measure.
The calendar provides a wonderful opportunity to reassess where we're at and what we want from our lives.  January is a neat starting place for the changes we want to make.  It's worth putting some time aside to crystallise your resolutions into a workable plan that you'll stick to.   And be one of the few who can say they've done what they set out to!