New year, new you! January is the perfect time to make positive changes in our life or work habits, but is making New Year's resolutions really the best way to go about it? The statistics say no! Research shows that about half of us make New Year's resolutions, and yet only 8% of us manage to achieve them.
Most New Year's resolutions focus on self improvement, weight loss, money and relationships. But whatever the goal, most of are looking to changing deeply ingrained habits or traits. One of the reasons so many of us fail to hold onto New Year's resolutions beyond January is that they are often too absolute, unrealistic or non-specific. In short, by not taking the time to properly plan out our New Year's goals, we are setting ourselves up to fail!
So what can you do to give yourself the best possible chance of sticking to your New Year's goals? Here are my top tips...
1. Reflect on where you are NOW
This is an important step, so it's important not to skip it! Take time to reflect on your current reality and any progress you have made so far in relation to your goals. Evaluating exactly where you are right now will help you move forward with greater purpose and understanding. Ask yourself the following questions...
- What is the current reality for you?
- What progress, if any, have you made towards your goal already?
- Have you tried to change these habits before? What's worked and what hasn't?
- On a scale of 1-10, where are you in relation to where you'd like to be, ideally?
Approach this exercise with a positive frame of mind... even if you've tried before and failed, there will be something to learn from the experience of failure, which will make you more likely to succeed this time round.
2. DEFINE the goal
Visualise! Sometimes, whilst we may have dreamt about our end goal, we often haven't fully defined the results that we're hoping for. Take the time to think it through so that you know exactly what you're aiming for and, importantly, why...
- What exactly is your desired end result?
- How will you feel when you achieve it? What will be different for you?
- How will it positively impact your life/work and/or those around you?
3. Take ONE step at a time
Now that you know your destination, you can plan the journey. If your goal is a big one, see if you can break it into small, bite-size chunks. Breaking your annual goal into monthly or bi-weekly milestones can make life-changing goals feel much more achievable. Celebrate your small successes by giving yourself rewards at every milestone.
4. Be SMART
Not a new concept, but a great one to stick to! Make sure your goals are:
- If your goal isn't specific, you won't have a specific result. In fact, you'll struggle to achieve anything at all. "I want to be fitter in the New Year" won't necessarily get you very far... be more specific. What does 'fit' mean to you? What will you do to get there? How will you know when you've achieved it?
- You need to be able to measure your success. If you think your results will be difficult to measure, go back to 'specific' again, because you probably weren't specific enough!
- Make sure you are fully in control of the outcome (i.e. avoid setting goals that are dependant on something or someone else).
- You have to be able to make your goal a reality. One day, if you're successful, it will be REAL! So take time to think about how it will impact you and make sure you can visualise the outcome.
- Give yourself a realistic deadline. If your aim is to change a habit or trait for good, then set regular check-in dates to review your progress.
5. Be ACCOUNTABLE
This final step is about making a firm commitment to your goal. One approach is to increase your personal accountability. You can do this by writing your goals down, scheduling milestones in your calendar and planning small rewards along the way to keep you going.
Another approach is to share your goals with an individual or group who can hold you accountable. If you're making a lifestyle change that involves cooperation from your partner or family, you'll need their buy-in from the outset. However, even if your goal has no impact on those around you, it can be useful to share your intentions with at least a few people. If those around you know about your goals, they may be able to offer help, support and encouragement, which might make all the difference.
Mother Hub co-founder, Juliet Thomas is a career coach and personal impact mentor. She has a background in global leadership and and earned a Diploma in Executive Coaching at the Academy of Executive Coaching in 2013. Juliet helps ambitious individuals achieve their full potential by facilitating goal setting, improving communication skills and boosting personal brands.