A New Year is coming and many are starting to make their New Year’s Resolutions. Statistics show that nearly 50% of people who set goals and resolutions are unable to complete them. Ladies, we can turn this around!
Q: Why are only half of us able to stick to our resolutions when they are seemingly so important to us at the beginning of the New Year?
A: People often aren’t ready to change their habits, particularly bad habits, and that accounts for the high failure rate. In order to change a behavior, you have to change your thinking (or “rewire” your brain).
Peter Bregman, from the Harvard Business Review Blog Network argues:
“When we set goals, we’re taught to make them specific and measurable and time-bound. But it turns out that those characteristics are precisely the reasons goals can backfire. A specific, measurable, time-bound goal drives behavior that’s narrowly focused and often leads to either cheating or myopia. Yes, we often reach the goal, but at what cost?” Bregman advocates creating an area of focus rather than goals, and goes on to say that “An area of focus taps into your intrinsic motivation, offers no stimulus or incentive to cheat or take unnecessary risks, leaves every positive possibility and opportunity open, and encourages collaboration while reducing corrosive competition. All this while moving forward on the things you and your organization value most.”
Q: When we talk about resolutions, we are setting goals for ourselves. How can we help ourselves to set realistic goals and make them work for us?
A: Michelle May, M.D. shares some tips on making the goal-setting process successful.
“New You” Resolutions in 10 Strategic Steps
- Assess Your Starting Point: Take an accurate and detailed assessment of where you are presently relative to the goal you would like to achieve.
- Consider Your Values: Goals based on your core principles and values will form a passionate attitude!
- Dream: Go for ideas that inspire and challenge. Project yourself into the future and write down your ideal scenario.
- Define and Clarify: Narrow down your goals to those that inspire you the most. Make them so clear that you can see them, feel them and measure them.
- Write it Down: Write your goals in positive terms using detailed words and/or pictures. Put them in a place where you will see them often.
- Develop a Plan: Set long- and short-term goals, including a timeline with deadlines. Be flexible and open to new opportunities and paths to your goals but be careful of detours.
- Identify Obstacles and Possible Solutions: Expect setbacks and learn to recover from them.
- Create a Support Network: Consider identifying an accountability partner to encourage continued progress.
- Make it Happen: Periodically assess your progress, adjusting your approach and/or modifying goals as necessary.
- Reward Yourself: Small and large incentives will keep you motivated to reach your short- and long-term goals. Keep in mind that the greatest reward is in knowing that you have done your best!
Q: How important is it to have a support system in place to assist in keeping on track and reaching your goals for the year ahead?
A: Once you’ve decided on your goals, write them down and share them with others, including your manager, peers, direct reports, and friends and family. When you make your goals public, you’re committing to them. Your openness also enables others to hold you accountable. Candor is especially important when your goals have an immediate impact on the people you work with.
Create a plan of action or a step-by-step strategy to accomplish your personal or professional goals. If you’re not seeing results, you should also have a “Plan B.” Recruit support as an encouraging and supportive network is critical to reaching your goals. Your support system could include colleagues, mentors, your significant other, a professional coach or even peers outside your organization. They can be both your cheering squad and sounding board. The more you engage others in the process, the more likely you are to accomplish the goals you set for yourself.
To hear what our members have to say on this topic, view our December 9th eChapter event.