I suppose you want to lose weight, eat better, spend less money, and devote more time to family, right? I don’t blame you! This is the time of year we’re all inspired to revamp our goals for the upcoming year and resolve to achieve them once and for all.
But while over 40% of Americans make resolutions each January, research done at the University of Scranton found that only 8% actually achieve them. Did you get that?! Eight percent. Of 1,000 people that’s only 32 who achieve the goals they set.
Whether it’s self-improvement, financial responsibility, or social enrichment, why do so many of us fail to realize our greatest desires?
As we continue to understand the human psyche more deeply, it is clear that we actually set ourselves up for failure in three primary, and totally unintentional, ways:
- Aspiring to goals so extreme they are impossible to even start
- Believing we lack enough willpower or determination to actually succeed
- Keeping them private
It’s totally normal (and good) to set big goals — we want success! Unfortunately, success in our human brains, more often than not, equates to total physical transformation, complete life overhaul, or wild financial success that’s simply unrealistic within the narrow parameters we typically set for ourselves.
Lofty goals without clear direction on how to proceed will always steer you into making four left turns — you’re doing something, but making no real progress. Always circling back to square one tends to get blamed on a lack of willpower. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It’s also quite common for us to keep big goals and dreams hush-hush — the fewer people know about them, the less chance of embarrassment if we don’t succeed. Plus, without accountability to follow through we’re less inclined to follow through when the going gets tough.
To be clear, total physical transformation, complete life overhaul, or wild financial success is readily available to each of us.
It’s how we choose to get there that differentiates the achievers from the daydreamers. Success, no matter how big or small, requires a well-developed plan of actionable steps; a mindset that marries focused progress with the flexibility to perceive necessary course adjustments along the way.
In order to actually achieve the success you pine for year after year, you need simply to follow these five foolproof steps to dominating your 2016 goals:
1. Write them out – writing out goals by hand with archaic pen and paper is a science-back method for boosting motivation, and communicating complex ideas effectively. Writing is a tool for thinking, expressing, creating, and refining those dreams into clear pathways for achievement.
Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are among those wildly successful individuals who have learned the power of writing in order to better understand their thoughts and how those thoughts might effectively contribute to their success.
2. Segment goals into ridiculously small steps – if it’s not ridiculous then it’s still too big and you might find an excuse to put it off. If it feels silly to write that first step down because it’s so doable then you’re on the right track.
I had a client who worked through this very exercise. She’d set a goal but struggled to follow through time and time again. As we began to work together she quickly learned that tasks she felt should be doable were creating an energetic block in her ability to complete them because they hovered just outside of her comfort zone. When we dialed back each task into three or four tinier steps she would say with full confidence, “Well, of course, I can do that. It’s ridiculously easy.” And that’s how she transformed her life — one ridiculously easy step at a time.
3. Set specific timelines and space them out over an appropriate amount of time – sometimes the best laid plans can go awry if you’re not clear about the expectations for completion or if you try to do too much, too soon. Bombarding your calendar with to-dos is just as detrimental as keeping the calendar clear for “whatever, whenever” to occur.
Whether your goal is weight loss, improved nutritional choices, better sleep, less stress, or more family time, you will need to outline your plan. Begin by answering the following questions:
- What will you do?
- Why will you do it?
- When will you begin? When will you end?
- How often will you measure progress?
- How will you do this?
4. Document the Journey – this simple task offers multiple benefits. First, it provides a benchmark for your starting point. Second, documenting each milestone as you proceed allows you to determine if the path you’ve chosen has been effective or if you need to fine-tune your course of action.
Have you ever seen someone’s before-and-after pictures, their figure transformed, and been motivated to find out what they did to get such incredible results? I know I have. Testimonials have a similar effect. They fuel the desire for change by “proving” that it can be done. Tracking your own progress can be just as motivating — and a great guide to keeping you on the right track.
5. Share your goals with someone – accountability may be the most important factor for following through on a goal, sticking to a new routine, or any other attempt at true and lasting change. Social accountability provides a sense of responsibility to follow through and, more often than not, people have an easier time showing up (or performing) for the praise of others than for themselves alone.
Internalizing accountability is a critical part of long-term success and creates independence, but inviting a trusted friend, a professional, or even joining a group of like-minded people on Facebook to support your journey creates connection and can help you dive deeper into your commitment. Plus, others often have the ability to troubleshoot struggles to which you may be too close to remain objective.
No matter what goal you’re setting, whether you’re shooting for the moon or simply trying to drink more water, plan for success by following the five foolproof steps so you can totally dominate your goals in 2016.