At the end of every year, I send out a “Reflection Questionnaire” to my all coaching Clients to take some time to think about their past year and plan with intention for the following year. I don’t like to call them New Year’s resolutions, because let’s be honest, resolutions are often broken.
Studies show that approximately 80% fail to keep their resolutions and usually drop them by the second week of February.
Why is the failure rate so high? How can we avoid this from happening? The problem with implementing new personal habits or goals, we:
- set goals that are not realistic,
- procrastinate – we have a nagging voice that says: “I’ll start this tomorrow…”
- don’t follow through, it seems too overwhelming to stick with it,
- de-prioritize the goals because we are ok with letting ourselves down vs. others,
- forget why it was important to us in the first place.
As I coach individuals through their year-end reflections, I guide them on how they can tackle their following year and provide these helpful steps for successful goal setting:
1. Create a Specific Plan
Perhaps one personal goal is that you want to read more this year. Ask yourself – “How many?” Let’s say, 20 books – which translates to reading a book about every 2.5 weeks. With an average book being about 300 pages, you’re going to have to read about 20 pages a day.
To ensure you reach your goal you need to plan how to incorporate it into your daily routine. It could be first thing in the morning when you have your morning coffee, or before you fall asleep at night. Take the extra time to break down your goal and be specific on how to execute. A big reason why resolutions fail is that they are not SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound) and there is no plan on how to execute.
2. Avoid Self Sabotage
When setting goals with my Clients, I end my session by asking them, “What excuses will you tell me next session for this incomplete goal?” Start by writing down a list of all the excuses you will have for not following through and be honest about it. After that, next to each goal and excuse, write down how you can overcome this. This is a quick exercise to help increase your ability to stick to your goal and if that goal is realistic.
3. Find an Accountability Partner
As a Coach, I get to play the role of holding my clients accountable for their goals. We set the goals together and during each session, we check in on the progress and adjust as needed. I encourage those who do not have a Coach, to set their goals and share with their friends or family members who can hold them accountable to these tasks. When we say our goals out loud to others, it helps us solidify that we are committed to them. Ask them to check in on you and ask about your progress. I find we are more likely to follow through when we have to answer to someone about the progress.
4. Celebrate the Wins
Create mini-milestones during the process to celebrate during the process of reaching your goal. A lot of times, when goals are completed, we rush to complete the next one or we start thinking about how can we raise the bar. It is important to pause, recognize the effort and accomplishment that went into it. Celebrate with a small purchase, or just a glass of wine or even a victory dance to acknowledge where you were and where you are now.
It’s important to stick to your goals as it gives you a sense of achievement, provides momentum and breaks you out of your comfort zone, and builds your character by creating a challenge that you stuck to.
Setting a goal is easy, sticking to them is hard. It’s so easy to give up when we are doing them for just ourselves. I challenge you to set new goals for yourself and implement the tips I have provided and see where you land by the end of the year. I encourage you to be more intentional about your days and avoid going through the comfortable motions of life.