New Year, New You?
As we approach the end of the first month of 2020, it is a good time for reflection and especially time to look at how the resolutions that many of us have made have held fast.
For hundreds, if not thousands of years now, people have used the beginning of a new year (coupled in part with turning our back on the overindulgence of the festive period) to make a fresh start. Be it in kicking a bad habit, exercising more, losing weight as an antidote to the overindulgence of the party season.
Yet research tells us that 25% of people have failed to maintain their resolutions after one week and fewer than 10% will still be maintaining their goal by the end of the year.
Why does this happen? Are our resolutions themselves not resilient enough to outlast the temptation around us, do we lack the motivation or the resilience to continue? Or, could it be that the input for our resolution – the rationale behind the goal creation was in itself not robust enough and therefore doomed to failure?
Focus on the “Why” rather than the “What”
Behavioural scientists argue that when we concentrate on the “what” rather than the “why” we will be more likely to lose focus and give up. An example of this is “This year I will exercise more” – this is a generic target without goals that are not measurable. The “why” may not be understood; indeed, there may not even be a “why”. It is a reaction to a short period of over-indulgence in a specific season. Without a robust WHY as the input, failure in the task or resolution is inevitable.
In order to succeed, the “why” needs to be based on what we can gain from our resolution. That is what drives the success. This will be a positive affirmation to back up the rationale for the resolution. To use our example of exercise, if we understand what we can gain, this gives the resolution more substance, and you can buy into that purpose.
“I want to exercise more, as I would like to improve my levels of fitness and participate in a local charity running event”.
We now have a goal, a purpose and a “why” which defines the reason for the resolution.
Be SMART in your goal setting
A better idea then is to use a technique often used in business – developing SMART goals. The better defined and focussed the goal, the more likely that it is to be achieved. So, what are they?
Specific – Is the goal well defined and with a specific focus.
Measurable – A goal without a measurable outcome is like a sports competition without a scoreboard. How will you measure success – for example, you may set yourself a goal of running a half-marathon, but only after you have run 3K, 5K, 10K, and so on. If you can measure, then you can also ensure that you are on track.
Attainable – If you want to be more active and take up a sport such as running, will you realistically become the next long-distance running champion in six months? Or is it more realistic that running 5K in 30 minutes is a much more attainable target? Setting unrealistic expectations can be demotivating and even lead you to abandon your resolution.
Relevant – Is your resolution relevant to you, your lifestyle and the world around you?
Time-Based – Choose a realistic time frame in which to accomplish your goal. If you cycle, for instance, you may wish to complete a long-distance route. Pick one several months out as a target, and you can then build up the time in the saddle, rather than attempt and fail after only a handful of weeks.
SMART goals have been used to ensure that business objectives can be measured, improved upon and successfully executed for many years, so why not apply them to your own personal projects or New Year resolutions also?
The year ahead
If your New Year’s resolution is still holding fast, then congratulations! Your motivation and perseverance will be paying off, and you should already be feeling the benefit. If your enthusiasm is waning, or you have already given up, then it is never too late. Sit down and think again about what you really want to get out of this year and how you can achieve it. Self-coach with your own personal GROW model and look at your Goal, what is a Reality for you, what Options you have to start again and importantly, the whether or not you have the Will to succeed.
If you would like more information about some of the models that we have talked about in this blog and how you can also deploy them in a business context, please contact us.
Good luck, and keep going!