Here we are just out of January, and as a coach I’m always curious about people’s New Year’s resolutions, goals or intentions (whatever you like to call them), and how well it’s going for them so far.
Look online and you’ll find a variety of studies claiming that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February, that 92% of people don’t achieve their New Year’s goals, or that by mid-January 31% of people have abandoned their goals. Those are some discouraging numbers.
I sincerely hope you’re on track with your goals, and if not, please know you are not alone and that there are steps you can take to do something about it now.
If you’re not on track anymore, instead of giving up entirely – take some time today to refocus and pivot to get back on track.
Here’s what I suggest you do. Look at those goals that you’re having trouble with and dig a little deeper into each with the following questions.
Get quiet, with no distractions – put your phone in the other room or turn it off – take a few deep breaths, and ask yourself these questions. It works best if you write down your answers, and any other thoughts and notes while doing this.
1. Is this goal something I really want to achieve this year? Have I taken responsibility for my goal? Or is someone telling me I “should” do it?
I hear this a lot, “My wife said I need to eat better so I’m cutting all sugar, flour and dairy from my diet” or “My doctor told me I need to exercise to help with my stress”.
Taking responsibility means you own it, not your spouse or doctor or someone else. This is your life, your goal, you’re the lead actor in this movie, so take charge and rewrite your goal: “I’m going to reduce my stress levels this year by exercising 3 times a week and taking a stress-reducing class (stretching/meditation/yoga/breathing) on Saturday mornings.” That little shift in stepping up and taking responsibility is very powerful. Can you feel the difference when you read this new goal? Rewrite your goals so you’re responsible and in charge, not the passive bystander or victim.
2. Why do I want to achieve this goal? This ties in with the question above. This is YOUR goal, and you need a strong reason for it.
The reason behind your goal is the most important thing that will motivate you to keep going, when temptations seem to be everywhere or you start bargaining with yourself, saying “I’ll just do it tomorrow” – sound familiar?
It’s especially true this time of year, when on a cold, dark winter morning you convince yourself that it’s more comfortable to stay in your warm cozy bed for another 30 minutes, rather than getting up for your planned morning meditation, journaling and treadmill walk, before going to work.
So you must get clear about your reason why.
Think about your goal, and keep asking why until you get to the real reason for wanting to achieve it. The BIG WHY. You may a few big reasons, write them all down and stay focused on them. Keep that list near to remind yourself of it every day or throughout the day during on challenging times.
3. What obstacles am I facing or what challenges may come up to derail me from my goal?
There are always going to be obstacles in life, so you may as well plan and be ready for them. This is a proactive and strategic way to anticipate challenges and determine how best to act when they happen.
I’d like you to write all the potential challenges down and for each of them create an action you’ll take instead, so that you stay on track with achieving your goal.
For example, commit to going to bed an hour earlier each night so that you wake up for your new morning routine, well rested and ready to go, and less likely to hit the snooze button because you’ve only slept 5 or 6 hours and you’re exhausted.
Or, if you know you have a birthday party Friday night where there’s going to be all sorts of unhealthy food and of course, cake, but your goal is to eat healthier this year, you could plan to eat an avocado before you go so you’re full and less tempted by the nachos and warm cheese dip.
4. Is my goal unrealistic?
Adjust your goal so it’s more realistic and achievable. If you’re a the typical couch potato in the evenings and on most weekends, and your Monday through Friday is sitting in front of a computer for most of the work day, you probably shouldn’t have a goal to work out 5 days a week for 90 minutes, starting tomorrow. Is that realistic? Nope. You’ll be so sore after day 1 that you’ll never go back to that gym – ever.
5. Can I modify my goal to make it more attainable?
Definitely modify goals that are unrealistic, but I’d like you to take a look at all your goals and see if they could be adjusted. In the case above, start off slow with walking for 20 minutes a couple of times per week, and build from there.
Or maybe you’re a business owner or salesperson and you have a specific revenue target this year. Think about possibly reducing that yearly number by 5% – 25%, or even by half, and then back into what your monthly targets are now. Does it feel more attainable? Do you feel less pressure and stress about it?
Sometimes people make their goals too big which becomes discouraging, causing them to give up entirely. By making a few slight adjustments they could feel better about it, gain momentum, and stay on track.
You can modify your goal by reducing the end goal (from $100K/yr in sales to $80K/yr) or by pushing out the timeline to achieve it (from ‘lose 20 pounds by 2/28’ to ‘by our planned vacation starting 6/1’). Warning: this is not an opportunity to slack off – be sure to stay focused and monitor your progress weekly.
6. Do I need more support or dedicated help?
If you made adjustments and followed through on the suggestions above but you’re still struggling, get additional support. Find a buddy to work out with, have an accountability partner for your business goals, or ask someone to mentor you at work to help with your career goals.
If you are really serious and ready for change, hire a professional coach. I say this not because I am one, but because of my personal experience and the feedback I get from my clients.
In the past I’ve hired coaches and not hired coaches for specific goals or life challenges, and when I work with my professional coach I see better results, faster results and get insights and a new perspective I couldn’t have come up with on my own.
Click here to learn more about working with me as your professional coach.