This is my last article for a while on goals and resolutions, outside of Goals Mastery. Enjoy, let me know what you thought of this series, and sign up for Goals Mastery – the articles these past four weeks have just been the tip of the iceberg of everything you can do to ensure that your goals and resolutions happen.
On our way to achieving goals, a funny thing happens: we give up. Why is that? In the past few weeks, we’ve seen that it may be due to a lack of motivation; to the fact that we forgot to set up the stage and make it easier for us to do things; or we’re taking on too much at once.
There is a third, critical factor to giving up on a goal: we hate the journey! Think about it: how likely are you to follow through on an exercise regimen if you hate it, no matter how much you would benefit from the added fitness? How likely are you to stick to a time management system if you loathe it, no matter how much you know that this will make your life easier? Read the rest of this entry »
People who choose lifestyle changes (eat better, exercise more, stop smoking, be more organized, etc.) as New Year’s resolutions tend to fail – even if they go about it in small steps, as mentioned earlier this month – for two main reasons: lack of behavior substitution, and lack of long-term thinking.
There is a very important secret that people don’t tell you about how to make goals happen. Everyone will tell you that it’s essential to making your goals SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-specific). And yes, it is absolutely necessary… but it is not sufficient.
In order for a goal to really stick, and for you to be able to achieve it, you have to truly want it, and you have to be able to visualize it. If those two elements are absent, you are bound to failure.
So what do I mean by truly want it? There are many things we say we want, yet don’t achieve. This is because we want them only intellectually (and we could replace ‘want’ with ‘should’), or emotionally (you know when you’re emotional). In order for goals to stick, you have to want them with your full being. When you want something with your full being, your intellect, your emotions and your gut all want the same thing.
How do you want something with your full being? I wish there was an easy recipe to make “full-being” decisions, but there unfortunately isn’t. However, here is a proven way to get closer to it: Look at the bad results of not following through on your resolution (the ‘pain’). Then look at all the good things that will happen if you do follow through on your resolution (the motivation).
If the pain is something you can live with, and/or the motivation is not strong enough, your decision to stick with your resolution will not be a “full-being” one. Find other pains and motivations, that spur you to action more.
This may mean re-framing your resolution, for instance from ‘I want to lose weight’ to ‘I want to be able to run with my children and catch up to them’, ‘I want to still be there when my children get married’, or ‘I don’t want to have the poor lifestyle-based quality of life my parents have when I reach their age.’
The second secret to making goals happen is to be able to visualize the result. If you don’t have a picture of where you want to go, of what your goal will look like, it’s hard to stick to it. After all, without a clear destination it’s tough to get there, no matter how determined you are to get there.
For instance, it’s not enough to say that you want to organize your office and finally have all your papers in order. You also have to be able to visualize what it will look like, feel like, be like, and how you will feel having this new environment. If your goal is a completely new experience for you, it may be easier to picture yourself in someone else’s shoes who’s already done it, such as a friend who became organized.
Now go back to the goals you set for yourself this year. Are they SMART? More importantly, are they goals that you truly want to achieve with every fiber of your being (you know you do when you feel like there is no if and but, it just has to be)? Do you have an inspiring vision of what the results of achieving them will look like?
The beginning of the year is often the time when people decide to eat more healthily, exercise more, stop smoking, keep their desk clear of paper, be more on time, etc.
Unfortunately, most go about it in the worst possible way: make a big change – a complete diet overhaul, suddenly go to the gym for an hour every day, stop smoking cold turkey, create a brand new schedule with a brand new time management system, etc.
No wonder that they give up after just a few weeks! Making such big changes in life require a huge amount of willpower, discipline and focus that most of us don’t have available in the hustle and bustle of every day life and all of the other things that require our attention.
So how do you successfully make lifestyle changes, and in a way that works? In two words, small steps. It’s much more effective – and sustainable over the long term – to make progressive, small changes and will lead you to the lifestyle change you want, without effort.
For instance, start by substituting water for sodas and juices you drink; then add more vegetables to your diet; then eliminate one common sweet from your diet; then… until you get to a healthy diet. It will require a lot less willpower, discipline and focus, and will build habits, which are the key to long-term change. If you want to manage your time better, start simple: turn off your email alarm and resolve to check your email only 3 times a day; once it’s become a habit, add creating an effective to-do list; etc.
To make this strategy even more effective, you may also want to change your environment to support your change. Eliminate what doesn’t support you, and make readily available what will support your new habit.
For instance, take all junk food out of your house, and place in evidence healthy alternatives, such as fruit, carrots, etc. Or even just put things in cabinets in opaque containers. Studies show that the mere fact of moving a candy jar 6 feet away from someone and replacing the glass bowl with an opaque, unlabeled container reduces the intake of candy by over 60%. If time management is your goal, organize your desk so it’s not cluttered, have a single place to write your to-do’s, close your email so you’re not tempted to look at it every 5 minutes.
Finally, remember to plan. Plan for the times when you know your resolve may waver, or when you’ll be exposed to temptations.
To take another example, if you know you’ll go to a party with an open buffet, which tends to by your downfall, how can you prevent it? Maybe it’s going there with your stomach already half full. Or maybe you’re thinking ahead of time about what will be off limits and what you can indulge. As far as time is concerned, if you know you have a hard time saying no when someone asks you to do something even when you don’t want to, practice ways to avoid saying yes and giving you the time to think about it away from pressure, for instance.
Using those three powerful tips will allow you to actually make the lifestyle changes that you want to make.
For more on the topic, and for how to successfully achieve goals, don’t hesitate to sign up for Goals Mastery, a teleclass happening on January 31. There you’ll learn everything you’ll ever need to know to make happen any goal you have, including an extensive workbook to go with it.
At this point in my career, I rarely learn something from new books or articles, but every once in a while, something truly new, simple and effective comes along. The 10-10-10 rule is one of them.
A few years ago, I was reading an issue of O, the Oprah Magazine, when I came across an article by Suzy Welch (current wife of Jack Welch, mother of 4 and accomplished professional in her own right). In it she described a way she had devised to make decisions in cases where she had conflicting priorities and no easy way to determine which one was more important than the other. She called it the 10-10-10 rule:
Read the rest of this entry »
Recently, a client called me for a session because he had trouble sticking to his goals. We talked about creating habits rather than goals. We talked about making the process itself enjoyable. We talked about motivation, and about keeping a symbol or picture of his goal in front of him at all times, to remind him of the why of his goal. He implemented all this, but it still wasn’t enough. It was hard for him to resist, on a day-to-day basis, the temptations of immediate gratification (or apparent gratification). It also was very easy to give in to the discouragement he felt when he apparently wasn’t making any headway, or had slipped up in his daily actions.
After some brainstorming, we found the problem: Read the rest of this entry »
Recently, I set out to change some of my habits, and create new ones…
Ok, I’ll be fully honest and admit publicly: I’ve decided that I want to be back to my fit weight. This requires some changes in my diet, among which tracking my food intake and doing some exercise every day. I set out, in accordance with the method I outlined for you on how to create new habits and change old ones, to make very simple changes to my routine to get started on that road. In my case, I started with tracking my food intake (no judgment, just tracking), and power-walking at least 15 minutes a day. I started to do this, and faithfully did it for a week or so. Then a day came when I didn’t do one of those simple things. Then another day, a few days later. It wasn’t so important, I was still doing my habits most of the time.
After a little while, I realized that putting in practice my small daily habits “most of the time” had come to mean “half of the time”. Read the rest of this entry »
A client of mine, an accomplished professional who was working with me to get to the next level, in the course of a conversation, complained to me that resolutions, especially New Year’s resolutions, never work. Every year she was making new (or often the same) resolutions, start the year with a bang, but come February, she would usually have abandoned them. So she had come to the conclusion that they don’t work, and it’s better not to make any.
She was right. It is true that the vast majority of New Year’s Resolutions fail. Not because the people who make them are not motivated or smart enough – my client was abundantly blessed with both – but because resolutions don’t work. They don’t work because: Read the rest of this entry »