It’s here - that time of year… that time when we close one chapter, open another, and promise ourselves that, this time, it’ll be different. But it never is, is it?
And that’s because many of us are wasting this ‘clean slate’ opportunity that the New Year brings. As the clock flips from 11:59 to 12:00, it’s like we’re starting out completely fresh, and psychologically-speaking, this is an excellent starting point for making a change. But within 30 days, only a quarter of us are still on track, and by the end of the year, just 8% have achieved their goals and accomplished their New Year’s resolutions.
So just why are New Year’s Resolutions so hard to stick to? A big part of it is that we’re taking the wrong approach to setting our goals and working towards achieving them.
As a career and confidence coach, I work with a lot of people who come to me and say ‘this is what I want to achieve, this is my goal’. Great. Understanding what you want is the first step in making it happen. But when I press for a little more detail, it becomes clear that these goals have been set without any sort of foundation holding them up.
Setting goals without a foundation is like deciding to bake a cake without a recipe; you’re setting yourself a mission that you can’t possibly achieve because you don’t know what steps you need to take. It’s no wonder so many New Year’s resolutions fail!
A great example is weight loss, which after the indulgence of Christmas is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. Setting a goal to ‘lose weight’ isn’t particularly productive; it’s too vague. How are you going to try and lose weight? What changes are you going to make? What sort of progress do you want to see? See what I mean?
It’s much better to set goals that are specific and clear. So rather than setting a goal to lose weight, you could try setting a goal to get out for a walk every day, a goal to make healthier food choices, or a goal to get back into an old, tight pair of jeans.
It’s the same sort of thing when it comes to achieving your goals. There needs to be a bit more of something behind your mission. Let’s stick to the same example as before. So, you’ve decided you want to lose weight, and you’ve set a goal to go for a walk every day. But here’s a question you need to be asking yourself… why do you care?
I know it sounds silly, but simply wanting to achieve a goal sometimes isn’t enough. We all want things yet don’t do anything about it. I wanted to take a shower and 'do' my hair this morning, but I didn’t want it enough to get out of bed 10 minutes earlier. But if I knew I was meeting with a client, or seeing friends for lunch, I’d have had a motivator to do it.
So pause, and really have a think about why you’ve set the goal that you have. That’s your motivator to keep going. Perhaps you want to improve your health, maybe lower your blood pressure or cholesterol levels. Perhaps you want to look great on the beach next summer. Always make sure you can align your goal with an actual desire or need.
The Wagon’s Not Going Anywhere
Guess what. People mess up. I mess up, you mess up, Bob down the road messes up. No one can be 100% perfect 100% of the time. And that’s OK! And it’s really important to know that. Had a few too many down the pub and stopped for a kebab on the way home?
Bummer. But the wagon isn’t riding off without you. It’s still there, and it’s waiting for you to hop back on. And that’s the difference between someone that’s going to stick to their resolution, and someone who’s going to fail: the ability to get back up there.