This is the time of year when people are trying to turn over a new leaf. The beginning of the year marks a point where people make New Year’s Resolutions. Unfortunately, many fail to keep those resolutions. In fact, 81 percent of resolution's fail within two years. The top New Year's resolutions rarely change year to year. The most popular typically revolve around losing weight, managing stress, getting out of debt, quitting smoking, and learning a new skill.
Personally I recommend forgetting the whole concept of resolutions and concentrating on setting goals instead. Resolutions and goal setting may seem similar, but resolutions typically take a let's start something and see what happens approach, while goal setting is about planning a specific path to success.
Goal setting is a process whereby you decide what you want to achieve and set up a plan to do it. The very first step of goal setting is to, first, determine what you want at the end of the journey. That is your ultimate destination. Some people say that goal setting is just a matter of sitting down and deciding what to do. If you fully intend to achieve your goals, you should perceive goal setting as an extremely powerful process of personal planning.
These practical tips on goal setting can help make it easier to set and reach goals:
- Specific, realistic goals work best. When it comes to making a change, the people who succeed are those who set realistic, specific goals. And that makes it easier to stick with.
- It takes time for a change to become an established habit. It will probably take a couple of months before any changes — like getting up half an hour early to exercise — become a routine part of your life. That's because your brain needs time to get used to the idea that this new thing you're doing is part of your regular routine.
- Repeating a goal makes it stick. Say your goal out loud each morning to remind yourself of what you want and what you're working for. (Writing it down works too.) Every time you remind yourself of your goal, you're training your brain to make it happen.
- Involve others. It is always good to involve others in the process of setting and achieving goals. Take advice when necessary. And don’t be rigid. There are people out there who are better at this. Their suggestions are always valuable.
- Make an action plan. So you have set goals, written them down and now you are all set to start working towards achieving them. First step – make an action plan. There could be more than one method to achieve a goal. Which one suits you? Decide on it.
- Track progress. Extremely important. If you don’t track progress, you don’t get an idea if you are going the right way and if you would ever achieve it in the time frame you had set in your mind. So track your progress everyday. There are various methods and tools to track progress and I’ll discuss them in detail in my next article.
- Roadblocks don't mean failure. Slip-ups are actually part of the learning process as you retrain your brain into a new way of thinking. It may take a few tries to reach a goal. But that's OK — it's normal to mess up or give up a few times when trying to make a change. So remember that everyone slips up and don't beat yourself up about it. Just remind yourself to get back on track.
- Persist. Don’t give up. As I mentioned, there could be many paths leading to the same destination. Try out different methods. Learn and improve. Be patient. Be persistent.
No strategy is set in stone, which makes the goal setting process a dynamic endeavor. Consider yourself a coach on the sidelines, continuously referring to playbooks and constantly re-evaluating strategies and players or making adjustments at halftime. Set goals, and execute on them—but be sure to evaluate those goals year-round, not solely during performance reviews. The more you monitor individual objectives, the greater the likelihood that they will be on target and fulfilled.