For many of us, the beginning of a new year symbolizes a clean slate for us to commit or recommit to achieving the things that we want in our lives. It gives us a sense of a fresh start, allowing us to focus on what the future could look like and forgive ourselves for not doing the things we promised ourselves 12 months prior. All the excuses we gave to ourselves and others become void and are no longer relevant as we look forward to starting over.
Many of us set goals that focus on fitness, money, careers, relationships, travel, etc and when we start to picture ourselves having achieved all of these things, the feeling is amazing. It makes us feel on top of the world and we begin to see what life would be like having achieved everything we want. However, when we have to start putting the work and effort into our goals, or as I like to call it “when the rubber meets the road”, things tend to fall apart and the commitment we mentally once had for ourselves doesn’t physically show up in the energy and actions we take. The stats show us that only 12% of everyone who makes a new years resolution will experience the taste of victory! The question is why is that number so low?
The hard truth is this - if you're serious about creating a life that you want, you’ve got to put the work and effort into making your goals a reality. No one said change was easy, and it’s not. As Robin Sharma said, “Changing is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end”.
Here are the most common reasons why New Years Resolutions fail:
Is your goal clear enough?
Having a goal such as “I want to lose weight” is soft and non committal. Or “I want to spend more time with my kids” is just fluffy and open ended. Having a clear goal specifically spells out exactly what you want to achieve and by when. This level of detail allows you to measure your progress and it also helps you see the finish line. So using the example of “I want to lose weight”, would turn into something like, “I am going to lose 20 pounds by August 15th 2019”. The family example could go from “I want to spend more time with my kids” to “ I am going to plan out and spend one day every second week with my kids. I will get them involved in planning out an activity or fun trip that we can experience together”.
Do you see and feel the power of being more specific about your goals? It brings them more to life. I love the quote “start with the end in mind” and all your goals should have a clear picture of what you want the end result to look like and when you want them accomplished by.
Is the "why" behind your goal meaningful enough?
Simply put, the bigger the why, the easier the how. So what do we mean by the why. It's the reason behind why you want to accomplish this goal. It's the meaning that achieving the goal has for you personally. People who commit to something where they have a big why will be more committed to dedicate time, effort and resources to achieving their goals no matter what. Excuses and procrastination do not exist in their world. They just get it done.
If your reason behind wanting to lose weight is because you want to look good in front of other people, do you think wanting to please other people is a powerful enough why to wake up in morning and drag yourself to the gym? Who gives a damn anyways about what other people think? However if your why behind wanting to lose 20 pounds by August 15th 2019 is because you want to set an example for your kids or there is a race that you want to do to raise money for a friend of yours who passed away from cancer, now you're talking about a why that has personal meaning to you. One that when motivation is lacking, you can revisit why you set the goal in the first place and that will naturally kick your motivation into high gear again.
How do you know that your why is powerful and meaningful enough? In my experience, you just know. You know in your heart and in your mind. If you're still not sure, share your goal with a friend who you trust. Give them permission to be honest with you and as you tell them what you want to achieve and why, they'll know if it has meaning to you or not.
Have you reverse engineered your goal?
Have you ever had a goal that you've wanted to achieve and on the day you started it, you had no clue what to do next? For example, let’s take the goal of "I am going to lose 20 pounds by August 15th 2019". By reverse engineering the goal, we are going to break down the steps involved with what you need to do and how you are going to achieve this goal. This is the 'what do you need to do step-by-step list' that will help make this goal a reality.
For this example, you might write down the following:
Sign up to the local gym
Get a personal trainer or find a workout online that I can follow
Look up YouTube videos on a good diet
Find a friend to do this with
Find a local event that I can train for
Buy some exercise equipment
Go to bed earlier so I can get up at 5.30AM to work out
Download an app that I can track my progress on
Buy a scale so I can weigh myself
Clean out the food pantry and throw out all the bad things
Chat with my partner to ensure they are supportive of this goal
Commit to going to the gym 3 times a week - schedule that in my calendar
By breaking your goal down into bit sized chunks, you can clearly see what needs to happen for you to truly achieve your goal. Now, you can choose a few of these to focus on over the next week or two and put a plan in place to get them done. Trust me when I say that you'll feel so accomplished when these get done and it will naturally provide tons of motivation to keep going towards your ultimate goal.
If you make your goals CLEAR enough, create a strong enough WHY, and REVERSE ENGINEER them so that you know what steps / things need to be accomplished, you'll be well ahead of everyone around you in ensuring that your commitment to designing a life that you want is set up for success.
Remember, you have your whole life ahead of you. Start living it NOW!