Happy New Year! Yes, 2016 is here and you may have decided upon one or a few resolutions. The most common goals can include becoming healthier, losing weight, obtaining a promotion, finding a new job, reducing debt, creating quality time with the ones we love, and on and on. The start of a new year can trigger feelings of excitement because it’s the perfect time to reflect upon the possibilities ahead for us! However, we should also take some time to recognize common pitfalls that can keep us from meeting our goals. I’ll share three reasons for failure and as importantly, I’ll share how to get past them so you can succeed.
1. You Haven’t Clearly Defined Your Resolution (Goal).
Can you state simply what your goal is? If it’s to become healthier then you must have an idea of what that looks like. Is it to run a specific distance? Or maybe to bench press a certain amount? Or maybe it’s to lose a certain number of pounds? Whatever it is, use the acronym SMART to help you!
For example, let’s say you decide that ‘being healthier’ means being able to run a 5K (a race that is 3.1 miles). Now let’s bring in SMART to help us. The S stands for Specific (i.e., run a 5K); the M means Measurable (i.e., in under 30 minutes); the A means Achievable (i.e., the time set is challenging but possible); the R is Realistic (i.e., I’ve talked to my doc and she’s cleared me); and finally, the T stands for Timely (i.e., run the 5K by August).
So take a few minutes to write out your SMART resolution because having a clear goal in mind is fundamental to success!
2. Your Doubts Are Overtaking You
When it comes to reaching our goals and achieving our resolutions, some days are harder than others. Early on we have lots of motivation to drive us but maybe after some time we begin to feel doubt as to whether we can reach our goal. I’m here to tell you that you must believe in yourself.
Yes, I said believe in yourself. You can do it. You created a SMART resolution that you know you can accomplish. Yes, it’s a lot of hard work. Yes, you aren’t going to want to work towards it all the time. Yes, you may fail on some days. But DO NOT let that stop you. Get right back in there and keep working. I believe in you. I know you can do this. A great strategy for this is to tell others about your resolution and ask them to support you. Share your goals with family, friends, and peers that are in your corner and want you to succeed. You can ask them to check in with you on a regular basis so you can share your progress. Knowing you are accountable to others can be a motivating force. If you are comfortable with it and feel it is appropriate, you can also use social media to share your journey via posts, pictures, and videos. But above all…Believe in Yourself!
3. Your Motivation is Misguided
The final reason we may fail at our goal is because our motivation is misguided and so our willpower is not firing on all cylinders. What I mean is that it is important to recognize why you want to reach this goal. Are you doing this for you or for someone else? While external motivation does have a place in keeping us moving, the most lasting changes are the result of internal motivation.
So, consider resolutions and goals that are all about what YOU want to change. And when you know this, you will be more likely to have the willpower to see it through. Please remember that willpower is just like a muscle, which means you have to work on it to make it stronger. It is not a simple matter of some people having willpower and others not having any. It’s a combination of mental energy to decide you can do it, along with the practice of finding ways to keep your willpower strong. Willpower is individualistic but here are a few ways to keep it going: a) avoid situations that can zap your willpower; b) use habits to conserve your willpower as it’s easier to fall back on an effective habit than rely on your willpower to get you out of a sticky situation; and c) outsmart yourself with ways to pre-commit yourself to succeeding, such as setting up a reminder or establishing an automatic withdrawal so you don’t have to make a decision and force your willpower to act.
Establishing SMART resolutions, believing in yourself, and remaining conscious of your willpower are 3 ways to help reach your resolutions and goals for the year.
Here’s to you with a fond wish for much success this year!
Rachel Castellon, PhD, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
HRSS Consulting Group