Today, we’re getting down to business.
Fair warning: If you want me to validate that you can keep doing the same thing and that 2017 will magically bring you new results due to some cosmic alignment finally working out in your favor, this is not the post for you.
If, however, you really want to make a change and are willing to risk trying something new, then I urge you to read on.
But first, if you haven’t checked out Part 1 of this 2 Part Series on New Year’s Resolutions, I highly recommend you stop and read “How To Reflect & Select Your New Year’s Resolution.” Not only because Part 1 comes before Part 2 (duh!), but also because the warm, fuzzy, spiritual, half of me wrote that post and she is notably absent from this post. Why?
Because today, we’re turning all your introspective work from last week into an actionable, tangible, goal for 2017 that you can (and will!) achieve. I tested out this exact methodology on myself and of the 10 outcomes I wanted to achieve in 2016, I accomplished 9. Not too shabby! So, let’s jump in:
Ever wonder why most New Year’s resolutions fall apart in the first 3 weeks? No, it’s not your willpower or because “life got in the way,” it’s because a vague goal leads to vague actions which leads to…you guessed it: vague results! We avoid setting real goals and instead make resolutions like, “I want to get healthy” so we don't have to be held accountable to what we truly want. Sounds harsh, but it's true. And trust me, I get how terrifying it is! An undefined intention means we don’t have to feel like a failure when it doesn’t happen. And while it keeps us safe, it also keeps us stuck.
If you’ve typically set resolutions that are dreams and not goals, you’re not alone. I see this with my clients all the time. A busy mom recently told me her goal is "to create more work-life balance.” And while that sounds great, it isn’t clear what actions she'll take or how she’ll even know when she achieves it. You may have heard of SMART goals before (the acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound), but chances are that if you’re creating resolutions or setting goals, they aren’t hitting each point.
Here’s how to define your goal and make it happen:
(BTW, I’ve included a worksheet you can use to implement the steps I outline below. Bonus: It includes my go-to strategy to maintain motivation when the couch calls my name. Download it here.)
1. Select the Specific thing you want to achieve.
Your goal should clearly define what you’re going to do. It should outline what you’ll achieve and how you'll get there. Be sure to include the exact steps you’ll take.
Example. Instead of “I want more work-life balance,” try “I will take daily action to create more balance by prioritizing self-care in the form of: Meditating for 10 min each day, action #2, action #3, etc.”
2. Make it Measurable.
Here’s where most people get tripped up. Not only does your overall goal need to be quantified, but so does each action step. This will help you to take feasible steps, maintain motivation, build momentum, and tell you exactly how much progress you’ve made toward your goal.
To make actions measurable, be precise:
Example. Instead of saying “I’ll leave work at work,” try “On weekdays, I won’t check my email past 8 pm. On weekends, I will only check it once per day.”
To make your overall goal measurable, define your starting point:
Measure how many actions you currently take toward your goal and compare it to the number of actions at the end of your goal. Or, rate your ability/level of success on a scale of 1-10 now and at the end of your goal.
Example. If you exercise once per week, instead of saying “I’ll work out more,” try “I will go to the gym 3 times per week for 45-60 minutes.”
3. You only Attain what you act on.
An attainable goal is not dependent on others, your circumstances, or winning the lottery. In our work-life balance example, a poor indicator of success would be the amount of work assigned to you. While that relates to your goal, you can’t control what your boss tells you to do. You can, however, change how you respond.
Example. “When I’m assigned a new task at work, I will communicate with my boss about due dates, project priorities, what’s currently on my plate, and what can be delegated.”
Goals should be achievable. They should stretch you slightly so you feel challenged, but still be within your grasp. A common mistake I see clients make is trying to break goals into smaller pieces in an effort to make them more attainable. This is a slippery slope. For example, while saying you want to lose 5 lbs in 1 month is more realistic than losing 10 lbs., you can’t control your metabolism. Instead, focus on the action steps that promote you achieving your goal.
Example. “I will take daily action to increase my self-care by drinking 8 glasses of water each day, action #2, action #3, etc.”
The goal is not about the outcome, it’s about your ability to take consistent action toward that outcome.
4. Relevant, not random.
EVERY action step needs to be directly related to your goal. Don’t throw random “nice-to-haves” in there. For example, I had a client whose goal was centered around finding a new job. In her inspired and motivated goal-setting state, she wanted to add an action step of 20 minutes of yoga per day. While some may argue that yoga is great for everything, it’s not directly related and, thus, doesn’t belong in her goal. When selecting relevant action steps, ask yourself, “does this action directly impact my ability to achieve this goal?” If it doesn’t get you closer to your goal, don’t include it.
5. Time-Bound = Success-Bound.
It doesn’t matter whether you love or hate due dates, your goal still needs one. Pick a date that’s far enough that you’ll see results, but close enough that you can maintain motivation to achieve it. Linking your goal to a timeframe creates a practical sense of urgency and creates a healthy discomfort between where you are and where you’d like to be. My advice? Choose a date that’s 1, 2, or 3 months from now. It’s long enough that you can see a change, short enough to be relevant, and will allow you to fine-tune your actions should you continue for the rest of the year.
Use these steps (and bonus worksheet) to ensure you get results. Or, you can have the same new year’s resolution next year. The choice is yours.
Here’s to a bigger, better, and brighter 2017!
To learn more about virtual coaching or one-on-one support with your goal, click here.