Tag Archives: resolutions

How to Actually Achieve Your Goals this Year

It’s a new year—a fresh start, a new page, a time for renewal and new commitments. It’s an exciting time to improve oneself and set high hopes for the brand-new year. Or is it? Do you find yourself feeling more melancholy than excited in the beginning of January?

At the beginning of last year, I noticed that instead of feeling motivated and excited for the fresh start, I felt…blah. Not so inspired. Not so motivated. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t swept up in the new year rush of positivity.

Upon reflection, I realized that below the surface I felt pressure and anxiety. It was only day three of the new year and I already felt like I was behind; that I wasn’t seizing each day to its fullest to get a jump start on the year. I also felt pressure to make this year better than the last. All of these feelings impacted my normal positive outlook and sent me into a three-week funk.

Instead of feeling hopeful for the year, I felt pressure to make it better than the last. Not exactly a great way to start the year.

Looking back a year later, I had my best year ever in 2017. Even though I didn’t feel enthusiastic at the beginning of the year, my habits eventually overtook my fears and helped me to make progress over the year before.

If you feel a bit of dread this time of year, you are not alone. Starting the year feeling less than enthusiastic doesn’t have to negatively impact your year. You can have a fantastic 2018 and make it your best year yet.

Success speaker Tony Robbins says that most of us overestimate what we can accomplish in one year and underestimate what we can accomplish in ten years.

Below are six strategies for actually achieving your goals this year:

Goals, not resolutions.

The traditional new year “resolutions” are rarely successful. It’s been reported that only 8% of people actually stick to their resolutions. The definition of resolution is “a firm decision to do or not to do something”. It takes an enormous amount of discipline to completely stop doing something or to commit to always do something.

A better approach is to set goals. The best goals are specific, measurable, and future focused. By keeping the language future focused, it keeps you in a positive mindset and empowers you to work toward the goal.

Bad goal: I want to lose 10 pounds

Great goal: I will weigh 135 pounds by June 30, 2018

I’ve learned over the years that fewer goals empower me to actually stick to them. When I have a list of 10 goals, I end up focusing on what I’m not accomplishing than the progress I’m making. I try to keep my list to four to five goals. If I accomplish even half of them, I have made progress over last year.

Slow down to speed up.

The most common cause of overwhelm is a lack of clarity. If you come into the office on Monday and don’t have clarity around the most important things you want to accomplish, then you will probably start by checking your email, and an hour later find yourself on YouTube watching a cat video.

When we don’t have clarity, we procrastinate and whittle our time away doing insignificant things that don’t contribute to our goals. The same is true for annual goals. If you don’t have clarity, you will spend a lot more energy multitasking (which doesn’t work) and not get very far.

You will start the year off busy—running from meeting to meeting, putting out daily fires, trying to keep your inbox below 500 emails—and six months later find yourself wondering where the first half of the year went.

To gain clarity, slow down to speed up. Meaning, slow down to clarify your goals, and once you have clarity, you will be able to accomplish your goals faster and easier. Clarity allows you to not expend unnecessary energy overwhelmed by your to do list of over 30 things, and instead allows you to focus intently on important tasks that will lead you toward more success.

Ease in.

One of the top resolutions people make each year is to get in better shape. Most people approach this by resolving to exercise regularly and eat healthier. These are lofty goals (they are on my list almost every year), yet the challenge can come when we set our expectations too high.

Most experts would say that you should commit to an ideal workout schedule from day one. In my experience, this becomes overwhelming and does not feel sustainable. If you haven’t worked out consistently over the past year and then create a goal for working out four times a week, you can quickly become demotivated.

It may be against conventional wisdom, but ease into your goals. Create a goal that is realistic for you, yet will also motivate you to continue.

For example, perhaps the first two weeks you set a goal to work out twice a week and then increase it to three times in week three or four. Easing in allows you to adjust to your new way of living so it doesn’t feel so abrupt.

If you are someone who can create a lofty goal, jump right in, and never look back, then do it! Do what works for you. For the rest of us (the 92%), easing in is much more sustainable.

Reverse Plan.

This one strategy can be a game changer for achieving your goals this year. I started using this strategy about four years ago when I ended the year feeling totally exhausted and depleted.

I had a really busy year in my business, and had failed to plan a vacation. I remember opening my calendar mid-year looking for a week I could schedule some time off, and there wasn’t one week without appointments or commitments for the rest of the year. I pushed through that year with very little time off and promised myself I would never have a year like that again.

At the beginning of the next year, I sat down one day and planned the most important things in my life and scheduled them in my calendar—the doctor appointments, vacations, blog writing days, conferences, school activities, and dates with my husband.

I call this reverse planning because it’s the reverse of what most people do. Most of us go about our normal work and then try to fit in the important things later. That rarely works.

Planning ahead and being deliberate with your time will ensure the most important things are scheduled. Two important things for leaders to reverse plan are coaching sessions with your employees and strategy days (days you devote completely to strategic goals). Now is the time to schedule these important events before your calendar fills up.

Measure backwards.

One of my business mentors, Dan Sullivan, says one mistake most of us make in measuring our goals is that we measure forward instead of backward.

Let’s say at the beginning of the year you weigh 150 pounds, and you set a goal to weigh 135 pounds by June 30th. On June 30th, if you weigh 140 pounds, you technically did not achieve your goal. Most of us will focus on what we didn’t achieve rather than what we did achieve.

So, you didn’t achieve 135 pounds, but you still lost 10 pounds! Dan Sullivan calls this focusing on “the gap”. Instead of focusing on the progress, we focus on the gap between what we did and what we wanted to do. Progress is an evolution. Nothing happens overnight.

Forgive yourself.

Being human means you will likely hit some bumps throughout the year and fall off the wagon. Maybe you had a weak moment and somehow found yourself eating Nutella straight from the jar (I confess), you miss your workouts for weeks in a row, or you haven’t had coaching sessions with your employees for months.

You can spend your energy ruminating on your failures, or you can forgive yourself, get back up, and do better tomorrow. After years of ruminating, I have found forgiveness to be much more pleasant.

There are two books I recommend to inspire you to achieve your goals this year: The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, and The Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen. Small steps throughout the year lead to big results. Every choice we make either leads us toward what we want or away from what we want. Don’t underestimate the power in the small daily choices.

A Vision Exercise for the New Year

Organizations that have a vision of where they want to go and can align the entire organization around that vision create momentum towards their goals. Just like it’s important to create a vision in an organization, if you want to make positive changes in your life, creating a vision for each area of your life can be a powerful way to get clarity around what you want.

One of the main reasons why most people don’t get what they want is that they haven’t decided what they want. A vision is a mental picture of a preferred future.

As you prepare for the new year, first take a look back on the past year to set yourself up for continued success. Following are some questions to contemplate.

  • What were my biggest achievements, both personal and professional, in the past year?. This sets you in a positive frame of mind and creates energy around progress and accomplishments from the year.
  • What were my biggest learnings in the past year? Once you have reflected on your accomplishments and learnings from the past year, turn your attention to the coming year.

Imagine it is December of next year. What would you like your life to be like, both professionally and personally, one year from now? Close your eyes and let your mind wander about your ideal life one year from now. If you find it challenging to visualize your ideal life, take one area of your life at a time. Following is a list of the seven most important areas of life with a few starter questions to get you thinking. This is about what you want, so let your mind visualize what would be ideal for you. Take one area at a time, close your eyes and visualize for a few minutes, then open your eyes and write down your vision.

Financial: What is your ideal annual income and monthly cash flow? How much money do you have in savings? What other financial goals would you like to achieve in the next year?

Job/Career: Where are you working? What are you doing? Did you receive a promotion that you have been working toward? Are there other job achievements you want to accomplish?

Recreation: How do you spend your free time? Are there hobbies you are pursuing? Is there a family trip you want to take? What do you do for fun?

Physical health: Do you exercise and eat healthy food? Are you disease free or pain free? Are you taking a class at a local gym? Exercising outside? Drinking more water? How does your body feel? Are you flexible and full of energy?

Relationships: What are your relationships like with the important people in your life? What kinds of things do you do together? Are your relationships loving and supportive?

Personal: are there areas you want to develop in? Are you going back to school, taking a cooking class, or learning a new language? Are you traveling to other countries? Running a marathon? Meditating regularly?

Service /Community: Are you volunteering in your community or involved in other work that makes a difference? Who are you helping?

Based on what you visualized, what are three to five goals you would like to focus on for the next year? Is there a specific area of your life you would like to improve?

Once you have determined the most important goals you want to set for the new year, the next step is to create specific actions and timelines. One of the main reasons why many people don’t make traction on their goals is that they are too vague. Goals should be specific enough to create clarity so you know exactly how to take action. There is a difference between an intention and an effective goal.

  • Intention: Improve engagement on my department team
  • Goal: I will meet with each of my employees and ask them how they like to be recognized by February 15, 2017

Once you have taken the time to visualize your ideal life one year from now and created your most important goals, spend time each day visualizing your goals as completed. This will keep you energized about your goals so that you can stay connected to them and create momentum toward achieving them.

Now I’d love to hear from you: What is the vision you have for one area of your life, one year from now?

Share your vision in the comments section below.

Making The New Year Awesome

Only 8% of people achieve their new year resolutions. Is it even worth setting goals? I believe the answer is yes. There is a way to set realistic goals and make significant progress in the new year.

Like many people, I take time to reflect and make commitments for the fresh new year approaching. I believe in setting goals and improving, and over the years, I have enhanced and changed my process for creating “resolutions”. I’ve figured out what works for achieving my goals, and most importantly, what doesn’t work. I don’t believe there is one formula for making changes;  each person is different and will respond differently.

Here are the lessons I have learned for achieving new year goals:

Lesson 1: Less is more

I used to make a laundry list of goals for the new year: learn Italian, improve piano playing skills, exercise more, etc. You get the picture. What I found is that when I set too many “stretch goals,” I become overwhelmed and just give up. I end up feeling worse about myself because I failed to achieve the goals I set. A few years ago, I started taking time to imagine my ideal life. What would the ideal look like in health, relationships, and business? I keep my goals realistic. I really take time to think through what resources and time I have and I focus on making progress instead of achieving a list. I would rather make significant progress on three goals than very little progress on ten goals. I have learned how much I am capable of taking on and create my goals accordingly. This creates freedom. Rather than being  chained to a list, I work on making incremental progress.

Lesson 2: Measure each day

I find small steps lead to bigger progress for me. I switched from setting weekly goals to setting daily goals. I take the ideal life I envisioned and think about ways I can close the gap. I focus on making an impact in this day. Focusing on today takes the overwhelm and judgment away and gives me permission to make choices that feel good now. Inevitably, I end up succeeding with more of my goals when I focus on today. At the end of the year, if I can look back and see progress from the year before, to me that is success. The compound effect is very powerful.

Lesson 3: Focus on the being, not the doing

I am a doer. I love lists and crossing things off. I love the feeling of accomplishment. And when I focus on checking things off, I often lose the intention of my goal. For example, for years I have wanted to incorporate meditation into my ritual. I read books on meditation and tried to meditate, and my mind was racing. I was trying too hard to “do” meditation correctly. I often found myself wanting to check it off my list rather than get the full experience and benefits. And that’s just pointless. This past year, I focused instead on the “being”. The purpose of meditation is to clear and quiet your mind. So, I sat quietly with music, closed my eyes and kept quiet. I am not great at it, but I get benefit from it, and I am improving over time.

What has worked for you when setting goals?

Wishing you an awesome year!