There are a few reasons why New Year’s Resolutions don’t work (besides the fact that getting very drunk the night before trying to lose an aggressive amount of weight makes it difficult) the way you want them to.
First, we lose motivation, we lose sight of the end goal, we get frustrated…take your pick. Our resolutions don’t tend to be small feats of personal strength (e.g. you don’t say on 12/31, “This year, I’m going to lose 1 pound.”); we set lofty, aspirational goals that will change the very type of person we are.
Second, our New Year’s Resolution is a “macro” goal, meaning something long-term that will require a dedicated amount of planning and execution.
Therefore, the problem with setting a goal like this is it lacks a system by which you’ll accomplish it. We are so outcome oriented; we just want the result, and want it as soon as possible. What we should be focused on is the process. This will provide repeatable success through a framework.
3 Hidden Goal Setting Challenges
Here are three hidden challenges in goal setting and how to set up a better system to solve them.
1) Be Honest with Your Priorities.
We are really good at negotiating with ourselves when it comes time to set goals. “I’ll start tomorrow…right after I have this last piece of cake.” Or, “I’ll start my new workout routine on Monday…right after I have a huge weekend of travel and partying.”
You have more priorities in life than accomplishing your goal. You’ve got a job, relationships, personal interests, a social life, and you need sleep. Start by being honest with the timeline needed to accomplish your goal, and be honest about where your other priorities may take precedence or require your energy.
2) Provide Goal Incentives Along the Way.
We are motivated by rewards; the problem is, however, we only think about the reward we want to give ourselves afterwe’ve completed our big goal. Consider ways in which you can incentivize yourself along the path, which can be smaller and quicker in nature.
An example might be new shoes mid-marathon training (something you’ll use in pursuit of your bigger goal and you’ll be excited to use as you continue to train).
3) Find an Accountability Partner.
You’re more likely to keep going when you’re accountable to someone other than yourself. An accountability partner might include a coach (that you hire), a peer working for the same goal, a social group you work with, or a community of people that will support you.
It is the systems we set up that guarantee our long-term success. Part of building these systems is doing a review of where you typically fall short. Is it on the accountability side? Do you struggle to prioritize what you need to do today (vs. tomorrow)?
“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.”