It’s New Years. It’s that time that the gyms are swarmed with new members, diet adds are flooding our TV’s, and gurus are abound with the newest and quickest way to be happier, save more, or become financially free! After all, an average of 45% of americans make a New Year’s resolution. Who can blame them, it is a great time to reflect on your past success from the prior year, and determine what your future goals will be for the impending one. Unfortunately, only 8% of people feel the actually succeed in accomplishing their New Years Resolutions, and 24% fail on their resolutions year after year.
So why is that we see such little success when our intentions are true, positive, and we know would create a better, happier life? The answer is simple; HABITS. As unfortunate as it is, humans love their habits of either DOING or NOT DOING. Whether it’s a habit of doing something like smoking, eating too much, or procrastinating, you’ve conditioned your body to comply with your habit every day without fail. It has become your “norm”. Why is it easier to eat or watch TV instead of work out? Because you are in the habit of doing those things instead of going to the gym! You are NOT in the habit of working out. If you want to quit smoking but are in the habit of smoking a cigarette once, twice, or even three times a day, well you’re in the habit of smoking! In order to break an unwanted habit, you need to get out of the habit of NOT DOING and DO the activity that well help you reach your new goal.
Research has shown that it takes a mere 21 days to break OR create a habit if it’s carried out consistently. The trouble is that most people break them after a few days and don’t allow them selves the full 3 week commitment it takes to see results and make it a natural part of your life. If you can stick to it and work hard at your goal for the initial 21 days, your chances of long term success skyrocket! Remember, if it takes 21 days to make a new habit, it can take 21 days to easily break it, so it’s important not to “fall back” into your old ways even if you make it through your three week period.
Another reason for short lived success is from choosing too many resolutions to tackle at once. I suggest conquering each individual goal until they have truly become a new habit and are a consistent part of your life. It’s easy to fall back into your old unwanted self without proper support, guidance, and motivation to stay consistent so reach out to someone who is working toward the same goal or is like minded and could be seen as a positive role model for your success.
Planning for your Goals
I like to start my year off with a few exercises to help my mind get focused on what I want to to achieve, visualize how I will achieve it, and then focus on the feeling I will get when I accomplish them. Tony Robbins explains in his book Awaken the Giant Within when a person has a deep associations with pain, they are more likely to reach a goal or overcome an obstacle. Pain is a stronger motivator than pleasure. We know losing weight will bring us pleasure, but we stop because the pain of working out keeps us from doing what it takes. If you can associate enough pain to your current habits or situation, then you can transform that into motivation to accomplishing your new goal/habit.
If you’re not sure where to start, I like to do a pain association exercise I read about in the book Turning Terrible Into Terrific from the author Dennis Cummings. The exercise requires you to think about what areas of life cause you the most pain, and typically are the areas you most want to improve on most. Close your eyes and think about your life, think of everything you’re tired of dealing with. What causes you the most pain? What makes you embarrassed? What frustrates you or stresses you out? Write down EVERYTHING you can think of and then more! If you stop for a second, keep going! It can be as big as “I’m tired of not being able to pay my bills” or “I’m tired of being overweight and feeling tired and fat”. It can even be as simple as “I’m tired of working too much”or “I’m tired of not being able to go on vacations”. After you write them all down, think about which ones cause you the most pain (most likely the first ones that came to mind) and order those from 1 – 10 (1 being the worst pain, 10 being the least). From there, narrow these down to your top 5 and turn them into specific goals.
Writing Explicit Goals
It’s important when making goals that you are specific, precise, and use language that does not imply wishing, trying, will, or possibility. Here’s an example goal,
“I’m tired of being overweight and fat, I am healthy, I eat foods that are good for me, and I workout daily!”
Your goals should also have action steps such as, “I workout daily” – by using the word ‘daily’ you are giving yourself an attainable, measurable goal to reach and are setting an expectation for yourself as well. They should also use positive language that implies you are already doing what it takes NOW. By saying “I am”, and “I eat”, you are telling yourself you are in the habit of doing those things. Whether you currently are or not, your brain will condition itself to believe that you are and the act will happen more naturally to you. Last but not least – READ THEM aloud to yourself daily! Post your goals where you will see it with your morning cup of coffee, tea, or breakfast. Put them at your desk, in your car, or wherever you will see them, read them and believe them as much as possible.
I’m a big believer in goal setting and planning and firmly believe in the power of setting goals. You should always be working on you, and if New Year’s is the time to start then power to you and plan on! I wish you the best success in 2015!