Keeping Resolutions Part I - Four Mistakes to Avoid!
January 29, 2015
Read time: 2 minutes Executive Briefing #10 by Jeffrey Cullen
As the end of January approaches, let me ask you:
Has your 3 times/week trip to the gym now tapered to one?
Are those latest business-building strategies appearing less important?
Is tomorrow the day you re-visit your favorite chocolate shop, even though you’ve been on a strict diet since January 1?
If you are not one of those people, congratulations! Keep up the good work.
This breaking of New Year’s resolutions was always the reality for me, too, until I learned about the four common things I was doing wrong. Fortunately, I discovered suggestions about how to do better. (I’m still learning, but I did lose 25 lbs. last year - it’s not coming back!)
# 1 - I didn’t set goals well
There’s a good reason that there are a myriad of books, articles, websites, and other resources devoted to the topic of goal setting. Without a clear destination, your chances of ending up where you want to be are pretty slim.
In my experience, setting good goals is comprised of three things:
Pick Something Meaningful: tie smaller goals to bigger ones (for example, quitting cigarettes to increase your chances of being around to see your grandchildren someday)
Use the S.M.A.R.T. Goals Tool: create goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound.
Pick the One Goal: Be deliberate and disciplined by picking one goal (or two at most) that will lead to the biggest return and contribute to your overall success.
# 2 - I failed to link today’s actions to tomorrow’s success
Important goals like losing 20 lbs. or increasing sales by $1 million can be overwhelming in their magnitude - where do you start?
Breaking big goals into achievable milestones (I will achieve X by Y) and measuring current actions that lead to future successful outcomes allows us to get a handle on the small steps that lead to big success later on.
My favourite example is measuring calorie intake and minutes of activity each day as a means to move the needle on the scale down at the end of the month.
# 3 - I lost my commitment
Research keeps teaching us that we are creatures of habit. All habits take time to form (likely more than the first 31 days of the year). Furthermore, it’s been shown that our enthusiasm and drive tend to rise and fall over a quarterly cycle.
Overcoming these natural challenges requires a commitment to sticking with our new behaviours long enough for them to become habitual; then we still need to revisit and recommit to our goals every 90 days.
# 4 – Maybe I never believed it was possible in the first place
Finally, the most important hurdle people face in achieving their goals just might be their own beliefs. For instance, I remained at a fixed weight of 220 lbs. for about 20 years. I constantly returned to that weight each time I lost or gained a few pounds. I finally changed my belief about how much I should weigh and was able to adopt a new approach.
All the ink spent to teach people about the power of belief could be summed up in Henry Ford’s great quote: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.”
So, if you go forth and seek the knowledge, tools, and inspiration you need to change your approach and avoid these common mistakes; you’ll be closer to keeping your resolution next time (note: there are no rules that preclude us from starting a resolution on February 1st).
In Part II of this blog, I will be sharing and discussing a number of my favourite books on goal setting and beliefs (including the one about my weight).