After indulging in all the Christmas festivities, you might be thinking about turning over a new leaf and setting some New Year’s Resolutions to make some positive changes in your life.
However, sticking to your resolve is not always easy and research shows that around 92% of New Year’s resolutions will fail by 15 January and that figure increases to 96% by 15 February. Not only that, many people make the same resolutions ten times without success!
While it may be difficult to plan ahead with the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic, January is still a good time to sit down and decide what you’d like to achieve or change for the year and to set some goals, whether they’re for work or personal ambitions.
But with such a high failure rate, what’s the point if we’re setting ourselves up to fail and putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves?
Goal setting can be overwhelming, especially if you set too many goals or lack confidence in being able to achieve them, especially if you haven’t managed to achieve them in the past.
However, if you don’t have plans for the year, it’s like getting into a car without a destination, who will you know when you get there? Setting a goal is just like turning on your Sat Nav system, giving you a clearly defined direction which allows you to focus on the smaller steps which will ultimately achieve success. Having goals also helps with your motivation, giving you increased energy to succeed and can even make you happier.
If you struggle with achieving your resolutions or goals, here are 6 science-backed strategies to ensure this is the year that you achieve them:
1. Be clear about what you want
Clarity fuels persistence so be crystal clear about what you want. Be very specific including what it is that you want to achieve, by when, how you are going to achieve it and if it is realistic. Working on a goal takes time and energy so knowing why you want it is an important factor Why do you really want this goal?
2. Write your goals down daily
This one seem simple, but not many people do it. Dr Gail Matthews, who is a Professor of Psychology at the Dominican University of California, discovered that people are 42% more likely to achieve their goals if they write them down every day. In fact, the more you write them down the better.
Goals that are just stored in the mind are more likely to be jumbled up with the other 60-70,000 thoughts per day that the average human being experiences. By writing down the goal it sets off your Reticular Activating System (RAS) which focuses your mind on the goal and increases motivation and staying power.
3. Schedule actions in your diary
Deciding in advance where and when you’re going to take specific actions to reach your goal can double or triple your chances for success.
So schedule time in your calendar to take action towards your goals and also include where and with who. So for example, let’s say it’s exercise. Schedule the time you’re actually going to work out, plus put in the place ie the gym, park or at home and who you plan to exercise with.
4. Have a contingency plan
Make a contingency plan to allow for any setbacks like pandemic restrictions or other things that out of your control. This means that you won’t give up or beat yourself up if things get delayed or change course. Thinking ahead and planning for problems will increase your chance of success.
There’s no rush to achieve new goals quickly. Obviously, timelines are required to achieve targets, but it’s important to be flexible and take into account that things might be slow-moving for a while, especially at the moment. Being consistent over time and developing new habits is the key to achieving your goals.
Also, if you lose motivation with the goal and find that you no longer want to work on it, either modify the goal or create a new one for yourself.
5. Visualise yourself working on the goal
In the past, experts have advised us to visualise ourselves having already achieved the goal ahead of time, but new research shows that if you visualise yourself working on and progressing towards the goal, you have an increased chance of achieving it. So imagine yourself working on the actions you need to take using your senses ie what can you see, hear, who are you with, how do you feel and what are you wearing?
6. Update a friend or coach
The Society of Training and Development found that you have a 65% chance of completing a goal if you commit to updating someone. On top of that, If you have a specific accountability appointment with another person, say once a month or every two months, this can actually increase your chances of success by up to 95%.
Will you be setting some goals this year? These don’t need to be huge; they can be small, achievable goals to move your life forward and increase your energy and zest for life.
I’m running two goal setting workshops to help you to work out what you’d like for the year and to create the right mindset to succeed on 22 January (in person in Newcastle) or on 29 January (on Zoom).