The New Year is an opportunity to hit the reset button and achieve something that perhaps you have only ever dreamed about. The problem is that studies show New Years resolutions just don’t work. At least 95% of those who lose weight on a diet regain it, and a significant percentage gain back more than they originally lost. The value of achieving a big goal brings a sense of confidence, accomplishment and connectedness. Here are the 10 biggest mistakes people make when setting their New Years goals and how to avoid them to make 2014 your best year ever.
Mistake #1 – They don’t write down their goals
A researcher at the Dominican University of California conducted a study that found 42% of participants were more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down. Even if you don’t have action steps or accountability yet, there is something powerful about writing down your goals that dramatically increases your ability to reach them.
Mistake #2 – They create too many goals
Setting to many goals violates the principal of focus. There’s an ancient proverb that elucidates this well “the man who chases two rabbits catches neither”. A divided focus also divides your resources. Chasing to many things will sabotage your efforts. Focus on the outcome, not the process or the practice to help keep you from getting overwhelmed and losing sight of the end goal.
Here’s a rule of thumb to use when setting your New Years goals: 5 – 7 goals are ideal, but no more than 10 goals.
Mistake #3 – People tend to only focus on one area of their life
Most set goals around their careers or their physical health, but there are many aspects that need to be considered. There are 9 areas in our lives that we can set goals: vocational, marital, spiritual, intellectual, social, financial, physical, parental, and hobbies/interests. Setting balanced goals in multiple facets of our lives can overcome this mistake.
Mistake # 4 – People don’t make their goals specific enough
Often they set goals that are vague or ambiguous. We need to write goals that are very specific.
Here’s an example of a non-specific goal.
Goal – To eat healthier.
How will you know at the end of the year if you have accomplished this?
To make the goal more specific, try this.
Goal – Eat 9 servings of organic vegetables each day.
This goal is very specific and we can now focus our intentions to eating healthier on a daily basis.
Mistake # 5 – They don’t make goals measureable
What gets measured typically improves. Setting goals that are measurable provides immediate feedback so you can track your progress. Here’s an example.
Goal – Lose weight.
This goal is vague. How much weight? How can we tell when we have met our goal? Let’s look at a way to re-phrase this goal to make it measureable.
Goal – Lose 35 pounds.
Now this goal is measureable and we can track our progress so we will know when we have achieved it.
Mistake # 6 – They don’t assign a due date or deadline
The difference between a goal and a dream is a due date.
There are several benefits to setting deadlines.
- Create a sense of urgency and help keep us from procrastinating
- They provide balance to your workload. Spread out your goals through the year to keep your life sane.
- They help to prioritize your daily tasks. Focus on what mattes now.
Here’s an example.
Goal – Lose 35 lbs.
A better way to write this goal is to set a deadline or due date. Here’s the same goal, just re-worked to create that sense of urgency, balance, and priority.
Goal – Lose 35 lbs by July 31st.
Mistake #7 – They don’t keep their goals visible
Most times we create a goal, then file it away in our desk or office never look at it again. Goals must be kept visible and we need to look at them everyday. Try creating a vision board out of magazine cut outs or pictures to remind and compel you to keep working towards your goals. Whatever it is, keep it visible somewhere where you can stay focused on it.
Mistake # 8 – They don’t stretch outside their comfort zone
We often set our goals inside our comfort zone. Goals that are compelling and matter the most have to take you into your discomfort zone.
There are three negative emotions that indicate you are on the right path.
When we experience these, we often have an instinct to dial it back.
- Fear – For the most part, it keeps use from achieving the things we want and being courageous. The ability to take action in spite of your fear is bravery. . Fear holds us back and keeps us small. Feeling fearful is normal, and usually indicates that your goal is where it needs to be.
- Uncertainty – Not being able to see the whole path or how you will accomplish it requires growth. You need to trust that the resources will show up when you need them too.
- Doubt – We are often unsure that we have the resources we need to go the distance. Trust that you will grow and become what you need to be to achieve the goals that are most meaningful to you.
- Overwhelm – This is a common natural emotion that we feel whenever we are setting out to achieve something significant. It acts as a compass telling us we are on the right track. If we knew who to do it and we had it all figured out, we wouldn’t have to grow and we would stay in our comfort zone.
Become self aware of these emotions and let them guide you. If your feeling them, your likely on the right track.
Mistake # 9 – They don’t make their goals personally compelling
Goals must be compelling or else you most likely wont accomplish them. When we set goals that are transformative, we can focus on what is most important and meaningful to us and keep on track.
- Spiritually meaningful and congruent with your highest and most important values.
- Intellectually stimulating.
- Emotionally energizing.
Mistake # 10 – They don’t identify the next action
Write down the goal and the action steps that will take you there. Start with the easiest steps first to get momentum so you will be more likely to stick with it and follow through. Often, your path will only become clear one step at a time. Focus on taking the next most important step and the path to the end goal will become more clear with time.
What would it feel like?
Can you imagine what it will feel like when you accomplish your goals? Could you be in the best possible shape of your life? Absolutely, if you set your goals.
How will I find the time?
One of the biggest challenges is undoubtedly finding the time in the midst of your busy life. The good new is, you don’t have to worry about finding the time. What you really need is to get your intention set. Once you have the intention and a series of action steps, you’ll figure out the time part of the equation. You’ll find the time by making time and scheduling the important things and you will figure it out in the context of your priorities. A year will give you more time than you think. Here’s to your best year ever!