Soooo, those New Year’s resolutions… How are you getting on? Did you set any? You may be thinking, “Why is Sam writing about New Year’s resolutions, It’s the middle of the year?!”. Well, I thought this would be a poignant time to bring it up and talk about how to make your resolutions stick. As time always does, it is flying by and we are pretty much 180 days into 2018. That’s a whole 6 months. If you are on track with yours, good on ya and keep it up! If not, chances are you have fallen foul to one of the following…
Common Reasons Why Resolutions Don’t Stick
- You forget about them (or at least until you saw my hook line)
- You lose motivation
- You don’t see results
- You have a situational change
- You have a personal change
- And a sh*t load of other reasons on google (Look at the months these articles are mostly written in. You see I am a pioneer by rocking out this topic in June/July).
How To Make Your Resolutions Stick: The Alternative ApproachI mentioned this briefly in my article on self-credit, but consider using a shorter time span/frame and bring the finish line closer. I guess you could look at it as decreasing the distance to the mid-term or medium term goals. Here’s why I think this approach works:
- It makes it feel more achievable. And also easier as it’s less of a mission
- It helps us keep focus. Because we all know that focus is hard at the best of times and doing it over a year? You’re having a laugh.
- We (and a whole load of other variables) change over 365 days so our goals and motivations may also change.
Tips for Shorter Goal Setting & How to Make Your Resolutions StickAs I’m that kinda guy, here are some further tips to help you when setting your “shorter” goals.
Set The Time PeriodCan be 90 days / a financial quarter or even 30 days/month. Experiment and see what works for you.
OKR For The PeriodI have adopted the Google OKR approach – Objectives and Key Results. I won’t go into the details here but the idea is to set out what the objective for the period is, then work out the metrics that require tracking that count toward the objective.
Weekly ReviewThis is also part of the OKR approach but can still be used without it. The review is a vital part of keeping the focus on the target so add the review to your calendar so you don’t forget. You can review your metrics or key results (if you use the OKR approach) or you can simply ask yourself 3 questions:
- Am I on schedule?
- Did I lose focus?
- What could I improve?
Keep The Focus Simple / KISSDon’t try and take on more than 3 things max at a time. Ideally, stick to one. Which is the most important one you’d like to get sorted? What is the one thing/process goal that will get you toward your shorter goal? Focus on that and remove any other distractions (some tips on this can be found in my article on Deep Work).
S.M.A.R.T.E.R. GoalsThe classic guideline. Keep the goal or objective Specific, Measurable, Realistic, Time based (This is the section this article is focused on), Exciting and Relevant.
Keep The Goals VisibleThe more visible the goal, the more you will be reminded of it and keep focus over the period. Use post-it notes or cue cards in prominent places such as a mirror or desk. Set calendar reminders or even use mobile apps for habit building to keep the goal visible.
MotivationThe E of SMARTER (see above). I have realised how important this is when it comes to goal setting and whether people actually achieve it. One of the common things I see with some clients and people I meet is they don’t know why they can’t achieve what they are after. Maybe it’s as simple as you didn’t really want it? You need to be excited and inspired by your goals.
Specificity Of Time, Not Just DayThe S of SMARTER. This is more to do with the tasks within the shorter goals but it is worth mentioning here as this is a big one that I have realized lately. Set the actual time of day as part of the deadline, not just the day. By saying I will finish it on Wednesday is just too vague as Wednesday is a whopping 24 hours so that’s a deep/wide finishing line. Be specific. I did some work with Nigel Azzopardi and he used to pin me down to specific times for my goals and initially I found it a bit over the top but then once I started working toward those tasks I had more clarity on when they needed to get done by. This also then gave me potentially more hours to crack on to another task.
Be Flexible With The Start PointIt doesn’t have to be at the start of the month or the financial quarter. You can have your start point for the 30-90 days whenever you want. Tie it in around holidays or significant events. But don’t wait to get started. It’s all about taking action. You can have all the intentions in the world but if you aren’t actually going to do anything about it, the intentions are futile.
Period ReviewEvaluate how you did at the end of the period. Remember to reframe any failure as free data. What might you do differently next time? Review your big vision, is this still what you are after or have things changed? Have you changed? Maybe even as a result of the previous shorter goal period? Review the big vision every end of the period to consider: Is this still where I want to head? What’s next?
RepeatSet another goal for the next period. By repeating these shorter time frames, you will find you build up the habit of staying focused and hopefully stay motivated along the way by experiencing regular successes. So.. What resolutions and goals would you like to set for the next 90 days? What measures might you put in place to give yourself the best chance of making your resolutions stick? If you’d like some support with making your resolutions stick or even working out what your resolutions might be then book a no obligation sample session to get you back on track.
I help people get to where they want to be quicker than they would have done on their own.