Setting and keeping goals are tough. Everyone has best intentions of keeping their goals in the New year. I read a great article at Entrepreneur.com on how to Keep Your Resolutions. Like the majority of people out there, we'd bet good money one of the first things you did last year was make a new a resolution or two, be it a personal goal, like getting fit, or one that will improve your business, like updating marketing plan.
I admit it I did the same thing. I really don't party too hard on New Year's hoping for a better new year. I try to work on accomplishing my goals each day, week and year. However, I did set a few resolutions. Two of them are exercise everyday and losing weight, 20 pounds.
But making a resolution's one thing--keeping it's another. That's why we asked M.J. Ryan, author of This Year I Will…How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution or Bring a Dream into Being, to share her top seven resolution pitfalls you'll want to avoid this time around:
- Being vague about what you want from your resolution. A best practice on setting goals and objectives at work is to set SMART goals. Which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Tangible you need to apply the same to personal goals. Exercise more won't do it, you need to say how much and how often, like 30 minutes a day 6 days a week.
- Not making a serious commitment to follow through. Most goal setting experts recommend that you should post the goals in multiple spots around your house, office, even in your car. For example, if you want to weigh a certain weight, post the number on the bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator, and even in your car. When you pull into McDonald's one evening and you see the goal number in your car you might remember to order the salad, only put on half the dressing and skip the fries and milkshake.
- Making too many excuses and procrastinating. Just getting started is a big problem for most people. Never building a momentum on a goal is a big issue for most. Steve Pavlina has a great article on turning a habit into a life time positive habit through a 30 day trial. His concept is if you can keep working toward a goal or habit for 30 days, if you actually can do this for 30 days it will become a new positive habit.
- Trying to turn your resolution into reality with no help or support. So you want to lose weight? Have you put your money where your mouth is, instead of the food like most of us do? Why not join Weight Watchers? They have been helping people learn how to lose weight for years. This will help you learn and determine the best way to accomplish the specific goal and help you gain some positive momentum.
- Not setting up a tracking and reminder system. Use a piece of paper, a note note book and XL spread sheet, whatever, but you have to keep track of what you are doing and not doing. A real easy online tool for keeping track of your goals is Joe Goals. Check it out it is pretty cool. I use a simple exercise journal, it was like $11 but you could just as well use a $1.50 note book.
- Not having a good backup plan. In life and in business contingency planning is important. What are you going to do if you don't hit your goals. What's the next best alternative? Do you have one.
- Expecting nothing but perfection A lot of people tend to expect perfection. If they miss one day of exercise or eat a piece of cake they feel like they blew it and give up on the whole thing. Keep track of what you are doing and make sure you are experiencing continuous improvement.
Once you make sure you're avoiding the hazards listed above, Ryan suggests following these 10 simple steps to actually keeping your resolution and making it become a reality in 2007:
- Make it nonnegotiable. Again it is about making a commitment. Are you committed to the goal and are you going to do what it takes.
- Promise yourself that you're absolutely going to follow through with it, no matter what. Sort of the same idea as nonnegotiable. Make it happen and follow through. If you skipped a work out one day, double up the next day and reward yourself for catching up.
- Just as you would honor your commitment to a friend or relative, honor the one you make to yourself. It is pretty easy to drop commitments to yourself. When you yell at yourself it doesn't hurt as much. But really, keeping the commitment is key.
- Make it actionable. In order to succeed, you must know what actions you're going to take to accomplish your goals. Read any Anthony Robbins book and you will find that is what he is all about. The difference between really successful people and us is ACTION. They took the action and we didn't.
- Come up with solutions for your usual excuses. Think back to why this resolution may not have worked in the past, and make sure you don't let yourself use the same excuses this time around. Why didn't it happen last year. Examine why you failed previously and brainstorm ways to prevent those excuses from letting you fail next year.
- Schedule it in. Make a specific, time-bound appointment to do the action necessary to accomplish your goal, and you’ll be much more likely to do it. I use Outlook calendar a lot and I like to schedule times to work on things. I also set the little reminders as well. Make sure you schedule those workouts, time to work on the business case, time to make those cold calls. Buy the book Getting Things Done to help you establish a pattern for getting things done. Check out 43folders.com for tips on getting things done.
- Do it daily. Incorporate your resolution into your daily life--the quicker you do that, the faster it will become so routine that you won't even have to think about it. Just like Steve Pavlina says do it every day, he recommends doing it for 30 days to really make it a habit.
- Monitor your behavior in writing. When you put it in writing, research shows you're more likely to put your full attention toward your goal and follow through with it. Go out and get that journal, create that spreadsheet. Write it down and track it. That is the only way to check if you are making progress.
- Focus on the horizon. Instead of focusing on how much more work you have to do, look at how far you've come. Scientists dub this the horizon effect--it creates encouragement and builds determination. Take credit for the work that you have already done. Pump yourself up and keep taking credit for the work that you have already done. Don't overwhelm yourself with the mountain of work that is in front of you.
- Find someone who's doing what you want and imitate them. Find a role model who's already practicing the habit you want to acquire, and learn by imitation. Watch them, and don't be afraid to ask questions. This is like the mastermind principle. If you can find people that are already having success in an area this will help you by learning from them and building on what they have already learned.
- Teach it to someone else. Become a mentor. This is a great way to cement a new habit--whatever you suggest to someone else, you should practice yourself. Once you have learned how to do something you can build on your success by teaching others what you have already learned. It will also help you be even more successful because you will want to become more knowledgeable about the topics that you are teaching and mentoring others on.
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