Once a year, every year, without fail, people of all walks of life go through a ritual. They make New Year's Resolutions. I know I have. What started this whole kick of creating resolutions? Is it the alignment of the stars on New Year's Eve? Is it the desire to have something to strive for? Why is January 1st so significant?
There is certainly something to be said about the ability to start fresh. Thankfully, life gives us many opportunities to begin with a clean slate. However, what is it about January 1st that makes it a better day to create resolutions than any other day? What is a resolution anyway?
Resolutions are typically a negative way of setting goals. Think about it. When you say the word "resolution" doesn't that make you cringe? It does for me. I hate the term.
The term takes on such a negative connotation because rarely does anyone ever follow through or achieve their resolutions.
Why Do New Year's Resolutions Fail?
People start out the year with great intentions but invariably get distracted and never really capitalize on opportunities.
There are six reasons resolutions fail:
- They are only visited at once a year
- They aren't written down or captured
- They are created from a negative intent
- They aren't specific
- They aren't measurable
- They don't replace the negative behavior
Life Starts Fresh Every Day
It's one thing to just set goals once a year. It's another to measure your progress against those goals on a regular basis. Life doesn't begin on January 1st and end on December 31st. Like the earth, life isn't flat. Each day is a new beginning.
The one constant about life is change. When you look at goals once a year, how can you possibly incorporate the changes that life deals? Ideally, we should be visiting and revisiting our goals on a regular, if not daily basis.
Setting goals and measuring our progress towards specific and measurable objectives is the best way to make sure we are getting the most out of our lives and our careers.
Set Goals from a Positive Intent
One reason why so many New Year's Resolutions fail is that they are made from a negative intent. By that, I mean that they are rooted in a "don't want" versus a "do want."
When someone says they want to lose 20 pounds, they are coming from a frame of mind that says "I am fat
and I don't want to be fat anymore." Well, all that gets reinforced with a goal like this is that one is fat.
Instead, it is far more beneficial to focus on coming from a positive intent like, "I enjoy going to the gym. I love sitting in the whirlpool after a grueling workout. I would like to go at least three times a week."
Guess what, if you go to the gym at least three times a week, you will have a good chance of losing weight. Rather than focusing on the negative of diet, you are focusing on the positive of the enjoyment you get out of exercise.
When you are setting goals, do so from a positive reference. Focus on your wants, not on your 'don't wants.' Want a new car? Great! Go to the dealer and take a test drive. Visualize you sitting in and driving that new car.
When setting a goal, ask:
- Is it a stretch?
- Is it achievable?
- Is it measurable?
- Is it based on a positive intent?
- Is it written down?
- Is there a timeframe?
If you can answer yes to all of the above questions, then you have set a goal that you will achieve! If not, modify your goals until you can, otherwise you won't likely accomplish that goal.
Use Excel to Review Your Goals and Objectives
I keep all of my goals and objectives in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Then, I visit that spreadsheet on a regular basis. At the end of each month, I grade myself on my progress. I also make sure the goals are still viable and necessary to achieve based on the existing circumstances.
Goals + Concentration + Determination = Achievement
Amazingly, when I focus on my goals, on a consistent basis, I achieve far greater success, than when I become lax. I find that by keeping my goals on a spreadsheet, I stay more focused.
While, I don't always bat 100%, I achieve enough to be proud of my accomplishments. When you start writing down your goals and objectives and reviewing them on a regular basis, you will achieve success beyond your wildest dreams.
Have You Written Down Your Goals?
If so, great you are ahead of the curve. However, if not, take a few moments to jot down some personal and business goals that are important to you.
When you create your goals be specific and put a date that you want to accomplish that goal by. Make sure the goal is measurable and achievable. Certainly you want to make your goals as difficult as possible, however, if you make them too tough you won't be motivated to succeed.
Bad goal: I want to save some money this year.
Good goal: I want to save at least $5,000 by 8/31.
Bad goal: I want to make quota
Good goal: I want to exceed my quota by 10%
Bad goal: I want to get into shape
Good goal: I want to go to the gym 3 times a week and exercise for a minimum of 45 minutes each visit
Now, open up Excel and take a few moments to articulate your most desired personal and business goals.
Using Excel Columns
On the spreadsheet, type in one column your goals, your objectives, and your targeted dates of completion. Then, create a column for each month.
At the end of each month grade yourself with a 1, 0, or -1 depending on whether you have achieved the goal, stayed neutral (0) or gone backwards (-1). You can also give yourself a .25, a .5 or a .75 if you have partially, but not completely achieved your goal.
In the spreadsheet example here, you can see that I've only accomplished 40% of my goals in January. Ideally my number of goals would total 4, but they only total 1.58.
As you can see, I used a simple formula to add the numbers together. It looks like this in the formula bar: SUM(C3:C7)
To get the percentage, I used this formula to divide the ideal goal amount by the actual goal amount: C8/B8. In the example that worked out to 40%
But hopefully, by the end of the year your total at the bottom of December will equal your number of goals!