According to research, only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year's resolutions. Whether you set goals with the change of the year or not, one thing is certain: Habit change and formation is difficult. Here are 3 tips to help you set goals and successfully reach them.
1. Small changes make big impact.
PITFALL: Creating a long list of resolutions.
The first pitfall to avoid creating a list of resolutions/goals that are long and as big a mountain. Our lofty list becomes too burdensome to follow through.
Narrow your list and start with small, actionable changes. This is the key to creating consistency that in turn makes a change into a habit.
IN ACTION: A recent survey shows that the top 4 resolutions are health-related: Eating better, exercising more, self-care and cutting down on certain foods.
Here is an example of how I narrow down my resolutions.
Resolution 1. Eat Better: Have a bigger portion of veggie side for one meal a day.
Resolution 2. Move more: Turn my work breaks into a stretch/meditation/tech-free break.
2. If you slip, don't sweat.
PITFALL: OUR DISAPPOINTMENT AND MISSED EXPECTATIONS
Often we tie our goals to all or nothing terms; it's either your crushing it or failing at it. When we set up or goals in black and white terms like this, it is easy to give up when you miss or skip it. This is probably one of the biggest reasons people abandon their resolutions after a week or so.
First recognizing that you WILL slip and knowing that this is part of the process, may keep you from quickly abandoning your goals.
Creating change requires willpower and willpower requires an enormous amount of energy... this means that WILLPOWER DEPLETES and NEEDS to be replenished.
If you are trying to change a hardwired, long-term habit know that you are/ will be using lots of willpower to drive that change. Identify your top priorities and be OK with having to rework it. Rework your plan when you recognize areas that you are not able to give as much energy to change. Learn what you need to rest and replenish in order to be better prepared to take action. Focus on progress vs. perfection. This one is a deeper, inner work that could transform a lot of things in your life.
3. USE YOUR IMAGINATION.
PITFALL: ENVIRONMENT AND MENTAL ROADBLOCKS
One of the biggest sources of temptation is our environment. The more you are forced to confront temptations, the more likely you are to give in: Donuts in break room, cellphone on your desk, Facebook open in a tab, wedding season, etc.
This is a tip from one of the best Sports Performance Psychologists in the world and it doesn't take much. World class athletes, CEOs, and the most successful performers have a constant "winning story" running in their heads throughout the day.
Imagine your day and tell the story of how you are crushing your goals.
This allows you to:
1. Identify roadblocks, triggers and temptations.
2. To think about how you will consciously respond and act to things that don't align with your goals
3. Empower you to envision your success and progress.
This is a practice I do everyday. I think about the things I have lined up for the day, the people I will see, and anticipate the things that may come up. I imagine how I want to outcome of my day to be, the impact I want to make and align my actions accordingly.
For example, if I'm avoiding alcohol and I had made plans to meet up at Happy Hour with some friends, then I will mentally prepare to be tempted and plan on what I will have instead.
Well, there you have it. One other important key to behavior change is having accountability buddy or group so --- Let me know what you do, what's easy, what's difficult and/or questions you may have.