‘This year I’m going to exercise more!’ January comes around and you start off with a bang. You join a gym, hire a personal trainer, and take up walking after dinner. But slowly your motivation starts to wane and by March you’re back to your old sedentary habits, and feel defeated. Why is it that so many of us fail to make purposeful positive change AND maintain it long term?
Some might say that you ‘just didn’t try hard enough.’ While that may be partly true, it doesn’t explain the whole story.
So why is change so hard? The two main reasons are:
- Most people don’t understand the change process. Making purposeful positive change is complex.
- People don’t want to make change, but feel pressure to do so.
By understanding the psychology of change, planning appropriately, and then committing to action you will be better equipped to reach your goals and maintain the resolutions you made at the start of the year.
In Part 1 of this series, I will guide you through how to develop resolutions and SMART goals which are personally meaningful. Follow these simple steps and you will be on your way to a great new you.
Step 1. Re-assess your goals and achievements for the current year.
Look back to your list of goals for 2011 and reflect on what you have accomplished. Take notes on what methods and actions helped you achieve those goals. Also record your short comings. Learning from the past helps us to mould a better future.
Step 2. Start with the end in mind
Do all your new year’s resolutions seem to follow the same pattern year after year? Lose weight? Eat more vegetables? The same old stuff that didn’t work out so well for you this year? Well then maybe it’s time to try a different approach.
Start with the end in mind. Write your own eulogy. If you were to die today what would people say about your life? Be brutally honest with yourself. This task is very difficult but extremely powerful. It points out your personal strengths, and weaknesses, and has a strong emotional impact which can promote beneficial change. Use it as a foundation to brainstorm your goals for the upcoming year and begin positive purposeful change in your life.
Click here for instructions on how to write your eulogy
Step 3: Aspirations vs Resolutions
‘The more intensely we feel about an idea or a goal, the more assuredly the idea, buried deep in our subconscious, will direct us along the path to its fulfillment.’ – Earl Nightingale
By writing your own eulogy you have planted the seed about areas in your life you’d like to change. At the moment these are just aspirations, which by definition, is an ambition. Resolving to change, or making resolutions, means you have made the decision to commit to change. So take a moment now and ask yourself to commit to the decision to change. Remember this is YOUR life and the control is in your hands.
Step 4: Be SMART and plan.
‘A goal without a plan is just a wish’ –Larry Elder
You have now asserted that you are committed to making positive purposeful change, but how will you get there? By creating SMART goals:
S – Specific
- What is my goal?
- Why do I want to achieve this?
- How will I achieve this?
- Be as detailed as you can when writing out this section.
M – Measurable
- How will I measure my success?
- How often will I re-assess if I am travelling towards my goal?
A – Attainable
- Your goal should be a stretch, but also be realistic.
- If it is a resolution is should be something that can be maintained long term.
R – Relevant
- Ask yourself ‘Does this goal seem worthwhile?’
- A relevant goal is something that you are willing and able to work towards with the resources you have. It is supposed to be challenging but doable.
T – Timely
- Set a specific target date.
- Give yourself enough time to complete the task without letting it become drawn out. Commitment to a deadline will help you remain focused on the task at hand.
Use the printable worksheet below to help write out your SMART goals. Then post them in a place that you will see them everyday; your bedroom mirror, or desk at your office. Constantly remind yourself of your commitment to change.
Step 5: Get off your butt and get into action!
‘Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.’ – Stephen A. Brennan
You have mapped out how you will achieve your goals, now you need to put the plan into action! Break your goal down into small achievable steps, and commit to action by making time to achieve them. Believe in your abilities, and the hard work and dedication will pay off.
In Part 2 of this series I’ll examine myths about change, goals, and resolutions. Plus I’ll have some science-based tips to help you overcome obstacles you may encounter on your journey.
- What have you accomplished this year?
- What is your favourite memory of 2011?
Leave your comments below!