Every year, millions of Americans resolve to make changes in their lives starting in the New Year, yet according to Psychology Today, “most people fail in adhering to their stated New Year’s resolutions.” In fact, by January 7th, one fourth of the people who set goals for 2013 will have failed to maintain their actions. By February 40% will fail and 60% won’t be successful at maintaining their goals through June.
Why is it that so many people aren’t successful in their resolutions?
It’s likely that these resolutions were not set up for success to begin with. Their ideas may have gotten stuck in the “wish” stage.
You’ve heard the quote by French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Wishes are plentiful: wishing you could fit into your high school jeans, wishing you had extra energy after work, wishing you had more money in the bank. A wish usually motivates action, but isn’t responsible for sustaining action. A goal is accompanied by a logical and realistic commitment to action, which turns a wish into a reality.
What can you do to ensure success?
One way of creating this plan is to write SMART goals. This is a process for creating Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic goals with a Timeline for success. Here are the 5 steps to write SMART goals that will turn your Wish into a Reality:
- Specific – When you create your specific goal, ask yourself “What do I really mean?” and fine tune the specifications at least 3 times before chiseling it in stone. If you are VERY specific about what you’re after, you’ll recognize the opportunities in your life to lead you toward the goal. For example, instead of writing “be able to do pull-ups,” specify, “complete un-assisted pull ups using full range-of-motion.”
- Measurable – it must be clear how your success will be measured. Ask yourself: How much, how many, how often? Usually numbers help to measure success. Maybe you want to do 15 pull-ups or maybe you want to do pull ups for 60-seconds. Find a method of measurement that you can work toward.
- Actions – Identify the actions you’ll need to take to accomplish your goal. For example, maybe you’ll have to practice 6 pull-ups every day for 3 weeks and then increase the number of pull-ups you do every day until you reach your goal. Or, if your goal is to write a book, there will be several steps in this section: write, edit, re-write, illustrate, publish, market, sell, etc.
- Realistic – this is the hard one that frequently can bring you back to step 1. You have to ask yourself if you actually have the means and ability to realistically achieve this goal. If you’re a 45-year old women who is 5’2” and your goal is to be a runway model for the 2013 NYC Fashion Week, it may be somewhat unrealistic. It’s cool to have this as a goal, but in order to make it realistic, you may need to adjust the timeframe, specifics or measurements of success.
- Timeline – give yourself a realistic timeline by which to accomplish your goal. If it’s a daily initiative, create a time of the day you’ll check-in with yourself. If it’s a long-term goal such as writing a book or saving money, give a deadline for yourself. Research shows that people achieve more when given shorter deadlines, so be good to yourself but not overly generous with your timeframe. I usually create a deadline for each action item en route toward my goal, which holds me accountable for on-going efforts.