Turn your “resolutions” into a goal management system and finally make them reality!
By Michael Caron, President, Northbound Learning
We’re now in the third month of the new year and I wonder how many of us have gotten a start on our new year’s resolutions. I also wonder how many of us have even taken the time to write or verbalize them. Call them resolutions or call them goals, the sad fact is that only 1 in 20 of us have written goals and worse, only 1 in 5 of those people regularly reach them. That’s an 80% failure rate! Looking at this statistic, it becomes easier to understand why even people who make the effort to set goals or resolutions often give up on the idea. Who wants to fail 80% of the time? It feels rotten. And experts tell us that we will go out of our way to avoid pain much more so than to gain pleasure. This avoidance of pain can stop us in our tracks. The good news amidst all this doom and gloom is that it doesn’t have to be this way.
Why do 80% of people who set goals fail to reach them? Is it because they’re lazy or unmotivated? Or is it because they set goals that are crazily unrealistic? The 3 most common reasons for not reaching goals are:
Reason #1 — Not having a strong enough “Why?”
Have you ever set a goal and then months, sometimes years later, question why you ever decided on it in the first place? I know I certainly have. The problem is that unless the importance of a goal is very clear to us, we often run for the hills when we meet a challenge or setback, which we almost always will. Anthony Robbins says that 80% of reaching a goal is in the “why.”
I’m reminded of a childhood friend of mine, Jeff, who, throughout public and high school, openly shared that he was going to be a doctor. At our high school graduation party, his parents had even bought him a doctor’s costume as a joke. Being a very bright and hard- working student, Jeff got accepted into med school at the University of Toronto, the same school I attended. I lost track of Jeff until several years later when I ran into him at a store with his young toddler in tow. I asked him how the doctor world was, to which he replied, “I dropped out and I’m now a Mr. Mom”. My jaw dropped. Not being one to dance around an issue, I probed, “What happened to the whole doctor thing?”. He smiled and confidently said, “I realized it was never what I wanted. It was what my parents wanted.” He continued, “I’m happier than I thought I’d ever be.”
My advice: Make sure that your goals are your goals and that you are clear why you want to accomplish them. Here’s an example of what this might look like:
Overall Goal: Get healthier
Why: I will have more energy which will help in all areas of my life. My stress will go through the roof if I don’t! I will look better and if I look better, I feel better.
Mini-goal 1: Do 30 min of cardio at a 7/10 level min 3x per week
Mini-goal 2: Lose 14 pounds by the end of the 6th month
Goal for the next 30 days: Register for yoga class for the winter session
Action I will take tomorrow to start me on my way: Skip the donut with my morning coffee
Reason #2 — A weak or no action plan
How often have you seen someone who’s experienced a tremendous amount of success say, “Gee, I don’t know how I got to be so successful. It kind of just happened one day!” Hollywood will have you believe it happens much more than in reality. In the real world, great goal achievement is almost always preceded with plans for massive amounts of action.
The best sales plans I’ve seen include sales targets broken down to the number of actual calls needed per day and this time actually scheduled into the sales professional’s agenda for the week. When you think about a goal, it’s a possibility. When you plan it, it becomes a probability. When you schedule the actions to get you there, it can become a reality.
Reason #3 — No review process
I congratulate anyone reading this who has had the courage and foresight to set some resolutions for 2011. You have taken the first important step in achieving what you want. You now need to ensure that you have a system set up to regularly review progress towards your goals and make the adjustments to your tactics if needed. I recommend that you review your annual goals every month and the most important of these, every week. It’s important that you do this in a place where you can “blue sky” with no interruptions.
Once a month, preferably before the next month begins, you will pull out your annual goals and check your progress. The question to ask at this point is, “What can I reasonably do next month to help ensure that I’ll have accomplished this goal by the end of the year?” Then write it down in your month’s goals section of the planner. Prioritize it as an A (needs to get done this month or else something “evil” will happen) or a B (important but not as urgent to get done this month).
Each week, and I suggest on Sunday, review your monthly goals and ask the same question above but using a week instead of a month. Do the same thing with your A’s and B’s. There are many good goal setting apps for the iPhone and iPad, one of the best being “Goal Master”. Check them out.
This whole review system will take you about 1-2 hours/month depending on how detailed you get. This is about the same amount of time as watching a reality TV show. Simply by time-shifting from American Idol to goal management, you can create your own dream life instead of just watching someone else create theirs!
Setting and managing goals requires skills, knowledge and action. You and your team can learn how top performers do it by participating in Northbound’s “Bulls Eye! Reaching Your Goals” workshop. For more information or to arrange a complimentary workshop for your team, contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To download a free copy of Northbound’s Goal Planner, click here.