With the New Year upon us, many people create resolutions for the upcoming 12 months. It may be to lose 5 pounds, get more exercise, get out of debt, or become more organized. Unfortunately most resolutions last about 3 to 4 weeks and they slowly fade away. Take a look at the huge crowds in any gym in January and then look at the crowd in April. Most people have given up.
So if creating New Years Resolutions doesn’t work, what does? Is there any way to change bad habits and create the life we want to live? I took a look at the latest research by some of the top goal setting experts and came to some conclusions. Some people are getting amazing results while others give up. What is the difference?
It seems there are some simple yet overlooked items that can cause the best goal setting strategies to fail. I took these items and combined them with the most proven goal setting tips to create STRONG Goals.
STRONG stands for
1. Scheduled: You have to be able to schedule the time to complete your goals. Many people overlook this simple fact. You have to have the time available if you want to complete your task. If you can’t schedule it, you can’t do it.
2. Timed: The best way to accomplish something is to blot out all distractions and do one thing for a set amount of time. Research has found that multitasking does not work. Setting a time period of forty five to ninety minutes to do a single task will result in a much better completion rate than trying to do multiple things at once.
3. Realistic Routine: One of the greatest reasons goals/resolutions fail is that they are unrealistic. When planning a goal it’s best to make it challenging but not impossible. One of the best ways is to confer with others who have accomplished the goal before and create a routine that works with your schedule.
4. Organized from end to start: An old Covey axiom is “Start with the end in mind.” This is so true in goal setting. You need to look at the whole process from beginning to end and then work backwards. Set achievable milestones along the way.
5. Nag: The success rate of goals is much higher if you can work with a coach, trainer, or other person that can hold you accountable for completing your tasks. If you are unable to work with a person, using a written or electronic checklist can help keep you on track. (Note: recent research has found that it is best not to tell everyone about your goal plans. Tell just your coach and possibly a select few friends or relatives.)
6. Go for it: This is the big one. You can have the best laid plans, but if you never start, you’ll never get anywhere. While the other five will help you organize a plan, if you don’t start things on your scheduled day you’ll find yourself constantly putting things off.
While the STRONG goals formula can help you setup a realistic plan, you need to be able to visualize your goal in a positive way. The human mind cannot conceive of things in a direct negative context.
For example, lets say you want to go on a diet and stop eating brownies. To picture in your mind not eating brownies, you’ll first have to visualize brownies on a plate and then visualize putting them out of sight or dumping them in the trash. Unfortunately your mind has to focus on “brownies” in the process.
All the time you are on a “diet”,” your mind will be focusing on things it can’t have. Brownies, ice cream, huge cheeseburgers and other things you are trying to stay away from will fill your mind’s eye. Unfortunately we tend to be drawn to things we focus on, and sooner or later you will give in to your cravings.
Focusing instead on delicious food you can have, such as a low calorie turkey burger, or a low calorie Jello desert, will help you stay on track much better.
Over the next few days we’ll develop the concept more and give you specific ways to apply it to your particular goals. We have a few worksheets which will help you create your own plan and stick to it. We’ll also look at three popular goals and give you the tools to accomplish them in 2011.