5 Goal Setting Techniques to Power through February (And On)
Have you given up on your New Year's Resolution already? Surprisingly (or maybe not), February is usually when people drop out of their "New Year, New Me" mantra. Reality sets in, the gym feels a million miles away at 5:00 am, maybe saving money is overrated. It's easy to talk yourself out of the whole thing.
Our CEO, Judie gets this. At least I think she does. Between running two companies, middle school children and an incredible appetite to connect with people, I'm not sure when Judie sleeps. She's a powerhouse of energy, sometimes I think only someone like that is going to hit all her goals in 2018.
During a recent Lunch and Learn meeting, she made me realize, she's a powerhouse because she's hitting goals. Like an endurance athlete, Judie hits a goal and gets a boost of energy. She's meeting accomplishments, which fuels more and bigger goals (she'll hit those too).
So here are Judie Goslin's 5 goal setting techniques to make them stick through 2018:
1. Know what a goal looks like. Make a good one.
As a resolution, 'Go to the gym' is probably the worst way to get you to go to the gym. It's vague, it's boring, and if you manage to go once, I guess mission accomplished? SMART Goals are the key. That's SMART:
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
- Achievable (agreed, attainable).
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
- Time bound (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
This is what a goal looks like. So you want to get in shape. How about, "I will run two miles on the treadmill three days a week for at least 50 weeks in 2018." That's SMART but add ER and get Evaluated and Reviewed to pack an extra punch. Make good goals and you'll keep them around. Categorize them, make sure you have enough to keep you busy but not pull your hair out.
2. Find a motivator, as long as it's you.
A running buddy is awesome. It's really helpful right up to the point they drop out of their resolution. Then they drag you into that black hole too. The only motivation that sticks comes from inside you. It might be the positive reward you get from meeting your goals (a feeling, extra money, whatever). It might be a negative response (punishment, shame, avoiding pain or fear). If you're super-rational, it could be a cost-benefit analysis (life will be much better if I didn't carry thirty extra pounds around). Whatever the motivation structure is, you are the engine. That being said, ask your running bud to keep you accountable to your motivation structure. Have them give you something good if you go for a run or do something bad if you don't. Make your goal public and make people hold you accountable.
3. Win Small (at first)
I had a friend who paid for a gym membership but never went. It made him upset. "I'm spending all this money but I can never seem to get out of bed." I challenged him that his goal for 2017 should be to drive to the gym once a week. He didn't have to go in, didn't have to run, he just had to swing through the parking lot. Easy goal, he thought. January, he came back beaming. He met his goal all month. Never set foot inside. By March, he was starting to run for 15 minutes "because he was already there." September, he had lost 35 pounds. November, he stopped eating desserts. I just asked if his 2018 was to workout again. He said, "Nah, not really. I don't need a resolution to workout anymore."
4. Contentment vs. Striving
Goals and resolutions can have a really negative response for some people. "I've accepted who I am. There's nothing wrong with me. I'm proud of who I am and I don't need to change." I get this one a lot. I've avoided resolutions because I want to be proud of who I am. I'll challenge that sentiment though. You can love what you have and strive for more. They aren't on opposite ends of a spectrum. They're not even connected. You can love yourself fully and still want to improve aspects of your life.
5. Trim off the branches.
If you want to grow a tall tree, you prune the tree. You cut out the branches that don't head upwards. This one is a hard one. You have to review your life and decisions and ask, 'what is holding me back?'. Maybe it's a bad habit you have. Maybe it's a person that keeps saying you'll never meet that goal. Maybe it's your Netflix account. Whatever it is, you have to cut that piece out. Replace that bad habit with your resolution, cut that person off, shut your Netflix account down. Whatever you have to do to get to that goal. If you're serious about it, it will be worth it. Think of next year's harvest.
Here's a bonus because it's really the key here:
Dig Deep and Hit it.
It's not brain surgery on a rocket scientist, you have to dig deep and hit it. Get out of bed early. Go to the gym. Save your money. It's not going to be fun at first. It's not easy. But if it was, you would've already done it. Be intentional, don't live your life by default. You're not always going to feel like getting out of bed but I promise, every time you do, it will get easier for next time. You won't need this resolution next year.
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Jack Swift is Marketing Administrator at Beyond Impact.
His coworkers think he is super healthy but really,
he eats the candy in the bowl like everyone else.