January 6, 2020
Actually Achieve Your Goals This Year
This is the time for fresh starts and new resolutions. I’ve written before about installing new habits, and there is a lot being written right now about resolutions. I want to talk instead about having the courage to make a fresh start, and how to make it happen.
Right, now, it’s winter. It’s a season of short days, cold temperatures, perhaps snow and ice, and it’s often a time of reflection. The harvest season has passed, the garden has been cut back and appears to lie fallow, though there is a LOT going on underground. We are kind of like that. This may be a time for taking stock and thinking about one thing you might want to do differently in the coming year. Rather than a resolution, let’s consider what it would take to make a single change.
As a coach, I often ask people to make a list of the 10 things that matter most to them — in their work and personal lives — combined into a single list. I also ask them what one step they would need to take to get more of any one thing on that list into their lives.
So, if you want a little mini-coaching session on that topic, here goes. Start by making your own “Top 10 List.” From there, you can ask yourself these three questions.
- Which one of these things would — if I got 20% more of it into my life — make the biggest difference in my level of joy or happiness?
- What is one thing I could do this week to see a 10% gain in the priority I have identified?
- What would help me the most in pursuing that one priority?
Once you have the answer to these questions, the next step is to write down clear goals that will move you in the direction you have prioritized. Dr. Gail Matthews, a professor at Dominican University of California, found in her research (additional info here and here) that you are far more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down than if you don’t, and those who write them down and share them with a friend have a 76% chance of success. The value of creating an accountability plan is clear.
My final coaching point here is that, to make a fresh start, setting goals and shifting behaviors in this way, three things are required.
- Courage to make an actual change in your behavior.
- Clarity about your choices.
- Commitment to follow through.
These are the three Cs: Courage, Clarity and Commitment. They will help you see your fresh start through to completion.
Might this approach help you meet your goals this year? Could it replace the popular but often ineffective New Year’s resolution for you? I’m interested to hear your thoughts and experiences.
Here’s a bit more if you need some resources and inspiration:
- Psychological aspects of goal-setting
- Neuroscience supporting the importance of writing down your goals