Setting personal goals for the new year, and achieving them
New year is around the corner, and almost everyone would have a set of goals that they would like to achieve next year. But how many will actually succeed in making sure they achieve what they set out to do?
Setting goals are much easier than seeing them through. We all have wish lists, the most popular among them probably is losing weight. Everyone wants to lose weight and get fit, but when it comes to getting into a daily workout routine and eating right, people falter. Most of us will be armed with the motivation to push it for a few days, some for weeks, and some even longer. But then the motivation starts to fizzle away. Other priorities start kicking in and then it’s business as usual until the next January arrives.
Here are a few things that will help you to ensure that you chose the right goals, and you achieve what you set out to achieve.
Stay away from spontaneous goal setting without much thought
Most of the time our resolutions or goals are purely based on our emotional state of mind at the time. People choose to quit drinking when they are suffering from a bad hangover. They are just upset about the hangover and make the decision that they will never drink again.
These kinds of resolutions or goals are less likely to succeed as there is not much thinking behind them. It’s purely situational. And the person is likely to go back to drinking again as soon as he is recovered from the hangover. Spontaneous ideas are good, but before you convert that into a resolution, or a goal make sure you put some thinking behind them.
Ask ‘What’ matters to you and ‘Why’
When identifying a goal ask yourself what matters, and why it matters. It brings in a lot of clarity to the thought process.
If you have already shortlisted a number of things you want to achieve or improve upon this year, then ask yourself how do those specific ones come to be on top of your list? Why do they matter so much? Why is it a priority over all the other things you want to do? What will be the impact of those in your life? What changes are they going to bring about?
The more you ask yourself, the more clarity you get. And if you have a compelling argument for ‘what matters’ and ‘why’ then you know you have chosen the right goal to pursue. Remember the quote “If it matters to you, you will find a way. If not you’ll find an excuse”. Hence make sure what you chose as a goal matters to you.
Motivation alone is not enough, have a detailed plan
Having a goal and motivation alone won’t help you to achieve them. A great example of this was the study conducted by the British Journal of Health Psychology. As part of the study, they created three groups and encouraged people in each of the groups to track their exercise patterns.
The first group named ‘Control’ was told what needs to be done. The second group ‘motivation’ was told what needs to be done and was also given the reason or motivation for doing the exercise. And the third group ‘Intention’ was provided with both control and motivation, but were also asked to state their intention on how they planned to do the activity; i.e. they were asked to provide a statement or plan as to when and where they plan to exercise. Two weeks later the results showed that 91% of the Intention group managed to exercise at least once a week, whereas only 35% – 38% of the other groups managed to do the same.
This shows that being motivated alone is as good as having a goal. But having a clear plan that can be followed through is something that sustains the motivation and drives us towards achieving the goal.
Regularly brush up on your plan
The initial plan does not need to be detailed to the last number, it will never be. All you must do is to put on paper ‘what you plan to do and how’ based on what comes to your mind. As you go along, keep reviewing your plan. And keep updating it whenever you come up with better ways of getting to the target. Revisiting your plan every now and then will keep you focused on the goal. By doing so you are training your subconscious mind time and again to focus on what needs to be delivered. Once your subconscious mind is clear on what is it that you want, then all your actions will be directed towards achieving it.
What needs to be done today, needs to be done today
Once you have set the goal and the initial plan, jump right in. Don’t leave it for later, ‘tomorrow never comes’. If it’s health you are after, then take that first step immediately. Start looking for the right program to enroll in or set up the workout space at your home. Read about the most effective way to lose weight or fat, read about the best meal plan to follow. The key is to jump right in. What needs to be done today needs to be done today, never leave it for tomorrow.
Be patient and consistent
If you are setting a stretched goal that you ought to achieve in a certain period of time, then don’t expect it to happen tomorrow. Change is a long and tedious process; it takes time and you have to work with it patiently. The key to not lose motivation is to focus on what can be done today rather than worrying about how far you need to go.
I love to remember the story of the Chinese Bamboo Tree whenever I feel that I am not making any progress with my goals. Like any plant, the growth of the Chinese Bamboo Tree requires nurturing, lots of water, fertile soil, and sunshine. In its first year, you will see nothing above the soil, no leaves no signs of growth, it just feels like the seed has gone bad. In the second year, again, no growth above the soil. The third, the fourth, still nothing. Your patience is tested, and you begin to wonder if all the efforts (caring, watering, etc.) will ever be rewarded. And finally, in the fifth year, the miracle happens! You will experience growth. And when it starts to grow it grows so fast as if it is catching up on lost time. It grows 80 feet in just six weeks!
Another example I like to remember is that of Warren Buffet. He made more than 90% of his wealth after he turned 60. So, the amazing growth that propelled him to where he is today came after more than 40 years of patient investment. Progress will come, the power of compounding gets better with time, so give it time and keep on with it.
Thank you for reading and wish you a great year ahead filled with good health, success, and fortune.