New year, new you?

Are you one of the 41% of people who made a New Year’s resolution? Those who set goals are 10 times more likely to achieve than those who don’t. Hate to be the person to break it to you, but new years resolutions have a higher failure rate than normal goals. Why? People just don’t do it right. So what can you do to be on the winning side?

Of those who make new year’s resolutions, 23% quit in the first week, and only 9% are successful at the end of 1 year. “Quitters Friday” is the most common day to give up, which is the second Friday of January, and 64% have quit by the end of the month. The biggest problem is the timing of New Year’s resolutions – people simply aren’t ready to commit. Basically, to succeed you need to be honest with yourself – why change now?

The most common resolutions are health related: exercise, food, weight or mental health. This is followed by Money matters such as reducing debt or increasing income/savings. And the third largest category is happiness related (time with family, learn new things, try new experiences). Those who make the resolutions make on average 1.8, and it is more common for 18-34 year old’s (59% make commitments) than older age groups.

Despite the low statistics, whether in business or personal life there are still many great benefits to good goal setting, providing it’s done right.

So what’s the key to success?

  • Most people over-estimate what they can achieve in a short time frame, and under-estimate what they can achieve over a longer period. Reflect on that “Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour”.
  • We want instant rewards. By all means, you should start now rather than delay, but don’t expect utopia straight away – set rewarding milestones.
  • The final key is that it needs to be your Picture where you want to end up. Whether a big or small goal, what does it look and importantly feel like for you when you achieve that goal.

To help with this, goal setting works best by adopting SMART goals:

Specific – “to exercise” won’t be as successful as a specific task like “go to the gym twice a week”. The most lasting success comes from where you build a habit.

Measurable – “to lose weight” won’t work. Set measurable milestones so you can track progress. 2kg in first week, then 4 kg in a month etc for an ultimate target weight of X. Write it down and put it somewhere you’ll see it regularly, so you get reminded and hold yourself to account, and see that you are actually getting results whether they are short or ahead of your target.

Achievable – going cold turkey on smoking or drinking works for some. But in most cases you won’t get the full impact of your goal for some time. For example, short of winning lotto, you’re unlikely to own a house in a month, so set a longer time frame or more realistic end goal (start with a smaller investment in maybe shares, then step up to a deposit to get into a unit in a few years, then use the capital growth of that to eventually but a house).

Realistic/Relevant – deciding to save half your income might be noble but achieving 10% is a more manageable level considering the goal shouldn’t become a weight to carry around. Further, the goal must be relevant to you – no point in setting a goal of running a marathon if you don’t like running and really see yourself enjoying a stroll with the dog.

Time framed – by when will you achieve your milestones? Reward yourself for each milestone – it’s great for increasing motivation!

Studies show that the most successful achievers have:

– strong will power to want to do what they are doing;

– use stimulus control and avoidance strategies – having things around you that remind you of your task (maybe a picture of the yacht you’ll go sailing on with your saved money) whilst reducing factors likely to make you fail (such as staying away from smoking environments if you want to quit smoking)

– positive thinking, reminders and other motivators – look at the positive progress; program in time to work on your goal; and giving yourself rewards along the way increase staying power and success. For some people, sharing a goal with other likeminded people can help keep them accountable.

There is no better time than the present to jump in and make a change. After all, winners are only losers that kept trying, so what do you have to lose?


Words from the wise

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” – Theodore Roosevelt

“People with goals succeed because they know where they are going” – Earl Nightingale

“If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have, you’ll never have enough” – Oprah Winfrey

As always, onwards and upwards!

Fred Carlsson

General Manager

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