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New Year's Resolutions - Are you smart enough to reach your goals?

Whatever our new year’s resolutions, we are proud when we realize them and our self-esteem gets a real boost.

Unfortunately, there are many goals which do not get further than the idea and don't last longer than March - at the latest - when we will have given up on investing time and effort into our new year's resolutions. There are numerous reasons for our plans’ failing, ranging from not setting the right goals to missing to take the first step. Setting SMART goals is just the beginning. Make your goals Specific (“Running the half-Marathon on 28th May&rdquo, Measurable (21.5 km to run), Attainable (you can run a certain time/distance without major health problems), Realistic (“I’ve got time and am healthy enough to do it&rdquo, Timely (“Running the half-Marathon on 28th May 2018 and I’ve got 5 months to achieve this&rdquo.

There are many other criteria on which to base your goals, SMART is just one example. You can make your goals PURE and CLEAR, taking into consideration that they are positively stated and challenging or environmentally sound. (Whitmore, 2009) 

As a coach, I often ask my coachees about their level of commitment to reach a goal they have set themselves. On a scale of 1 - 10 how much do you want to achieve this? If your answer isn’t at least an 8 it is not the right goal. It is important to ask yourself what is the benefit for yourself reaching your goal. And are you trying to achieve it for your own sake? Or are you trying to please someone else? Your motivation to work for the realisation of your goal depends significantly on how much you want to have the perfect outcome.

There is also a considerable difference between a vague plan (“keep the house tidy&rdquo and a definite goal (“clean the floors on Saturday after breakfast and before lunch&rdquo.

A goal without a plan is just a dream.

Once you have formulated your goal, think about what steps are necessary to reach it. Be as precise as possible. If you want to run the 21.5 km in May 2018, how do you start your training today? How often are you going to run this week, when and for how long/how far? What about food/nutrition: what are you going to eat/drink and when, maybe you need to change some eating/drinking habits? Who else is/needs to be involved?

It is equally important to specify how you know that you make progress. What do you want to have achieved in 4 weeks/8 weeks/12 weeks etc. (time/distance, weight, heart rate etc.)? Write it down, make a plan and check how far you have come or when there are setbacks. It is perfectly normal if your plan does not work out in all stages. Be flexible and make yourself aware of the reasons why you have not reached the next step. Then take action and adjust your plan.

And celebrate achievements! Think about how you can reward yourself when you have reached a specific sub-goal. Share it with friends and family, anyone who supports you.

A crucial element is to link your steps with a concrete timing. The more specific your timing, the better. Research has shown that we are much more likely to put a plan into practice when we link it to a specific timing. (Gollwitzer et al., 2015) If you want to stay in touch with your clients more regularly, plan when you phone/e-mail them, e.g. Monday mornings between 9.30 and 11.00 h. Do you want to spend more time with your family? - Make nothing else more important from 18.00 h. You have had too much for breakfast? - Keep it at an apple for dinner and no more food from 19.00 h. The more you stick to these timings the more they become a habit - and you will reach your goals easier and faster!

Give your new year's resolutions a quick check:

  • Have you set positively exciting, achievable and inspirational goals with a definite time frame?
  • Do you have a specific plan to follow?
  • What is the next step you are going to take, when?
  • How will you know that you make progress towards your goals?
  • How will you know that you have achieved the future perfect? What does it look (feel/sound/taste) like?

Enjoy your successes and learn from setbacks!

I wish you a happy & prosperous 2018!



References and Literature:

Alder, H. and Heather, B., NLP in 21 days - A complete introduction and training programme, London, 1999.

Gollwitzer, P., Türmer, J.L . and Wieber, F., Promoting the translation of intentions into action by implementation intentions: behavioral effects and physiological correlates, in: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 14 July 2015 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2015.00395.

Whitmore, J., Coaching for Performance, London, 2009.

on January 9 at 11:05

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