Who is kicking off the year with energetic professional and personal goals? Even if it’s simply around creating more balance, being more present, or giving back in bigger ways – we all set an intention for how we want this year to be better than the last. Think back to past years, did your intentions and goals come to fruition?
Sadly, a quick Google search on New Year’s resolutions will show you numerous articles indicating less than 10% of people keep their resolutions. So, how do we beat the odds and create goals that stick?
Big Picture Goals vs. Bite Size Tasks
Going into the New Year, it’s easy to have our eye on the prize – the big goal you’d like to achieve in the next three, six, or even 12 months. But how often do we really dig in and determine at a granular level how to achieve it?
Raise your hand if you ever created a goal like “lose 20 pounds by March”, but failed to create a specific plan on how to do it?
Instead, we tell ourselves things like, I’ll eat out less, work out more, have wine only one night per week. The list goes on, and by the time March comes, we’ve given up on eating out less because we never had a plan for cooking at home. We didn’t work out more, because we didn’t really know what workouts would support our goal. And the wine? Well, we didn’t do the rest of it, so why not have the wine?
As the old adage goes, lack of a plan is a plan to fail. So as you move into 2021 with all of those big goals in mind, don’t forget to be intentional about sitting down to do the planning. Create small, measurable wins that you can achieve quickly, as well as longer term milestones to help you track your progress.
Reflecting back on our weight loss example, instead of saying eat out less, ask yourself questions to identify actions you can take to meet that goal. For example: how many times a week are you currently eating out? How many times per week could you reasonably cook at home? Do you have the time or skills to meal prep in advance of your week? Do you have someone who can help with that additional workload?
When you break down your goal and ask yourself realistic questions about what needs to happen to achieve it, you’re able to identify many potential obstacles up front and create a plan to overcome them.
Checking in With Yourself
So you have the goal and have decided on measurable action steps to help achieve the goal. Now what?
Measure your progress. If you really want to achieve your goal, it is critical to schedule time to check in with yourself regularly. This could be daily, weekly, but no less than monthly.
Studies show that frequent check-ins greatly improve your likelihood of achieving your goals. This means you must schedule that time to review what you’re measuring, be open to adapting your plan as needed and celebrate your small victories.
What does that look like? Let’s go back to our weight loss goal.
If you want to lose 20 pounds by March, you probably want to measure your starting weight. From there, you would create a plan to weigh yourself minimally each week. By gathering this data, you can determine whether the needle is literally moving in the right direction. If the plan is to lose 20 pounds in 12 weeks, celebrate losing 1.5 pounds in a week.
In addition to celebrating small wins, it’s important to redirect your efforts when you’re not seeing the results you’re working towards. Frequent check-ins allow you to pivot before it’s too late.
One Step at a Time
While it can seem daunting to tackle a giant goal, it’s not insurmountable. The bottom line is when you create goals, you have to be able to not only have the big picture vision of the end result, but also the ability to break that vision into smaller, measurable chunks upon which you can take action. By making the commitment to check your progress regularly, you are keeping that goal front and center and making progress a priority.
What goals do you have for 2021?