So it’s 1st January 2017 and this month it’s all about new starts.
I have never really bought into the whole ‘New Year, New Me’ thing because I think that if you are serious about working on yourself you shouldn’t have to wait for a new year to make changes in your life, you should start NOW whenever that time may be. But I will admit, there is something really refreshing about the start of a new year and 2017 is feeling even more exciting than usual for me.
When I think back to a year ago I had everything to look forward to in 2016, I had a really good career ahead of me, a lovely car that I could only have dreamt about and I was booking amazing holidays with my friends. But I was feeling completely lost, I was just starting to realise that a career in law was not right for me and it took me so long to admit that to myself. Then when I finally did admit it to myself I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do or how I was going to tell my parents. I knew they would be so disappointed and try to convince me to stick it out. The only thing I did know was that I wanted to start my own business and I knew I had to figure that out and make it work.
Last year if you would of asked me what my goals were for 2016 I would have thought you were asking me what my New Years resolutions were to which I would have replied; ‘Stop eating McDonalds’ (I still haven’t got this one right but I am getting there), ‘Stop spending so much money’ (Nope! Still hasn’t happened, I’m a shopaholic) and ‘Go to the gym more’. Now I realise all of these are not goals, they are resolutions. Goals need to be SMART and these ‘Goals’ of mine from last year were not SMART at all. How could I have measured when I had achieved them. Let’s be honest I could easily say I achieved all of these because I did stop eating McDonalds, saved money and went to the gym more often at intermittent periods throughout the year. They were simply resolutions, things that I would like to stop/start doing. How many times have you set a New Years resolution and said to yourself ‘This time I will stick to it.’? and then one year on you are setting the same New Years resolutions? I bet I could answer that for you.
Now I don’t believe in setting New Years resolutions because people never stick to them, just because it is a new year it doesn’t mean you are going to stop/start doing something. You need to make it a goal, challenge yourself to set a new habit or stop an old habit by a specific date, give it meaning, find the REASON you want to stop/start doing something (read my blog post ‘Purpose Fuels Persistence‘) and make it specific. Figure out how you are going to achieve it before you just jump right into it. Write the goal down and review it everyday to keep you on track.
I was just going through my goals for 2017 and I have a specific way of writing them out which really helps me. It keeps me to stay focussed and makes me really think about the work that needs to go into achieving the goal. So I am going to share this with you: Just as an example I am going to take the New Years resolution from last year of going to the gym more, this way you can see how you can turn your New Years resolutions into goals.
1 Write the goal down.
“I want to go to the gym more.”
2 Check that the goal is SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time.
Is the goal Specific – Not really, it tells me that I want to go to the gym more but it doesn’t tell me why, what I would do when I am there or when I would go.
Is the goal Measurable – Again, not really, I suppose you could measure if you go to the gym more than you used to but you want to put a specific measure on the goal.
If the goal is not Specific or Measurable then you can already tell that it is not SMART so we know that we have to change the goal or give it a bit more structure.
So lets change the goal to “I want to lose x weight by x date by going to the gym 4 times a week.”. You can see that we have flipped this goal to being the reason you wanted to go to the gym more in the first place. This gives t focus, now lets apply the SMART rule.
Is the goal Specific – Yes, it says how much weight I want to lose, when by and how I am going to do that.
Is the goal Measurable – Yes, I will know I will have achieved it when I lose x amount of weight.
Is the goal Achievable – Yes, I know it is achievable because I can go to the gym 4 times a week and put the work in.
Is the goal Realistic – Yes, I know that if I stick to my plan then I can achieve the goal by the date I have set.
Is there a Time limit on the goal – Yes, x date.
3 So now we have our SMART goal write down any obstacles that may get in the way.
Here are some examples:
Tiredness after work
4 Write down what you could do to get around these obstacles.
Could go the gym before work or go to bed earlier.
Make sure to rest the injury and make sure it is fully healed before going back to the gym to make sure you don’t injure yourself more.
Go to the gym on one of your rest days.
5 Write down any other details/questions to ask yourself.
As you are writing out the goal other questions may pop into your head, you should write these down too and the answers if you have them at this stage, if not then write down the question and you can write down the answer when you find it.
You may also want to write down other details such as a what gym you would go to, a timetable to stick to or anything else that will help cement the plan and give you motivation.
6 Review the goal everyday.
Read over the goal everyday and write down any notes on progress or answer any questions you may have found the answers to. Reviewing the goal everyday will keep you focussed on why you are doing what you are doing and this will keep you motivated to keep going.
You might write the goal down and think that it is too big but no goal is too big, just break it down into mini goals and it will all come together if you follow this process for each one.
So ditch the New Years Resolutions and get started on your goals for 2017. I’ve got a good feeling about 2017 and I can’t wait to get started on my goals for this year.
Happy New Year everyone.