Less than a month ago, you probably thought a bit about what you achieved in 2014 and what you would like to achieve in 2015 and set your New Years resolutions. Now, you may be wondering how to improve your New Year’s resolution success rate.
Have your New Year’s resolutions been abandoned already?
Most people set resolutions and goals for the year really intending to change something in the New Year. January is apparently the busiest time of the year for gym memberships, which goes to prove that losing weight is one of the most popular (if that’s the right word) New Year’s resolutions.
Maxwell Maltz was the plastic surgeon who in the 1950’s noticed that it took his amputee patients, and patients who had undergone plastic surgery that had altered their face, about 21 days to adjust to their new situation.
After observing this phenomenon, he also noted it took him about 21 days minimum to form a new habit. Interesting stuff, and if you put this into place in your own goal setting, that would mean that many of the New Year’s goals you had set for yourself would have been accomplished by the 21st of January.
Yet, 92% of people don’t achieve their goals.
There are two reasons for this. First, remember Dr. Maltz’s theory about how it only takes 21 days to adopt a new habit? Unfortunately, it was not based on any sound science. It was merely an observation. But after he published his thoughts in a book called Psycho-Cybernetics, which sold over 30 million copies, the word had spread and is now recited by many of the great self-help Guru’s.
So how long does it take before a new behavior becomes an automatic habit? According to recent studies by Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, on average it takes 66 days.
She also found that, “missing one opportunity to perform the behavior did not materially affect the habit formation process.” So if you started out strong and went 14 or even 21 days completing an action to reach your goal, but then fell short a couple of days, it’s okay. Adopting better habits is about staying committed to what it takes to achieve the goal over time, and forgiving yourself if you mess-up now and then.
How To Become One of The 8% Who Achieve Their Goals And Make Their Dreams Come True
Let me break it down into a step-by-step process:
1. The first step is to set achievable goals
…AND, you must write them down. Research shows that writing your goals down dramatically increases the probability you will achieve them. Your goals need to be a little out of your comfort zone, but not unrealistic. They also need to be specific so that it is easier to measure whether you have accomplished them or not, and you need to give yourself a date for completion.
Losing weight, for example, is not a specific goal! But losing 30lbs by 4th July is specific and achievable.
You can count how far you have come, work out how much you need to do each week, and actually get it done. Your goal might be to eat better, but in order to get it done you have to define it – a salad a day and no sugar – and then do it…
…which leads to the next step, now that you’ve written down your specific, measurable and realistic goals, you must
2. Establish A DAILY Action Plan & Expected Short Term Results
When we work with clients one-on-one, this is the crucial step in helping them achieve BIG dreams. Without setting a daily action plan, your dreams stay just as they are, dreams. But with daily attention and action, your dreams can and will become your destiny. It’s also recommended to break down the big result (from achieving your goal), into smaller results.
For example, you might be a student with many books to read every term. OR, maybe your goal is to become a more educated person in a certain field or topic. You can figure out how many books it will take to achieve your goal (if you are a student, your teachers will decide this for you), the amount of time that is reasonable to read them all in (the term for the student – if you are reading to become an expert on a certain topic, you can generally accomplish this in 90 days) then set an action plan that specifies how many pages you need to read each day.
The expected short term result might be that you will have read X number of chapters each week.
The last step is also crucial for success…
3. Track Your Progress – Adjust Accordingly
In order to attain success with your goals, you must track your progress. If you took daily action as you outlined in step 2, celebrate the fact that you did. It can be as small of a celebration as a fist pump or a high five with an accountability partner. Then look at your results, measure effectiveness and adjust if necessary.
If, for example, your goal is to lose 30 lbs by July 4, then breaking that down into actionable steps might look something like:
– gym workout 4x/wk
– one sweet treat only on weekend
– drink 1 gallon of H2O/day
– And the weekly resulting goal is to lose 1.5lbs
By looking at your results each week, you can adjust your plan if you aren’t achieving the short term goals that will lead to achieving the longer term outcome. So in this example if at the end of your healthy lifestyle week 1, you didn’t lose 1.5lbs, you may need to adjust your plan, throw in more exercise, adjust calorie intake, hire a trainer, etc.
Those activities will enable you to improve your New Year’s resolution success rate. And, to help you stay motivated, make a list of your reasons why, what inspires you to achieve the goal? Don’t write down reasons like: “I want to make $100,000 this year so I will have more money.” Instead, write down what having that money will do for you. Things like, being able to take a vacation, paying off a debt, going out more, buying your first home, or a dream home, etc.