1. Start With Data.
One of the big mistakes people make when tackling New Year’s resolutions is forgetting to begin with data! If you don’t know where you are when you start, it’s hard to tell that you’ve made progress. We seem to do this well for weight related goals — we get on the scale and take before pictures, or take body measurements. Collecting start data for every goal is a big help when you are feeling discouraged in the midst of goal-getting.
Don’t know where to start? Do a Velocity Life Review – it collects your satisfaction scores in ten common areas of life & career (health & wellness, personal and professional relationships, fun & leisure, community, personal development, finances & compensation, strengths & values alignment, leadership, and communication). We’ll email you your results & analysis for free!
2. Make Your Goal HAPPY.
Harmonious – aligned with your other goals & life circumstances.
Authentic – aligned with your values and strengths.
Process-Driven – focused on both the journey and the destination.
Precise – specific, data-driven, with set benchmarks for success, and
Yielding – allowed to be redefined to meet needs & limitations.
How do your resolutions rate on the HAPPY scale?
3. Know Your Values.
This may seem like silly waste of time– how does knowing your values help you lose that last 10 pounds? But the truth is, so many goals fall by the wayside because they don’t align with what is actually important in your life.
So, how does losing ten pounds fit into your personal core values? For me, “love” is one of my values. Focusing on my health is a way for me to show love for myself and my body.
Try narrowing your rules to live by down to five or six key words or phrases. Then decide if your goals align to your values. Read about one of our client’s experience with figuring out her core values here.
4. Know Your Strengths.
Aren’t resolutions about improving weaknesses? Why would we ask you to focus on strengths? For two reasons: first, research suggests that people who live a strengths-based life experience more well-being and success. Second, strengths are the best tools you have to develop areas of weakness.
I spent *years* trying to convince myself to use the gym regularly. With a 21 of 24 strength of self-regulation, it’s not surprising that the gym habit never stuck. I reframed my goal to use my #1 strength (creativity). Instead of “going to the gym” I chose to “be active” every day. With a Nike Fuel Band to track my activity, I have built the most consistent habit of active living in my life.
You can find your strengths by taking the preeminent assessment of Character Strengths (VIA Survey of Character Strengths).
5. Check Your Bandwidth
Do you have the time and energy to commit to your goal in 2014 or are you just hoping that it’ll somehow work out? Bandwidth isn’t a one-time check on goal alignment (tip #2), it the day to day energy you have to focus on your job, family, life maintenance, and your goals.
You can increase your daily bandwidth by rigorously focusing on these six rules: 1) Get Enough Sleep; 2) Eat Well; 3) Get Active Daily; 4) Avoid Illness; 5) Eliminate Stressors; and 6) Practice Positivity. These are all pretty obvious, but I bet you struggle now with at least one of them. Make these six a priority and you’ll find that you have the time and energy to achieve any goal.
6. Start Small (Smaller Than That)!
The science of habit building suggests that when we are learning something new, and particularly something we don’t already have an aptitude for, small steps are best. Why? We need to build up “wins” in order to feel like we are making progress.
Let’s imagine Alice and Bob are both working on getting more active. Alice commits to working out at the gym five times a week for an hour. Bob commits to working out at least once in the gym, and being active at least 15 minutes four times a week.
At the end of the week, they have both gone to the gym four times for a hour hour each time. Alice feels like a failure and wants to quit. Bob is proud of over-achieving on his goal and is motivated to keep going.
The lesson? Start small and you’ll finish big!
7. Eliminate Your Personal Roadblocks.
We’ve already covered a few obvious roadblocks: goal misalignment (tip #2) and lack of bandwidth (tip #5). But it’s the less obvious personal roadblocks that are far more insidious. We’ve all had past experiences that have made us feel we are too much or not enough.
By first identifying the internal message and then choosing to discard it, I tackled some serious physical challenges, including finishing a triathlon! What messages are holding you back?
8. Get a Posse.
One of my favorite achievers of 2013 was 64-year-old Diana Nyad, who completed an unassisted 110 mile swim between Cuba and Florida. It was her fifth attempt over thirty-six years! As she emerged from the water, she offered this advice, “…it looks like a solitary sport but it [takes] a team.”
Win-win relationships (those with balanced give-and-take support) are critical to our ability to stay positive and overcome adversity.
Take stock of the five people you spend the most time with. At least a few of them will be your coworkers. Rate them on a 0-10 scale (10 being best). If your score for the five people combined is less than 35, it’s time to make some changes.
9. Get Dynamic!
Researcher Brené Brown has spent much of her career taking a stand against perfectionism. In her book The Gifts of Imperfection, she writes, “Perfectionism is self-destructive simply because there is no such thing as perfect. Perfection is an unattainable goal. Additionally, perfection is more about perception – we want to be perceived as perfect. Again, that is unattainable — there is no way to control perception, regardless of how much time and energy we spend trying.”
Can you related to any of these perfectionist traits? Fear of failure, focus on destination only, all or nothing thinking, defensiveness, fault-finding, self-critical, rigid, need to do it all, habitual procrastinator.
Understand that you will likely screw up in pursuit of your goal. You’ll probably fail a time or two. That’s ok. It’s not about having a perfect record. It’s about continuing to try, to learn, to grow.