Updated: Mar 1, 2020
It's a new year. What are your plans? And, more importantly, what are your plans for sticking to your plans?
Only 9 percent of people who set resolutions actually feel they successfully achieve them. With odds like that, why even bother to set goals for this (or any) year?
Perhaps we set ourselves up for failure because we have so much riding on these resolutions. Each year is a clean slate, and all those things that we wanted to achieve haven't gotten anywhere, and this year is going to be different, dang it! And so a lifetime's worth of dreams and goals is suddenly on the line.
Here's an example many can relate to. You want to lose 10 pounds. (OK...maybe 30...) You've wanted to lose 10 pounds every year for as far back as you can remember. And each year, you not only DON'T lose those 10 pounds, but you gain a few more. So the next year, the goal seems even more daunting. And that causes the stakes to move higher. So when you cave and eat a box of donuts, you just want to give up, thinking this isn't something you can do and wondering why you even tried in the first place.
But why do we put this kind of pressure on ourselves? Why do we set ourselves up to fail with these giant year-long goals that seem impossible to achieve? Why don't we, instead, approach these goals and resolutions in a more practical, achievable way?
Probably because we don't really know how. Here's an approach that might help you set and actually CRUSH your goals. I call it the W.O.W. method:
The W.O.W. Goal Setting Method:
W: Ask yourself WHY you want it
O: Take it ONE step at a time
W: Explore WHAT you learned
Let's break it down.
1. WHY do you want it?
The first step in successfully achieving goals is to create a meaningful connection to the goal. Superstar business and life coach Tony Robbins insists that you'll never achieve what you were meant to do on this earth if you don't first find your why. Why do you want it? What will achieving the goal bring you? Avoid thinking in terms of "should" (e.g. I should make more money or I should exercise more), but rather, what does it mean to you? Applying an underlying meaning to the goals you set will help keep up your motivation when life tries to get in the way. As corny as it may sound, creating a vision board that you can see every day is a great way to remind you regularly of your "why."
2. Take it ONE step at a time
The French poet and pioneer aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery famously said, "A goal without a plan is just a wish." Make your goal small enough to break off in bites. Create small, manageable steps to achieving your goal. Every day is a fresh chance to start again on our journey to a goal. Remember the weight loss example? Facing the daunting goal of losing 30 pounds in a year can be really intimidating. But losing 2.5 pounds a month doesn't seem so hard at all! And it gives you a way to track your progress throughout the year, which helps build confidence that you can, in fact, achieve this goal!
3. Explore WHAT you learned
You're going to have setbacks. You'll try things that just don't work. You'll make mistakes. Life will get in the way. This is normal. But if you've executed step 2, your big goals are broken down into micro goals, so small setbacks don't mean you're completely derailed. Failure is essential on the road to success, and the sooner you realize it, the sooner you'll seek it out, so that you can more quickly move the needle. View failures as natural steps in a journey of learning. Reflect on what you learned when you failed to achieve a micro goal, and how you can tweak your approach moving forward. It may mean that you achieve the big goal later than originally planned, but that's much better than never starting in the first place!
Master the W.O.W. approach to any big goal, and you'll be well on your way to becoming a statistic like these people. 2018 is your year. And you're gonna CRUSH it!
p.s. If you're in Chicago, I'm co-hosting a workshop called Resolution Revolution to help you get your goals off the ground, in partnership with Dabble. Join us!