Stop Making New Year's Resolutions: Do This Instead...
5 Simple Mindset Shifts that Will Supercharge Your Goal Achievement (While Eliminating New Year's Resolutions!)
Most people who set New Year's Resolutions fail.
Studies indicate that a whopping 88% of people who make New Year's Resolutions fail to achieve them.1 Moreover, more than half of these New Year's Resolvers disclosed high confidence in their ability to set and achieve these goals. Clearly, the chasm between goal-setting and goal-achieving is wider than most expect.
So why do so many people fail at achieving their New Year's Resolutions? And how can you ensure you don't suffer the same fate?
We put together five powerful strategies to transform you into a goal-achieving powerhouse with the potential for life-changing outcomes. And suddenly, you'' discover that New Year's Resolutions are unnecessary, a futile exercise reserved for the rest of the world.
STRATEGY #1: Make Goal-Setting a Regular Habit
Do you make New Year's Resolutions every year?
If so, you're actually confessing that goal-setting is one time, annual event. This simple truth foretells failure. If someone says, Oh, my New Year's Resolution is XYZ! I know that person doesn't set any goals during the year. If the first day of January (or the last week in December) is the only time you set goals, guess what? You will fail at your New Year's Resolutions.
Goal-setting is not a yearly activity; it's a daily one.
Your first step at becoming a high achiever is to stop making New Year's Resolutions. Yes, stop making New Year's Resolutions! But please, don't confuse this strategy with "stop setting goals."
I don't make New Year's Resolutions; I prefer to make weekly goals. Every week provides me a time to reflect and make new resolutions. A "new year's goal" is as automatic as a goal set on any week during the year.
But I don't stop there. My weekly goals are always connected to a larger goal. This reductionism to the near-term makes the long-term possible.
People who consistently hit their goals set them weekly, if not monthly. There's an irony here: High achievers have made goal-setting a regular habit. In contrast, goal failures make goal-setting an annual event.
If you do not have a habit of setting goals and working towards them, you do not have the necessary training to hit your goals on the rare occasion you do set one.
Want to conquer the New Year?
Goal-setting must become a habit. Habits come from consistent practice, not random declarations made on January 1st. Set and meet goals more often than once per year. People who don't have goal-setting habits during the year won't suddenly have them at the beginning of the year.
“We don't have a goal-setting problem. People set goals every New Year. The problem is, most people who fail at their goals don't have a systematic process for achieving them, a guiding blueprint that inspires and rewards daily progress until that exhilarating moment when a goal becomes a reality.— MJ DeMarco
ACTIONABLE: Make goal-setting a weekly or monthly habit.
STRATEGY #2: Think Big, But Act Small
The first standard of setting practical goals and ending New Year's Resolution defeat is to make significant goals. If your goals don't excite and inspire your soul, you need to think bigger. Don't aim for mediocrity. Most people think small and sadly underestimate what they can achieve in a few short months or years of dedicated effort. A larger-than-life goal forces you to grow and develop into someone new, a person capable of achieving the goal.
But wait, aren't bold, unrealistic goals why most New Year's Resolutions fail?
In 2014, Finder.com.au issued a report on New Year's Resolutions revealing that 35% of participants who failed their Resolutions admitted they had unrealistic goals.
The problem, however, is not unrealistic ambition.
The problem is that most people fail to minimize that big goal into smaller obtainable goals. An unrealistic goal remains unrealistic if it isn't deconstructed into actionable, bite-sized steps. These bite-sized steps should be reduced to weekly, or better, daily objectives. You can only run the marathon's 26th mile once you've run mile number 1.
For example, an unrealistic New Year's Resolution (or a goal) is to "stop smoking" when you've been smoking for the last twenty years. However, if you add measurable, granular pieces to this goal, such as "smoke 5 cigarettes less per day for the next week," your big goal becomes realistic. You're dreaming big but acting small.
No matter how ambitious, any goal you set at GoalSumo can be reverse-engineered and blueprinted into smaller, attainable time silos right down to your daily tasks. This "chaining process" creates a chain reaction from small goals to big goals. This is how your seemingly impossible dreams transform from an improbable fantasy to a potential reality.
“One part at a time, one day at a time, we can accomplish any goal we set for ourselves.— Karen Casey
ACTIONABLE: Reverse-engineer ambitious goals into smaller sub-goals.
STRATEGY #3: Put Some "Power" Into Your Day
After I graduated from college, I noticed a disturbing trend. I had goals, but day after day, I struggled to prioritize them. Instead of making progress, I was trapped in life's inertia; going to work, paying bills, and trying to move out of my childhood home. My big goals were a fantasy because the actions to achieve them never made it to my "to do" list. Like many New Year's Resolutions, they were quickly forgotten.
In the 2014 Finder.com.au study mentioned above, 33% of New Year's resolvers did not track their progress, and 23% forgot their resolutions entirely. This data is disheartening, but it reveals actionable steps that can keep your progress tracked for success.
Remember Strategy #1: Only when goals become a habit do they become achievable. This goes beyond goal setting; your daily actions must move the needle on those goals. What's the point of setting a goal if you aren't going to address them regularly?
Goals that are not part of your daily life are forgotten.
Things started to change for me when I made it a habit to do one thing every day that moved me closer to a goal. Sometimes this was fitness related, sometimes business. Every day, you should do at least ONE THING that moves you closer to your goals.s
At GoalSumo, we call this a Power Task, a daily "to-do" list action that moves your closer to a specified goal. Any task that chains to your goals, including your Power Task, is emphasized (and rewarded) on your GoalSumo daily task list.
This chaining process is fundamental to GoalSumo, as we are the only goal-setting system that targets your big dreams with daily productivity. We aren't a goal-setting system; we're a goal-achievement system.
For example, if your ultimate goal is to run a marathon, the Power Task for your day might be running a half mile or signing up for a 5k. Your weekly goal could be to run one mile in under 10 minutes. Next week, it can be two miles in under 18 minutes.
Your Power Task for the day should push you toward your weekly goals. This forces you to consider today's actions that push you closer to tomorrow's dreams.
So what does your daily to-do list look like? Do you have a Power Task? How often is the most important thing for your goals neglected and absent from your "to do" list? If you're using a pen-and-paper to-do list, make yourself a daily Power Task and emphasize it. Make it known that "I can't put this off."
Not only must goal-setting become a habit, but goal execution must also.
Use a system that prioritizes, tracks, and focuses on your near-term goals. Goals should inspire and empower you, but they also allow you to build the necessary habits to achieve them, unlocking your superpowers behind goal achievement. Giving yourself a daily Power Task is critical to this mission.
If you complete a big goal or a New Year's Resolution, it will be because of daily actions like these which build habits. Complete one Power Task daily, and big goals suddenly become less daunting and appear smaller.
“It is not enough to take steps which may someday lead to a goal; each step must be itself a goal and a step likewise.— Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
ACTIONABLE: Set a daily Power Task, an action item that moves you one small step closer to a goal.
STRATEGY #4: Reward or Gamify Small Wins
Give yourself the credit you deserve. The simple fact that you are setting goals outside of New Year's Resolutions puts you in elite company.
Any movement toward a big goal, achieving a weekly or monthly goal, deserves a reward. Rewards can be as simple as a nice dinner or a weekend staycation at a lavish hotel. Recognize incremental improvement and habits as part of your journey. If running a complete marathon is your goal, celebrate the milestones: your first mile, fifth mile, and tenth mile deserve a celebration!
Another option is to gamify goal achievement. Partner with an accountability partner and make a bet on specific goal metrics. The loser pays the winner. Or, you share in your mutual victories with a trip to Vegas or a nice dinner. Turn goals into a fun competition that will make memories for a lifetime.
As the old saying goes, it's not the destination but the journey. Make sure your journey has memorable rewards that you love looking back on. GoalSumo incorporates both rewards and gamification, so you stay motivated and enthusiastic.
“A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, he will know he has been alive.— Walt Disney
ACTIONABLE: Make goal execution exciting with gamification and reward your small wins.
STRATEGY #5: Prioritize Dreams: Use a Goal-Setting System
I wrote down my goals for years, and little changed. Only when I started segmenting my goals and prioritizing them on my daily "to do" list was when things began to change.
Back then, I used a journal to break free from my goal-setting failures. In this journal, I recorded rudimentary thought exercises for my week. I meditated on what I needed to do this week to move closer to my dreams.
“Set a goal to achieve something that is so big, so exhilarating that it excites you and scares you at the same time.— Bob Proctor
Today, many great tools exist on the internet to help you achieve your dreams, including our 1/5/10 daily planner, which you can download for FREE. However, many web-based tools are terribly complicated and more suitable for corporate project management than personal goal achievement. When you use these tools, ask yourself: do you feel like the tool had YOU and YOUR goals in mind?
We didn't, so we built GoalSumo for humans with dreams, not corporations with KPIs. It is simple yet incredibly powerful. And with a touch of gamification, it can be fun too!
Sound too good to be true? Set a life goal right now, for free! A few minutes of deliberative thought could be the best investment you make in your lifetime. And then, when your friends ask about your New Year's resolutions, you can smile and say, "I don't need them."
See you in the victory circle.
MJ DeMarco, Cofounder
ACTIONABLE: Use a goal setting system like GoalSumo or our daily planner.
1 Lehrer, Jonah (December 26th, 2009). "Blame It on the Brain". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660.
2 Hutchison, Michelle (December 29th 2014). "Bunch of failures or just optimistic? finder.com.au New Year's Resolution Study shows New Year novelty fizzles fast - finder.com.au". via Wikipedia