Don’t be part of the 80% — Stay the course
If you are like most people, me included, in January of this year, you made a few New Year’s Resolutions and set some personal and professional goals for the upcoming year. For the first time in many years, I really enjoyed the process of goal setting for this year. Why? Because with the help of my coach, I developed a lot of clarity around what I wanted to accomplish this year. But it was not an easy task, it took a lot of work to get my goals mapped out and a plan in place to ensure I would stay on task and accomplish the goals set before me — but staying the course is the harder part of this process.
Based on recent studies, we are at the time of the year that almost 80% of people give up on their goals for the year. The timing of giving up goals 3-4 months into the year can be attributed to a variety of reasons, including the fact that many goals might be too big — too aspirational and not focused enough. The goals we set require change, and at this point in the year, it’s usually pretty clear whether you simply just don’t want to change or you're scared of it. And reluctance to change is what makes it feel easier to just give up on our goals than to put in the work.
But I believe the biggest reason people give up on their goals is the goals are not connected to a why!
That’s the part that most people miss — we have to ask ourselves on a daily basis, “Why is this important to me?” and to truly define our intentions, and what’s crazy is that it’s actually the most important part of goal setting. If you don’t know why the goal is important and you can’t articulate it, then why are you setting it? Why is it a goal?
To give you an example, let’s break down one of the most common goal people set: To live a healthy/healthier lifestyle. That’s a great goal, but it’s way too aspirational — and WAY too broad. What does that actually mean “to live a healthy lifestyle”? What does “healthy” mean to you? Every person reading this article will have a different perspective on what habits are reasonable to expect from themselves and what foods are the healthiest for your body type. Some will say to eat better, some will say to workout, and others will say something completely different.
The point here is that a goal like “living a healthy lifestyle” should actually be broken down into multiple action-oriented goals. For this example, let’s just focus on one aspect of the healthy lifestyle process — let’s say the new goal (from my own personal experience) is: “To lose 40 pounds by June 1, 2021.” This goal is written with lots of specifics, it’s measurable and has a time commitment attached to it. It’s exactly the type of goal you should set!
So, why is the topic of goal setting one we’re discussing this spring? Well, a few months ago, I stepped on the scale at my heaviest weight ever, and I did not like what I saw! I did not have the energy I needed to get the things done that I want to accomplish every day, and as I enter this next chapter of my life, I want my health to be different and in a different spot on my priority list. I decided then and there that I wanted to be fit and healthy, so I can enjoy life more and longer. Additionally, being an entrepreneur, having a healthy lifestyle is the fuel I need to keep moving forward and build on creativity day after day. So I wrote out a specific, measurable weight loss goal for myself (complete with an article about it to keep myself accountable, right?).
Now, I have a specific and measurable goal, I know why this goal is important to me and my lifestyle — so the next step is to create a simple action plan. In this case, it includes 3 components: (1) change my diet — which I did, thanks to a friend who introduced me to Optavia; (2) drink more water — 130 ounces per day — which I do and wow, what an impact that has had on my mental clarity; (3) Walk at least 5,000 steps per day, (I really want to do 10K, but it's its been a challenge during quarantine).
The next step is accountability in my everyday life. I put accountability in place in a few different ways. First, I have a health coach that holds me accountable. I also weigh in each week on Monday morning and keep track of my weight loss in a journal. And thirdly, likely the most important, my wife is on this journey with me, doing the same things, so we hold each other accountable to our decisions — especially those involving the choices we make when dining out!
So, as you can see, I have a specific goal, a plan, and accountability — these three ingredients make up a path to success in accomplishing this goal (and I’m only 10 pounds away!!!). Goal setting can be daunting, and making an actionable plan to accomplish the goal is the step that most people forget along the way. Actually achieving the goal takes commitment and dedication, so set yourself up for success by making a plan ahead of time.
I don’t want you to be part of the 80% dropping their goals before the year’s even halfway finished! I want you to be part of the elite 20% that actually stays the course, and not only accomplishes their goals, but crushes them!
Goal setting does not have to be a hard or daunting task. Make it fun and exciting! The best way to get started is to just start. So let’s look at a quick framework that can help you. First, block time on your calendar — make an appointment with yourself for 2 hours to work on setting your goals. Pick a time that works best for you and don’t let anything get in the way of this — keep this appointment with yourself. For me, early morning works best.
Next, brainstorm with yourself for a few minutes. What do you want to accomplish this year? Don’t overthink this, just start writing what comes up, in random order, random sentences, just start writing the things you want to accomplish.
Then, review the list and select 4 things you want to turn into goals. This step is where most people go wrong, they set way too many goals and the list becomes overwhelming! Keep it simple and just set a few — then when you accomplish them, you can set more. Remember, life is a journey, not a race to some obscure finish line.
Now that you have your 4 goals selected, make sure they are specific and measurable goals. If you’d like, you can use the SMART goal framework to help you — S - Specific, M - Measurable, A - Attainable, R - Relevant and T - Time bound. If you’re not familiar with this goal setting framework, you can Google it and get a ton of articles and resources on this - it’s not new, nor is it perfect, but it will help you take an aspirational goal and turn it into a real goal that will keep you motivated to move forward.
You can refer to my weight loss goal at the beginning of this column for a great example of taking an aspirational goal to a SMART goal.
The next step is to answer the why question. Why is this goal important to me? Don’t miss this step! If you can’t come up with a good why, then it’s likely not the right goal for you.
From there, make your plan — keep it simple. Just 4-5 steps or actions that you need to take to accomplish the goal. Remember, a goal without a plan is just a dream! The plan gives you the roadmap to success.
Goal setting does not have to be hard or complicated and if you implement this framework, I’m confident you will move forward to what you want to do and accomplish in your life!
Don’t give up! Keep going! Be part of the elite 20% of the population that actually stays the course and accomplishes their goals — better yet, let’s increase that statistic to at least 50% of us getting our goals checked off. If you need help, ask a friend or colleague to support you and become your accountability buddy! Together you can both win.
There is a lot of noise in the world today that can distract and derail us — stay intently focused on you, your family, your career and the things that are important to you! You got this! And I’m cheering you on as well. Be sure to visit my blog at www.sidmeadows.com/blog and let me know what you are doing to make this year, your best year yet!