Project Practitioners > New Year's Resolutions - How To Make Sure Yours Actually Come To Pass

New Year's Resolutions - How To Make Sure Yours Actually Come To Pass

By ProjectConnections Staff

Various studies have demonstrated that only 8 - 10% of individuals actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions. And this statistic cuts across educational lines, professions, and income levels, i.e., it’s pretty much universal.  Pretty dismal when you think about it – but one really has to question why that’s the case. As an avid goal setter and personal improvement junkie,  I decided to do some research into how I could improve my own chances of achieving my own resolutions.  I’d like to share what I’ve found out. 

First, much of the standard advice really does apply. Resolutions (or goals if you prefer) should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Bound), written, communicated to those close to you so you have some reputation skin in the game if you don’t achieve them, posted in one or more places where you’ll see them daily, personally meaningful (i.e., they should not be someone else’s goals for you), allow you to leverage the transformative power of habit and tangible  (something that you’ll be able to know you’ve achieved when you achieve it).

One can follow this time-honored advice, however, and still not achieve one’s goals so while all of these things are important, they’re clearly not enough.  So what’s the “secret sauce” to achieving one’s goals? 

In a word, commitment.  For most people resolutions and goals are more like wishes – here one day, gone the next (or whenever we encounter obstacles or realize that some work or inconvenience will be involved). Who wouldn’t like to be more fit, more accomplished, more financially secure? Wanting and wishing are never enough though. 

To achieve anything of value in any area of life, you need to be committed to it.  That means, making a decision that you’re going to go after it no matter what, believing 100% that you’re capable of achieving it and finally, putting structures and controls in place to make sure you go after it.  Those structures could include things as simple as laying out your workout clothes the night before, setting up automatic transfers into your savings or investment accounts, placing the alarm clock on the bureau so you’ll have to actually get out of bed to shut it off instead of just smacking down the snooze button... you get the idea.  Nothing magical here, but these strategies work.

An interesting story is told about the young JFK. Though they were quite wealthy, his parents were very strict about their children taking care of their personal possessions including their clothing. When out with his friends or coming home from school, if he come to a wall that seemed too high or too difficult to climb, he would take off his cap and toss it over the wall, leaving him with no choice but to scale the wall and retrieve it, or else suffer the wrath of his parents. Ancient Greek warriors displayed unwavering "life or death" commitment to winning. Upon arriving on enemy shores, the first orders would be to “burn the boats,” leaving themselves with no means of retreat and only two options, victory or certain death.

Real commitment is not wishy-washy or maybe. It's "all in".   I believe this is one of the great secrets to achieving goals in any area, whether business or personal. It’s about structuring our lives and environments so that we really have no choice but to achieve the goals that are important to us, thus virtually ensuring our own success.  In a world where tempting diversions, creature comforts and procrastination are always beckoning us with their siren calls, don’t allow yourself an easy out by passive goal setting and wishing.  Give yourself a real chance for success by making firm, do-or-die commitments – “toss your cap” over whatever “wall” it is you’re facing and eliminate all options for retreat. 

Our thanks to guest contributor Dave Bouchard.

Related Articles:

http://blog.projectconnections.com/kimberly_wiefling/2011/11/creativity-in-business-its-going-to-get-weird.html - Creativity is the root of innovation...but it requires a suspension of disbelief.

http://blog.projectconnections.com/project_practitioners/2010/11/the-elegance-of-simplicity.html - Sometimes the most effective solutions are the simplest ones.

http://blog.projectconnections.com/project_practitioners/2010/11/three-steps-to-getting-unstuck-lessons-learned-from-a-ground-squirrel.html - Three steps to getting unstuck when facing a challenge or a problem.

Related Templates:

http://www.projectconnections.com/templates/detail/priorities-goals-worksheet.html - Capture critical personal goals, prioritize them, and develop personal action plans aligned with those priorities.

http://www.projectconnections.com/templates/detail/problem-solving-tools-techniques.html - Six different problem-solving tools help you do everything from determining root causes to assessing possible solutions, and outline a basic problem-solving strategy so you can be sure you've covered all the bases.



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