To the New Year's Resolution Haters (and Lovers)

    We are in the third week of 2015; the week that motivation wanes and resolutions begin to fall by the wayside. Even if you were feeling exceptionally driven on January 1, those feelings tend to fade as we near February. I’ve seen several anti-resolution posts on social media. Around the New Year, Facebook was filled with two camps: the resolution setters and the annoyed anti-resolution crowd.  There was even a meme saying, “Brace yourself, here come the resolutions”. I sensed a smug tone in a joke that the gym was starting to thin out again, back to the committed regulars. As an author of a book largely devoted to goal-setting, of course I think that January is the most wonderful time of the year. I applaud those who set resolutions, but I also know that a small percentage will actually follow through. I suppose that is the objection of the anti-resolution crowd. They are not inspired to set goals in line with the calendar, and are introspective enough to know not to set a goal if they will not indeed work towards it. They know that it feels bad to fall off the New Year’s bandwagon, and avoid putting themselves through an unnecessary struggle.

    No matter which side you identify with, I think we can all agree with the necessity of strategy in the life of a successful person. I want to have a chat about plans, even with the anti-resolution people. Maybe you don’t even like the word “goal” and can’t remember the last time you wrote one down. Let’s not get caught up in semantics. Are you still excited about the last aim you set your mind to? Even if you are not one to set goals based on the New Year, gauge your commitment level to the last goal you set. See, I refuse to let anyone out of goal-setting just because they have a negative association to the word. Goals and resolutions are important markers in our lives to push us towards our best selves.

    Bill Copeland wisely said, “The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your whole life running up and down the field and never score.” Sports fans will realize the wisdom in this analogy: if there were no goal lines, no baskets or posts, there would be no win for either side! The problem with having no clear way to win is that there is also no way to lose. Could the avoidance of goal-setting and resolution-making really be a form of self-protection from the feeling of failure?

    No one likes to lose. Losing in basketball is bad enough; losing in our income objective or weight goal is flat out discouraging. I could never count the number of times I have settled for less, not taken a risk, and played it safe to avoid the feeling of failure. It does take courage to set goals. It takes introspection to set a resolution. If you have avoided goal-setting because you knew you would simply not put in the work needed, then I applaud you for knowing yourself. It’s important to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound), not unrealistic ones. This is how we set ourselves up to win!

Take a moment and ask yourself, “In what ways am I not setting a clear goal so that I will not expose the fact that I have failed to achieve it?”

Did you already set a goal but now you’re struggling? Here’s the good news: it is natural to feel stuck when you don’t have a plan. See #2 below.

So, dear anti-resolution friend, Do you want to give goal-setting a chance? I’ll give you a prompt that meets you where you are.

1.      Maybe you don’t know what goal to set because you’re feeling uninspired. You may need to get in touch with yourself! Block out some time to first think about who you are and what makes you unique. Celebrate what you are good at and what interests you. Dream a bit, and see a vision of what you want your future self to be like. Once you have done this, determine a point in your life where you would like to grow and develop into your vision. See if there is a goal you can set that will get you closer to this picture of your future. What would be a really great “win” in your life?

2.     Maybe there is a goal that comes to mind that is too big to even know where to start. High five for knowing what you want and having big dreams for yourself! Check in to make sure that this goal fits into SMART goal format. Write the goal at the bottom of a page and start filling in any steps you know you will need to take. Think about the process in reverse if you get stuck. Once you have an outline, you can fill it in with more and more detail. Write out the steps you will need to take this month, this week, and even today. Big goals are accomplished the same a little goals- one step at a time!

3.      Maybe goal setting is a struggle just because you have not done it before. Here’s my general formula: dream, set a good goal, write out a plan, fill in the details, and then take action consistently. If you need more help, check out my book (read the first chapter here) I take the reader through a detailed goal setting process to set you on the right path. If you do not learn well from books and need a more personal approach, I offer one-on-one coaching programs to help you achieve your goals and become your best self. The “New Year/New Goal Kickstart Coaching Program” gives your four sessions to set an awesome goal and make a do-able plan. We can course-correct at the beginning to make sure you are on track to success. The “Resolution to Reality Coaching Program” includes 13 sessions: either one per month or two per month for six months. This ensures that you have support long term though ups and downs until your resolution is a reality!

    I would love to hear what goal you have set! I’ll share a fun one that I just started this year: drink hot lemon water each morning and eat alkaline foods to lower my PH.