goals stickiesThe New Year is an interesting and paradoxical time of year. It’s a time for renewal and goal-setting that carries with it a bit of excitement at the possibilities for sure.

It’s also a time where the cynic within us can wake up and start chattering incessantly: “Why even bother… you know how it will turn out. You’re fine just where you are. Why work so hard? Sure…give it a go. We’ll see how far we get this year. Or maybe you shouldn’t bother at all.”

With this ‘new year chatter’ plotting against us, it shouldn’t surprise me that the majority of my coaching clients (actually, most of my audience members too) are hesitant to make resolutions at all – in the traditional sense anyway. For many of them, their inner cynic has ‘been there, done that’ and has convinced them that no matter what they want for themselves they just CAN’T have it all. 

So, with an eye to rethinking resolutions, and since there’s still alot of the year ahead, I’m going to tell you what I’ve told them.

#1 Work toward goals not resolutions
It’s a simple reframe that will help you focus on achievement over problem solving.

Resolutions usually force us to list all the things we want to stop doing, start doing, or change; quit smoking, start to exercise, change eating or spending habits, drink less, quit procrastinating…  you get the idea. While all may be worthwhile objectives they are focused on the process (quit, start, stop), not the outcome (health, longevity, financial stability, career growth).

Goals involve a bigger picture approach that, when made effectively, will help you to achieve something worthwhile, and hopefully sustainable. What do you really want for yourself? What’s something you’ve always dreamt of achieving? Rethink what’s important to you and then watch my video on how to add ART to your SMART goals. It will teach you how to set thrilling, resonate goals that you can’t wait to tackle. Dream big if it’s in you. Some truly worthwhile goals may take more time than just a calendar year, which brings me to our second rethink.

#2 Toss out the calendar
I think we put alot of unreasonable stress on ourselves by opening our eyes on January 1st and creating a list of all the ways we could be better. What a buzz-kill from last night’s party! It’s also a bit confining to stamp an end date to our accomplishments.

True, it’s good to set goals that can be achieved before you lose your enthusiasm, or get too old to remember what they were. At the same time, great goals should bring about on-going lifestyle or behaviour change so really, it’s as much about establishing healthy and success-focused habits as it is about putting a check mark beside the accomplished goal.

You can set new goals (and their ‘achieve by’ date) at any time of the year. In fact, why not schedule a quarterly goals rethink for yourself to check in with current goals, realign if you’re off course, and establish new goals as you go!

#3 Decide that you will
Once you set those thrilling and resonate goals, this third step should already be imprinted. Decide that this time you will accomplish the goal, because this time you’ve really thought about it. This time it’s not about pie-in-the-sky resolutions, it’s about meaningful, long-term accomplishments. I know this step might elicit a bit of a “Whatever Michelle… if it was that easy…” But maybe it needs to be that easy? Decide that you will, and then assess.

If the goal is getting away from you, maybe you need to rethink the goal? Firstly, is it the right goal for you right now? If it’s not, dig deep and get clear. I coach alot of people through this process, and when your focus on what’s meaningful to you (seperate from anyone else in your life), and stay true to why you want this, good stuff happens.

If it is the right goal, make it even more meaningful, get downright honest about what’s getting in the way. Amp up your accountability. Adopt a ‘Whatever it Takes’ mindset. The most dialled-in, meaningful goals won’t go away so just tackle them already. Decide that you will, so you can replace rumination with celebration. Just sayin’

#4 Do something different
You won’t reach those goals if you don’t do something different from the way you did it before. Rethink all the things that got in the way of previous efforts.

If you don’t have enough energy and focus, rethink your sleeping habits or food choices.

If distraction draws you away from doing your best work, identify the worst offenders and create a buffer (purge games and social media shortcuts from your devices, shut off email notifications, work in a neutral location). 

Does time of day matter? Are there people around you that sabotage your efforts? Are you too busy focusing on the wrong stuff? Do you need to say NO to some people or tasks? Get clear, and do something different…and keep doing it until you notice a difference.

shutterstock_238439236Goals are achieved through consistent effort over time. The efforts can be small, but consistency is the key. Focus on setting the right goals, worry less about December 31st as pass or fail, decide that this time you will accomplish it, and then get out there and do something different from what you did before. Yup, 4 simple steps that will still require your hard work and focus (Yeah I just said that).

If it was easy more people would be doing it. So, if it’s worth having, it’s worth working for don’t you think?

Carpe Freakin’ Diem my friend!