To Resolution or Not To Resolution – If That’s Your Question – Here’s Your Answer!

To Resolution or Not To Resolution - If That's Your Question - Here's Your Answer!

The fact is 25% of people abandon their new year’s resolutions after just one month and more than 60% abandon them after 6 months (to be honest, I’m surprised it’s not higher.) Whether or not you’re sitting down to make your new year’s resolutions today or not, , the question becomes, how can you set important goals for your life that really make it better?

I read a really interesting article recently questioning the value of goals. Instead the author advocated for creating systems, which you perform day in and day out, to reach your goals. Other business experts and performance coaches recommend “SMART” goals: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely goals that you can track to assess your progress along the journey.

I find myself believing that effective goal-setting and achieving actually lies at the intersection of long-term vision, systems, and happiness.

Here are the three essentials you need to create sustainable New Year’s Resolutions:

VISION: Let’s start with vision. Naturally you need meaningful goals. If you aren’t headed somewhere very rewarding, it will soon begin to feel like a constant slog to reach those goals. You need something beyond meaning though to compel you – you need an attractive vision that you can really picture – something that draws you towards it. Ideally a destination you can picture, and to then which you can create a roadmap.

I imagine the vision part of goal-setting as the sight that draws your eyes upwards so you don’t spend all your time looking downwards, lamenting that you haven’t reached your goal yet.

SYSTEMS: This could easily be called rituals or habits. These are the day-in, day-out things that you repeat over and over again because you know they will lead to your eventual success.

If you are trying to lose weight, your system might be the daily logging of the foods you eat to increase your awareness. If you want to be more organized, this might be the 15 minutes you commit to cleaning your desk and creating a to-do list before you leave work each evening. The systems you create should ideally be daily (it’s much easier to remember to do something each (work)day than every-other day – trust me on this!)

The systems you create should also feel very do-able. And I don’t mean do-able just in the first burst of enthusiasm, but something that feels absurdly easy. Because, I know from my own experience (and that of coaching many clients), that even absurdly easy can become challenging to maintain after one month.

HAPPINESS: This is the piece of the puzzle that I often see missing in my client’s goal-setting endeavors. In the race to achieve the meaningful goals that you’ve set, you need to be careful that you aren’t pushing too hard, rushing too much and ultimately sacrificing your own happiness along the way.

I know you’ve heard stories of successful dieters who drop significant pounds only to gain it back a bit later; if there’s too much deprivation along the route, your new systems will fall to the wayside once you reach your vision.

The challenge for those of us who are motivated and energized by goals, is to create goals where we can enjoy the journey as well as the results. When I got my puppy two years ago, my goal was to have a well-trained, loving dog. I’m not saying I enjoyed every moment of potty training and night-time wakings, but I did enjoy cuddling my fluffy puppy and even now look forward to our evening walks together to tire her out before bed.

Not every desired goal starts with an adorable puppy, but if all your goals are doing is making you a slave until you achieve your desired results – I can tell you that’s not a goal that leads to a flourishing life. . .

And isn’t that why you are setting goals in the first place?

If you’d like to find ways to be more effective in reaching your goals at work – sign up on my sidebar for a copy of my guide to mastering workplace success skills.

Jo Ilfeld, PhD

An executive leadership coach, Jo helps C-suite leaders, executives, and high-potential managers develop the flexibility, skill, and frame of mind to meet the challenges of the next five, ten, twenty years…. and beyond. She works with individuals, teams and organizations on four core areas of leadership development. Check out Jo's bio page for more information.

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