It’s January again. It’s that time of year when more than half of us are setting and implementing New Year’s resolutions for 2013.
I’ve set goals for myself. Both personal and professional. And I’m sure you have too.
But despite how motivated you probably feel right now, the stats clearly show that only a tiny minority of New Year goal setters actually succeed.
The rest fail.
So, a very smart question to ask yourself would be:
What do successful goal setters do different that make them succeed?
The reason this question is so smart is, as psychology research shows us, that there is a very big difference between the way successful goal setters think and act, and the way failed goal setters think and act.
Essentially, the research shows that there is a formula used by successful goal setters each time they set a new goal, which gets them success. And it’s a formula you can use to. In fact, even if until now you’ve failed at almost every goal you’ve ever set, you can learn to think and act like a true goal setting maverick and ultimately achieve anything you put your mind to.
There are 8 essential mind-sets that set dreamers and goal setting mavericks apart. As you read through them, think back over your goal setting past, reflect on your new year’s resolutions for 2013 and ask yourself where you’ve been thinking like a dreamer and where you’ve been acting like a goal setting maverick:
1. Dreamers: Set a goal because they think it’s something they “SHOULD” do
Their doctor said they need to lose weight and eat more fruit and vegetables to control blood pressure. They feel obliged to do it.
1. Goal Setting Mavericks: Have a REAL reason to make change and use this to fuel their motivation
They WANT to make change because the positive results they get are a MUST. They simply won’t tolerate the status quo of waking up tired each morning, buying baggy clothes to hide their growing belly, or feeling scattered and demotivated all the time because their body isn’t getting the right fuel to run properly. Instead, they are ready to do almost anything to bounce out of bed each morning feeling fresh and alive, feel focused and motivated, and have enough energy to live a rich and exciting life.
2. Dreamers: Set vague goals that exist only in their head
They think vague things like “In 2013 I want to get fit”, or “in 2013 I want to be more productive” and never commit to what they’re specifically going to do.
2. Goal Setting Mavericks: Set clearly defined, specific written goals
They say “I’ll workout at the office gym 3 times a week for 30 minutes, immediately after work on Monday, Wednesday & Friday nights before dinner”. They write this down on paper and stick it on the wall in their bedroom, on the kitchen fridge, in the office, and even in their car so they can’t possibly forget it.
3. Dreamers: Set too many goals at one time
They say “This year I’ll eat healthy and workout every day”. Week one: They set a diet plan, exercise plan and then get started. They’re on track and feeling great. Week 2: They go out with friends and decide to treat themselves to a pizza, a burger and a kebab for all the hard work they’ve done up to that point. The next day they feel guilty and ashamed. Week 3: Their energy and motivation start to drop. They’re finding it difficult to keep up with all the rules and deprivation. Week 4: They feel exhausted and overwhelmed. They have 2 cheat days in a row. They feel like a failure. Week 5: They decide to give up on their resolutions because life’s too busy at the moment and can’t sustain all the effort. Perhaps they’ll have better luck next year.
3. Goal Setting Mavericks: Set one small habit at a time, and space the habits out over the year
They know that the failure rate is close to 100% when they develop two or more new habits at one time. So they schedule in advance a single new tiny-habit each week, fortnight or month. January’s habit might be to eat healthy snacks. February’s habit might be to work out Monday & Wednesday nights, March’s habit might be to prepare their own lunch for work each night in advance.
4. Dreamers: Don’t clearly know the right steps to take & don’t ask for help
Want to eat healthier and tone up, but don’t know what exactly they should be doing and what will get them results. They try anyway, feel hungry all the time because they don’t know what to eat and then give up after 3 weeks because they’re not seeing results.
4. Goal Setting Mavericks: Hire professional help & do the research required
These people spend time reading books, blogs and articles that help give them the knowledge they need to make effective plans. When they aren’t sure, they don’t hesitate to ask questions or hire expert help to make sure they get the best and quickest results.
5. Dreamers: Keep their goals secret & go-at-it alone
They don’t want to tell their friends and family in case they fail and look foolish.
5. Goal Setting Mavericks: Tell as many people as possible, and ask for help & support
They know that social accountability is a powerful way to keep them focused and fuel their motivation. And if they need a little help or moral support, they’re not afraid to ask their family and friends.
6. Dreamers: Depend on will power
They say “no sweets or snacks”. They hold out for the first few times, but when a real craving hits and they’re low on will-power, they cave and binge.
6. Goal Setting Mavericks: Focus on realistic systems & strategies
They know that will-power is an expendable resource, so they pre-plan their actions in advance. They say “when the snack urge strikes, I’ll slice a crunchy apple and eat a hand full of almonds immediately, and then if I’m still craving, I can have 2 squares of 70% dark chocolate”. And of course they make sure to have some tucked away in their desk draw, or on their fridge for when those cravings strike.
7. Dreamers: Have no way to monitor their success
Plan to eat more fresh fruit, but aren’t clear on how much they now eat, or how to measure their progress.
7. Goal Setting Mavericks: Know where they’re now at, and make a plan to monitor their progress
They spend a day or two monitoring their current fruit eating habit before setting a realistic goal. Then they monitor their new behaviour by recording on a piece of paper or on their phones each piece of fruit they eat for the next few weeks. This way they see their progress which keeps them motivated to keep going.
8. Dreamers: Have an all or nothing attitude
They expect 100% perfection. When they eat that handful of crisps at the party, they throw in the towel and think “well I’ve ruined everything so I might as well just give up”. Afterwards, they feel guilty and worthless.
8. Goal Setting Mavericks: Expect set-backs and when they slip up, they just get back to it
They recognise that there will be times when they fall off the bandwagon. When they eat that handful of crisps at the party, they think “that wasn’t great, but it’s ok. I think I’ll go fill up on the salad and chicken over on the other table, and next time I’ll make sure I eat before I come to these parties!” They learn from their slip-ups and still feel positive afterwards.
Ultimately, successful goal setting comes down to this:
“A goal without an action plan is nothing but a dream.”
Now’s the time to pull out a pad of paper and a pen, go back to your new-year’s resolutions and ask yourself how you can start thinking and acting less like a dreamer and more like a goal setting maverick. Then stop thinking about it and go get started!
- Leave a comment and share your new year’s resolutions below. Be specific, and let’s hold each other accountable!
- Share the love and link to this post on twitter or Facebook so all your dreamer friends can become goal setting mavericks too.