We are two weeks into our resolutions. How are you doing?
If you are like me, we are two of the over 145,000,000 Americans who make resolutions to lose weight (21.4%), self-improve (12.8%), make better financial decisions (8.5%), quit smoking (7.1%), spend more time with loved ones (6.2%), provide more service (5.2%) and more. However, according to a recent survey by Statistic Brain Research Institute, only 9.2% actually achieve them. More than 59% of Americans refuse to make resolutions or make them very infrequently. Why go through all the trouble of setting a goal you probably won’t achieve and then you will probably feel worse about yourself than if you did nothing? If the statistics of how few Americans achieve their goals are accurate, the majority of Americans have a point.
Why then do so may continue with the practice? Perhaps they have experienced the euphoria and enthusiasm of achieving goals as I have. My personal goal setting successes help me to persist. To help those considering capitulating on the opportunity to make a fresh start each year, I want to share what successful resolution and goal setters did that the rest did not. There are several things we can do to help us succeed in our goals. To simplify, I am going to focus on just two: How we set resolutions and behavioral balance.
One of the reasons we fail to achieve goals is how we set them. If you look at the list of resolutions above, what do you notice? Most are broad statements that are hard to define and achieve. What does self-improvement look like? How much more time will you spend with loved ones? Where will that time come from? How much weight will you lose and by when? How much time will you exercise each week? Many goals tend to focus on massive or extreme change. When life gets busy, we quickly lose track and motivation for goals, which no longer seem attainable. With fatigue, our will to pursue goals and resist going back to old habits is eroded.
The key to success is to use our understanding of brain science to set and achieve goals.
1. Simplify your resolutions:
Set a series of smaller specific goals and focus only a few goals. If you set too many and or intangible goals, the brain rebels. Our brains are easily distracted and do not understand how to achieve a vague goal. I had wanted to lose 25 pounds for many years and not been successful. It wasn’t until I broke that bigger goal down into smaller goals that I had success. Last year I set a a smaller specific goal on January 15th to lose ten pounds by March 15th.
2. Focus on behaviors to achieve goal, not just the goal:
Next, I changed my focus from losing the weight to focusing on actions, which cause me to lose weight. The two things I could control were diet and exercise. Everyday, I would measure the calories I consumed. This was very time consuming, and the discipline kept me focused on the actions I could control, which was calorie consumption. I also measured how many calories I burned on a daily basis.
3. Regularly self-evaluate:
With this simple focus, I reviewed each week how I was doing. Resolutions seem overwhelming because we only do them once a year. I would resolve at the start of each week to stick with my plans. Thought leader Brian Tracy suggests you review your goals every day. Greater frequency is needed for success.
4. Reward success:
After a particularly successful week, I would celebrate. I would give myself permission to eat something I enjoyed. I want to achieve my goals and I want to also enjoy life. This kept my brain engaged and motivated to move forward. After two months, I had lost 12 pounds! I was so excited and motivated to lose the next 10 pounds. However, because of my success and over-confidence, I no longer measured my calorie intake to go along with my exercise. The discipline of measuring my calories everyday was hard and time was limited with all my obligations. The result was that I only lost 2 pounds over the next seven months. Returning to the discipline of measuring calorie intake made the difference.
The second key to achieving goal success is finding behavioral balance. Our behavioral temperament can often conspire against us in achieving our goals. Last week I was conducting a communication workshop with employees of an IT services company. Over 50% of employees had what we call a high patience trait. When I asked members of the class what they thought they could do to improve communication, most of them said that they needed to be more assertive. This is a behavior that is difficult for people with high patience.
You may be asking, “What does this have to do with achieving goals?” When these technicians work with co-workers, clients and others who talk too much, they find it difficult to interrupt and get control of the conversation. High patient people find themselves at the mercy of other people who hijack their precious time and they do not want to be perceived as being rude and cut them off. As a result, they feel powerless to control their schedules. Many people with this behavioral tendency have a really hard time saying no. These individuals may become overwhelmed with helping others and run out of time to achieve their commitments. They end up working longer hours and putting their personal goals on the back burner. If you say yes to everyone else, you may be choosing to say no to your goals.
If you can relate to this personality, you can learn to be assertive without being rude. Set expectations around your communications. If someone interrupts you, let him know you really want to listen. However, if the conversation is going to take more than five minutes, you will need to schedule time to talk. This gives you permission to set expectations without being rude. Learn to say no, and you will be so much happier.
Each personality type has behaviors, which may cause self-sabotage and imbalance. This lack of balance makes it hard to achieve our goals. High dominant personalities may delegate responsibility but hold on to authority because they feel the need to be in control at all times. This causes them to be overwhelmed because they are often unwilling to let others have more authority. Some high conforming personalities get out of balance because of their desire for unattainable perfection. The high extroverts get out of balance when they spend too much time socializing. Also, their desire to be liked may cause them to say yes to too many assignments, which leaves them too little time for their own goals.
These are only a very few of behavior tendencies which have the potential to work against your efforts to achieve your goals. If you recognize any of these behaviors in yourself, here are a few suggestions for you.
1. Identify your behavioral preferences:
There are many great behavioral surveys that will help you identify behaviors which may be causing you to be out of balance. I love the ProScan Personal Development Report. It is highly accurate tool, which provides a tremendous amount of information you can immediately put to use. You will become more aware of your behavioral tendencies, which may be helping or hurting you to achieve your goals. Armed with this knowledge, you can make the necessary adjustments.
2. Identify an accountability partner:
Share your behavioral results and goals with someone you trust and respect. Empower them to let you know when your behavioral tendencies are getting in your way. This will help you make needed adjustments more quickly. A coach is a great accountability partner option. Not only can she help understand how you are getting in your way, she will help you identify how to leverage your behavioral strengths to achieve your goals.
Simply change the way you set goals. Make them simple and tangible for a specific time. Then learn how you may be self-sabotaging. Our behavioral tendencies can cause imbalance, which can inhibit our ability to achieve our goals. Learning how to leverage your behavior and partnering with an accountability partner will help. These suggestions will help you achieve your goals in 2017 and every year.