Last night just after midnight, like many others around the world, we began talking about what we were resolved to do differently in 2015. Let’s face it. It makes us feel better to acknowledge our short comings and say we are going to do something about them. But according to a University of Scranton poll, only 8% of people ultimately keep their New Year’s resolutions. In general, people are just not good at the follow through required to maintain their resolutions for the long haul.
Not only am I going to share some tips on being more successful with your resolutions, but I’m giving you a bonus today. It’s a ‘two for.’ The tips for achieving your New Year’s resolution are the same tips for successfully executing your 2015 personal or business strategic plan. BONUS!
- Keep your goals simple. You don’t have to have sophisticated language to have a good goal. Do you know what you are trying to do? Then it’s good enough. A simple test is whether you can answer the following questions: “If you are successful, what will it look like? What will be different? What will you have you didn’t have before? What will you do that you didn’t do before?” If you can answer them, you have enough to get started.
- Be public. A lot of people try to keep their resolution quiet, so if they aren’t successful, they won’t be embarrassed. This works against you. Be brave. You are a strong individual whether you know it or not. When you tell someone about your plan, you increase your accountability for doing it. Risk a little embarrassment if it will help provide the motivation you need to do the work and stay your path.
- Focus on the positive. Simply put: We are much more likely to do things that have positive connotations in our minds. Rather than focus on losing weight, focus on becoming healthier. Losing weight might just be one indicator of your success.
- Identify smaller goals or milestones along the way. People who don’t set smaller goals within their overall goal are less likely to persist in achieving the larger goal. Face it. We need short term wins. They help us get excited about the next phase of the goal. Often, we’re great at the first month of our resolution or plan execution. In fact, 71% of those who set resolutions are still going strong one month in. By three months, that number dips below 50%.
- Identify people who will help support you and hold you accountable. I think this is one of the most important ingredients for your success. Once we set the goal and are clear about what it looks like if we are successful, we need equal parts of support and accountability to persist to success. Sure, we like it when our friends compliment us on our efforts. We all like the cheerleaders in our lives. However, we also need people who ask us about the times in which we fall short. Simple questions like these can help ensure you keep on keeping on: “What happened that caused you not to hit the target? What do you plan to do to overcome that hurdle the next time you face it? What support do you need to be successful the next time?
- Put a plan together. You don’t have to write a 50 page plan on how you plan to learn french or how you plan to double the size of your company. You should have something that outlines the actions you plan to take to accomplish each goal you set, the date by which you will accomplish each action, and the evidence you can look at to know each is complete. You’ve heard it before, but “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” So do it already.
- Decide what you are going to measure. You don’t have to go crazy here. I tell all of my clients “what gets measured, gets done.” As I said before, if you are trying to get healthier, you may look at the numbers on the scale as ONE measure of your progress. I say one, because rarely is using one measure a good idea. Multiple measures are always more meaningful as they can cross validate. If you want to improve relationships with customers, you might look at impressions via social media and see what clients are saying about you and how they interact with you online. You could also conduct a survey of your customers and ask about your service, rapport, etc.
There you have it – a few tips to help you get started in 2015. If you need public accountability, start by telling me in the comments below what you are attempting to achieve – personally or professionally – in 2015. Perhaps we can help each other out. What other tips do you have for improving your chances of success with your 2015 resolutions?