Welcome to 2017!
The last couple of weeks I've made jokes about New Year's Resolutions (NYRs), especially about how most people don't do them right and the huge failure rate of the resolutions. Some statistics put it as high as 92%!
Why do so many NYRs fail? Because we aren't doing them right! Think about it. Resolutions often circle around several themes:
1. Eating healthier
2. Exercising more
3. Stopping a "bad habit" (i.e. smoking, drinking, etc.)
4. Starting a new habit.
We are encouraged to write them down and then start working on them. Within weeks they are forgotten or people quit. The first step is often the first problem. With the definition! When we write down our NYRs, they often take the form of:
"I will eat healthier"
"I will exercise more"
"I will quit smoking"
These are almost guaranteed as doomed before you even begun! Would you accept such loosely worded goals from you teams? Or as part of your business goals? Of course not!
The very first problem is definition of the goal. They aren't SMART goals. I wrote an in-depth blog about SMART goals back in 2015, you can find it here. As a quick refresher, SMART goals are:
How do we fix the resolutions above? Here are some examples:
"I will eat 3 salad a week" or (one I am working on) "I will substitute 5 sodas a week with either tea or light lemonade" as sodas are one of my larger vices.
"I will lift weights 3 times a week." or "I will do stretching or yoga for 15 minutes a day."
"I reduce smoking by 1 cigarette a week until I stop smoking."
But defining the goals properly is only the start of the battle. There are two other steps you need to do.
1. What is your why?
Simon Sinek is a fantastic leadership expert, and I would encourage you to watch his material whenever possible. One of his more popular books is Start With Why. I would encourage you to think the same thing with you NYRs. Most people write their resolutions because they feel they have to, but do so quickly without any deep thought. Because of this, there is little motivation to actually stick with the NYRs. Why do you want to stop smoking? Why should you stop drinking soda? Why do you want to work out more? If you can't provide a compelling answer, then it is incredibly likely you won't live up to your resolution.
What is your why? It will be unique to each person. Perhaps you want to look better in a bathing suit? Do you want to live long enough to see your kids graduate from college? Do you want to avoid a walker in your later years? Whatever the reason, you have to find something you care about and relate it back to your NYRs.
Once you've done that, now you need to figure out a way to remind yourself of the Why daily. One of the lessons I've learned was from Bill Walsh the Rainmaker (from PowerTeam International). He coaches people to create Why Videos based on pictures that will motivate you. Then you watch the video every day to get you started.
A service with a free trial to do that is Animoto. Give it a try. In fact I would encourage you to build videos for every goal you have.
2. What is the plan?
Now that you've defined the goal, and you have the motivation, what is the plan? How are you going to accomplish this goal? What steps are you going to implement to ensure you succeed? Remember two things:
That means that most NYRs are only wishes. What is the plan? Some of these will be fairly easy to plan:
"My Weekday lunches will not have a soda, but tea or lemonade." I know this should work for me, as most places I eat at offer tea or lemonade along with sodas.
"I will do yoga for 15 minutes a day before I go to bed" - This is a dedicated time each day. Simple enough plan right?
Others require more forethought. "I will exercise 3 days a week." Which days will you exercise? When? What will you do for exercise? And for that matter, the exercises should have goals as well. To take it a step further, place exercise time on your calendar, and determine your routine in advance. The routines should include the duration, reps, weights, and goals of the routine.
The point is that you need to know how you will accomplish what you want. Otherwise you are just wishing on a star.
Of course, once you have all these things you still have to take action! It's great to have the What, Why, and How; but if those aren't paired with Action, you've only wasted paper (or bits and bytes, depending on how you are writing these). Actions make the difference. So what are you waiting for?
If you want help defining the plan, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll send you a C4 Strategy Planner and a guide on how to use it.