I don’t think you need lots of convincing regarding the fact that New Year’s resolutions are not effective – you know what I am talking about – the wishes/hopes/goals that you set at 12.01 AM when the countdown ends and the New Year starts. You convince your inebriated self that this year is going to be different. You make a firm commitment “This year is going to be different” and you are convinced that change is inevitable.
The New Year starts- and soon that motivation & passion fades away in a couple of weeks. It is the 3rd week of January (it is freezing cold), and you have already forgotten what you wanted to do this year. You sometimes forget why you set those goals in the first place.
So why do New Year’s Resolutions or Yearly Goal-Setting not work?
Here are a few reasons.
1. Too Many Goals
As complex and powerful the human brain is, there are limitations to how many projects you can focus at a given time. Multi-tasking isn’t effective.
Setting too many goals or working on too many projects is counter-productive. We lose clarity & focus and this is one of the many reasons you get burnt-out. We don’t get burnt out because we are working on our goals – we are working on too many projects at the same time. Plus you always have a feeling of inadequacy. You always feel you aren’t getting much done.
So the key is to simplify – figure out 1 or 2 key goals you want to achieve and focus most of your energy & resources on those few goals.
2. Low Sense of Urgency
Let’s say you just lost your job and your bank account is almost empty; How motivated are you to find a new job?
Extremely motivated, right? At this point, you will do whatever it takes to start making money (within reason), I mean you will apply for jobs, call your contacts, network like crazy and will get that job as soon as possible. That sense of urgency prompts us to act and reach our objective.
Unfortunately, when you set many of your goals 12 months outright, you lose that sense of urgency. That fire isn’t there anymore. You are not as motivated to achieve your goals. Let’s say your goal is to lose 20 lbs by end of the year – it is a long way out and you don’t have enough fire under your butt to get you to the gym.
The same applies to your Career. Instead of setting a goal to be promoted within 5 years, try switching that to being promoted to within 6 months. Now how does that change your actions? I am convinced you will change the way you work and focus more on short-term results.
3. Once a Year Event
Most people do goal-setting once a year. They wait for that one auspicious moment (Jan 1st) to improve their lives. That’s pathetic if you ask me.
Do you live in your body every day or just once a year?
Do you get to work every week or once a year?
Do you want to be happy every day or just once a year?
You get the point – if your career, health, finances, relationships are important, why do goal-setting only once. And why set those goals when inebriated?
Successful people write down and review their goals every day. The constant process of reviewing your goals improves your motivation and also provides clarity on what to focus on at any given time.
4. Lack of Measurement
Peter Drucker famously said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it“. Almost every organization today uses some type of measurement principle to see how the company is performing. Everything is tracked – this helps them to make sure they are operating smoothly and maximizing performance & revenue. Most companies today use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool to measure activity and customer engagement. This is the lifeblood of their business and having this data helps them to fix bottlenecks and focus on areas that yield the best results.
Unfortunately, most people do not use the same principle in their personal lives while doing goal-setting. Your goals are important to you, so it is wise to have some type of measurement system to track your actions, progress, and results. Thanks to technology, there are numerous programs and apps to help you track your performance.
Even a simple notebook or an excel spreadsheet could be used to track your activities and performance.
5. Not the Right Goals
Sometimes we want to do something because it is the most popular thing to do (I am guilty of that too). Whenever I watch a GoPro video I want to be an extreme athlete- it is cool.
And we end up setting up many goals that are not in aligned with whom we are as an individual. And thanks to the Internet, we are exposed to more ideas, more places, more things we want to try – and we get overwhelmed. All of a sudden we have so many things on our bucket lists and to-do lists.
I recommend that you stop a take a moment to reflect, review your goal-setting, and ask yourself “Are all these important?”.
If this goal is important, why is this important?
What benefit do I get if I achieve this goal?
How does this align with my long-term career aspirations?
Go through a process of elimination and get rid of all the wants, hopes, wishes, goals that do not serve your long-term vision.
6. Not Enough Reasons
I once met a semi-retired Insurance agent who was at one point the #2 Independent Broker in Canada. As a young professional, I was fascinated & intrigued by his achievement & wanted to know his secret. So I asked him. His reply was “Very simple, I had 6 kids and I had to feed them, that motivated me to figure out what to do to be successful”.
Isn’t something like that a stronger driver than just wanting to pay the rent this month?
Reasons are the fuel behind your goals. The more reasons you have the stronger the pull you have towards those goals. Also, the more pull you have up, the more commitment and discipline you invest behind that goal; the more action you take and the more results you get.
So now, we have reviewed the 6 Reasons you are not achieving your goals, here are my recommendations (to summarize) how to set proper goals and achieve them.
Call to Action
- Less is More – Set a few and Meaningful Goals. They should be important to you.
- Create a sense of urgency – Give yourself leverage and ideas on why you need to achieve them sooner rather than later.
- Repetition – Review them constantly (preferably every day)
- “Why?”– Review the reasons why those goals are important to you. Write out strong reasons why you need to get that done.
- Measure – Track your action, your performance, and results after goal-setting. Get a notebook or an application or software.