As many of us know from experience, setting a goal is easy.
Sticking with it and actually achieving what we set out to do is harder. Much harder.
Why is this?
It seems straightforward…We come up with a purpose, a reason to make a positive change in some aspect of our life, such as get more sleep, lose more weight, get fitter, spend more time riding a bike, read more books, deliver more presentations at work.
Yet, after a short period of time, we’ve really not attained much of what we’d hoped for and so we stop reaching for what we had set out to do.
Statistically, only 8% of people actually manage to keep the resolution that they set for themselves.
When I set myself goals, I use the same approach that I use when coaching clients. I focus on why I want to achieve my particular goal. In other words, what is the purpose and my deep down reason. Thinking of a time when I felt my best self, I see myself at my best, how it felt, and see myself applying those images and feelings to my new goal, even if it’s something that I’ve never actually done.
Then, and only then, will I commit, as I know how amazing the end result will be when I’ve achieved my goal.
As my own coach, I plan how I’m going to be successful using S.M.A.R.T. goals. I’ll describe briefly how it works for me.
The mnemonic S.M.A.R.T. was made popular by George T. Doran in the November 1981 issue of Management Review and is still used to assist with the process of planning and setting goals:
When thinking about your own resolutions and goals, consider what resources are available to you such as people, skills, and strengths. This will help you in directing your efforts into formulating a strategy to reach your desired personal outcome.
For example, staying with the concept of getting fit, a goal has specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound actions that are particular to the type of achievement to be attained.
An example of this was when I made the decision that I would run in the Falmouth Road Race. Here’s how it went.
Specific: I decided that I would train using the couch-to-10K training program, which consists of an increasing training regime each week, for a period of ten weeks and I added on an additional 2 weeks to the program as the FRR is 7.1 miles/11.4 kilometers.
Measurable: Each week I tracked my progress against the training program by timing myself using a running watch and was able to see if I had been able to reach the set amount of minutes run for the week, or ran within the allocated time.
Attainable: I trained for the race on my own rather than with a friend, (no-one that I know wanted to run it) and purchased the appropriate shorts and t-shirts as the New England seasons quickly progressed from 30-90 degree weather. Comfort was key with my training and helped me complete each segment as I became fitter.
In addition, I chose a set time of day to run. If you’ve never run at 5am, don’t suddenly commit to running at that time! Test it out to see if this works for you. For me, lunchtime and early evening was better, as it was a better fit with my work schedule.
Realistic: Elite runners have average times of 5 minutes per mile. I aimed for a time of 11 minutes per mile, and to finish the race.
Time-bound: I started the twelve-week training program with a couple of weeks to spare (in case of illness, injury, road trips,) and ensured that I knew where and when to meet the designated bus at the local school to take me to Woods Hole to join the other runners on race day.
This year I’ve set myself the goal of running a different race each month from May through October, starting with the Almost Five Miler in Falmouth MA.
Let me know how you get on and let’s increase the number of people who succeed at reaching what they aim for in their personal and professional lives.
Happy New You!
P.S. My official stats at the end of the Falmouth Road Race were 10:22 and 11:27. This year I’m aiming to better the 10:22 time by 22 seconds.
With over 25 years in healthcare and wellness education, Margaret Stockley has developed a results-oriented approach to help small and large organizations implement wellbeing strategies related to employee health, engagement, and productivity. For further information on POWCERT certification or Aspire2 Group workplace wellness programs contact firstname.lastname@example.org