Look at These Stats! New Year’s Resolutions Are Not Working.

If You Want Behavior Change out of Your Goal Setting read on…

One study by Statistic Brain, which analyzed New Year’s goals, shows that very few people achieve their goals. They claim that just 9% of people achieve their New Year’s goals, with an amazing 91% that end up in failure.

The study also claims:

  • 41% of Americans usually make goals
  • 17% of Americans infrequently make goals
  • 42% of Americans never make goals

Another interesting measure from the study from Statistic Brain was the following about how far they actually got before they fell off the proverbial wagon:

  • 72.6% of people made it through their first week 
  • 68.4% of people made it past two weeks
  • 58.4% of people made it past one month
  • 44.8% of people made it past six months

This means 28% of people didn’t even make it through their first week of New Year’s goals. Does this sound familiar? Out of all these people, only 9.2% actually achieved their goals. If we’re talking about 300 million people in America, and if 58% of them either usually or infrequently make New Year’s resolutions, we’re talking about 174 million people.

If 174 million people in America are setting goals that means that 158 million are up before the year ends. That’s a huge number. If you don’t want to be a statistic, then you should set goals the right way. Goal setting done right will keep you from being among the people who fail miserably at goal setting. Here is the way to set your goals in stone and follow through with them.

I once heard it said that most people spend more time planning their vacation than they do their life. Think about what people do when they plan a vacation.

  • They decide where they want to go.
  • Why they want to go there.
  • What they will have to learn to enjoy the trip.
  • They define the obstacles that might stop them from going.
  • They build a plan of action to overcome each of their obstacles.
  • They decide on a date to go.
  • They check off their to-do list each step of the plan.
  • They commit to go. They talk about going.

If people took these same steps to plan out their life they would join the 9.2% of Americans that actually succeed at accomplishing their goals. Goal setting is the difference between living your life on purpose and living your life on a “whatever will be, will be” basis.

Here are the steps for that will bring behavior change and results from your goal setting efforts.

Step 1. Most people have a Philosophy of Life, but they have never written it down. There is magic that happens when you get your values and beliefs out of your heart and write them on paper. It is like moving your values and beliefs from your subconscious to the conscious mind. It will cause you to do the next right thing with a conscious thought instead of relying on your feelings to tell you what the next right step is. It not only will cause you to look at what you believe but the exercise will cause you to reexamine your beliefs and cause them to be more concrete in your life. Every goal that you write should be compared to your philosophy of life. This is the standard by which you will decide whether to take action on the goal or to trash it.

An example might be that you have a goal to become a professional golfer. There is nothing morally or ethically wrong with wanting to become a pro golfer but if the time required to achieve this goal does not match up with your philosophy of life in the area of family time, then the goal does not fit into your overall life’s goal and should be dropped or modified to fit.

Step 2. You should have more than career or income goals. You should have goals in each area of your life causing you to have a well-rounded life. Consider goals in each area of life: Spiritual, Family, Recreation, Health, Social, Career, Intellectual, and Financial.

Step 3. Create a dream list in each of the areas of life mentioned above. As you make your dream list you do not have to decide if that dream should become a goal yet, so feel free to write down everything that comes to mind.

Step 4. What separates a goal from a dream? A goal is a dream you take action on. A dream is something fun to think about, but you are not ready to take action on it yet. So, take a look at your dream list in each area of your life and choose the dreams you are ready to take action on.

Step 5. Now you are ready to turn your dreams into Actions and start the actual goal setting process.

  • Write out your goal in as few words as possible.
  • Clearly define the emotional pay value for achieving this goal. Sometimes the pay value is money but there is no emotion in money. Translate what you will do with the money that will emotionally motivate you. Here is an example the goal might be to save $7,000 dollars but the emotional reason for saving $7K is taking the kids to Disney World. Now I can get emotional about taking the kids to Disney World.
  • It shouldn’t be this way, but some people are negatively motivated. They will rise to the occasion if they see the pain involved. So, write out the pain you will feel if you do not achieve this goal. Here is an example: The pain I will feel if I do not achieve this goal is the pain of my kids graduating from high school without ever having the memory of a Disney World vacation.
  • Write out the knowledge or skill you must acquire to achieve this goal. In this example of a Disney vacation the knowledge needed is to figure out whether to drive or fly, what hotels, etc.
  • There is a real value in listing the obstacles. It has been said, “Defining the problem is half the solution”. Having a clear picture of the things that will hinder your goal translates into a clear picture of the plan you must build to overcome each obstacle.
  • Build a plan that will address each obstacle listed. If at all possible, make your plan of action a daily plan. We can’t decide to work a plan for a week or a month. But you have the strength to decide to work the plan today.
  • Having a target date gives a sense of urgency to achieving your goal.
  • It has been said, “What gets measured gets done”. Measuring your progress toward your goal is an important step. You should design your measurement method to address each step of your plan. In other words, don’t just measure results, measure your effort. Because your plan is a daily plan make your measurement daily. This type of measurement puts things more in your control. You can’t always control results, but you can always control your effort.
  • Commit to achieving your goal. Commitment means, that you are willing to tell others about what you are trying to accomplish. Commitment means that quitting or giving up is not an option. “Most people don’t fail they just quit too soon.”

If you are going to be a goal setter, if you are going to be a person that consciously chooses the direction of their life, rather than living a life of “Whatever will be, will be,” then it is very important to understand this principle. Success is not achieving a goal; it is the progress toward the goal that counts. The definition of success is. . .

“Success is the progress toward a meaningful and worthwhile goal.”

I know that is a different way of thinking about achieving your goals, but if you don’t get this one principle, goals could cause you a lot of stress instead of success.

Let me illustrate this important principle. A mountain climber loves to climb mountains. He is challenged by the thought of starting at the base of a mountain, climbing up the side, and conquering the top. He considers his plans. How long will it take? What kind of gear will be needed? His careful planning gives him confidence. Now he is ready to embark on the progress toward the destination. As he starts his journey, he looks for the first handhold and his first toehold. He reaches, he pulls, and makes some progress. He repeats the search for the next handhold, then the pull and the progress over and over until he has made measurable progress toward conquering the mountain. Somewhere along the way he looks down to how far he has come, then he looks up to see how far he still has to go. The emotion he feels is, “Wow, look at my progress”, instead of a more negative emotion something like “Look at me I’m a failure because I have not made it to the top.” Because the climber understands success, he feels the commitment to continue the journey and a burning desire to conquer the top of the mountain.  The point that I am trying to make is don’t be burdened with all the things you want to change, all the things you want to do or have in life. Instead look how far you have come. Feel the emotion of success even when you are still on the side of the mountain.

“Enjoy The Journey.”

If you would like a form to help you write your goals, contact Mike at 918-924-5698 or email mike@careerdevelopmentpartners.com

At Career Development Partners we believe “People Are Worth The Investment”

Travis Jones - CEO of Career Development Partners

Written By Mike Duke

Mike is a Certified Personnel Consultant and President of Professional Search for Career Development Partners. Mike is a successful entrepreneur and people developer.

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