Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Time to Stop Making New Year's Resolutions

Maybe I’m wrong. Okay, that’s not easy for me to admit. But for years I’ve been badgering people to create specific, short term goals to carry them to success especially at the New Year. Why? Because that’s what I do; that’s what works for me. Reading the research I’ve helped individuals create goals have been driven from what they wanted (intrinsic) and not what others wanted for them (extrinsic). I’ve helped them create benchmarks along the way to celebrate success and see that they are achieving their goals. And yes, some of them achieve their goals… only about 10 percent.

Over the past two weeks before and since the New Year, I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read about goal setting and the optimal way to succeed and achieve your goals. But my experience has been that by March most people can’t even remember the New Year’s goals they set, let alone achieved them. So, I researched how many people actually achieve the goals they write down. In all of the studies I read, it runs between 8 and 12 percent. Even on the high side that leaves a supposed 88 percent who aren’t achieving their goals. That’s when I thought, perhaps I’m wrong.

For those of us who love lists and goals to cross off, the concept of a New Year’s Resolution is perfect. We make our lists, and create attainable goals and cross them off as we achieve them. However, we are only a small percentage of the population. Yet with 88 percent of the population not achieving their New Year’s goals the world does not come to a stand-still. People go to work, are productive, get raises, raise children, buy houses and achieve things. What are they doing if they are not writing lists? That is the key to understanding success.

I’m discovering that some people, to achieve a goal, have to take the time and identify what they love about something they want to achieve. When they do so, they find that the achievement almost takes care of itself; they love working toward success. Still some people succeed when they have others joining them in the achievement, even just to cheer them on. They like accountability to others and want to talk about where they are on their journey and what the challenges and success are. Still others are happy to move in a general direction, i.e., moving up the corporate ladder or raising a family, and are very adept at dealing with the next stage of their overarching goal. Everyone is different in how they approach achievement and there is no magic on New Year’s Day that makes resolutions automatically come true.

The most important question is how do you succeed? Think of a time when you wanted to achieve something and you did. What did you do? How did you motivate yourself? What did you do to get through the difficult times? Because I’m convinced that success for many people is not just about creating goals, but identifying how you personally have achieved success in the past and applying the same personal process in the future.

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