[Don’t miss the cool giveaway at the end!]
The New Year period is now but a distant memory as we’ve approached the quarter mark of the calendar year. So too sadly, are most people’s New Year’s Resolutions.
Consistently, it seems to be something people are willing to attempt to undertake despite knowing fully well the likelihood of success is minimal at best. The question must therefore be asked: Why is it we get excited about resolutions? When you dissect it all, it really comes down to one word: Hope.
Hope is at it’s brightest at the beginning of the year. It’s a time when we can get excited about the future and forget about the past. Whatever our worries, stresses, challenges and setbacks of the previous 12 months, we can now look forward to better times ahead. However, there is always one catch.
We go about it in completely the wrong way. It is oft quoted that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. What resolutions do is have you committed to the thousand mile journey without being able to focus on achieving the first step. However, If people had a greater commitment to goals, I’m convinced they would not only take that first step, but the next one and the next one until before long they would be well on their way to the one thousand mile mark.
Reason 1: A goal is not a habit. A resolution usually is.
Perhaps the single biggest reason (and the only one that needs to be remembered) is that goals do not require you to create a habit. Resolutions do. Good habits are the hardest thing to make and bad habits are the hardest thing to break.
Whilst a resolution is a full frontal assault on trying do something (or not do something) everyday for the foreseeable future, a goal almost gets you there by the back door. It keeps you focused on the little steps. The ones that are essential in progressing you to a destination that has an end date.
This can not be underestimated. Think about it this way: A resolution could be to eat better, quit smoking or do more exercise. It can already be seen that each of these resolutions is about doing something consistently and constantly. This, of course, means it’s a habit. What if instead you broke down each of these into small achievable goals? Therefore, they would require an end date. Habits on the other hand are open ended.Here’s are some example of how they might be converted into smaller goals:
– Avoid junk food at lunchtimes for the next 7 days.
– Reduce my daily consumption of cigarettes from 12 to 5 over the next 2 weeks
– Walk/Run a total of 9 kms in the next 6 days.
Notice how each of these goals is far more achievable simply because they require smaller effort over a short duration. Not only does it become achievable, but it FEELS achievable. Furthermore, you will then feel even better when you do achieve the goal as you will be on track. Remember the single steps of the thousand mile journey?
Of course goals must have tasks, but again you can be creative in how you structure your goal to make it as easy as possible. The avoidance of junk food might have tasks for making a specific lunch for yourself on Monday, enjoying a healthy dine out lunch with a friend on Tuesday and so forth. By now you are starting to get the picture and this leads us to the next point.
Reason 2: A goal has a clear set of instructions. A resolution usually doesn’t.
Goals are like projects. They are self-contained, structured, preferably S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time specific) and with discreet tasks that can be ticked off one. Compare this to a resolution which is really just an open statement that requires an enormous commitment. The two could not be further apart.
The goal clearly should have an end date and be able to be measured. A resolution on the other hand never ends. To carry that burden from the beginning is to set one’s self up for failure.
However, if you create discreet, individual tasks within a goal, you are making a plan for yourself. And as they say, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Sometimes, it pays to even put in a token task. One that is incredibly easy to mark as complete because even the feeling of small progress can sometimes be enough to spur you into action for your next task.
The not so often recognized value of a goal is that by creating the tasks, we truly get an accurate picture of just what it is we are up against. Sometimes it can actually be too much. But better to find out at the outset, then months into a resolution that is weighing you down.By acknowledging the enormity of a goal upfront through the diligent creation and scheduling of tasks we are able to decide there an then whether to: abandon, reduce in scope, ramp it up or maintain as is. This is a great way to avoid delusions of achievement which is what resolutions often epitomize.
Reason 3: A goal expects a lot. A resolution expects the world.
I think by now we’ve established just how enormous resolutions can be. But it’s worth re-emphasizing the point. Furthermore, there are some additional aspects to consider. At what point does one celebrate success of a resolution? Is there ever such a point? After all, a resolution must continue indefinitely.
Therefore, does the opportunity even arise? That’s a pretty tall order.On the contrary, you know full well when a goal has been achieved because it is a S.M.A.R.T. goal and it has a due date and it’s success can be measured. Success breeds success and ticking off your first goal early in the year is a great way to get you focused for the next. Goals needn’t wait for the New Year. They can begin today.
If you are someone who has tried and failed with resolutions in the past, then I have a challenge for you: Set one single goal. Big or small, it doesn’t matter. Break it down into individual tasks. Keep it in perspective and see how you go. Make sure it is a S.M.A.R.T. goal. Then when you’ve finished, see how you feel. Start planning your next goal.Before you know it you will have created the habit of setting and achieving goals without even the mention of the word “resolution”.
Therefore, to help you along we are giving away Five Year Subscriptions to Lifetick, the online goal setting application, valued at $99 each for 10 lucky readers. Simply respond to this blog with the first/next goal you are determined to achieve, big or small, and you will go into the draw.
For those of you who miss out, Lifetick offers free accounts (that cater to up to 4 goals) and plans start from as little as $39 per year for individuals. Wish you all the best whatever your goals may be!
Terms & Conditions
- Closes on April 25th 2013.
- Not open to employees at WorkAwesome.com, ThinkSimpleNow.com or Lifetick.com.
- You may only enter once. Anyone submitting more than once will be disqualified.
- Make sure you enter a valid email address.
- You must be of legal age in the jurisdiction that you reside to enter.
- Response required within 7 days of first notice of a win. If we don’t hear from you, the prize will go to the next deserving entry.
Update: Winners Announced!
Thank you every one for participating and sharing your goals with us. Here are the 10 peeps we’ve chosen as winners.
- Jeremy Otter
- Arun Kumar
- Linett Adell
- Kimberly Hogg
- Yvette J
- Saju K
- Lisa T
You’ll receive an email from us so please respond back asap to claim your freebie!
Image by FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
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My goal is to complete a half marathon in under 1 hour 50 minutes. The race is on May 25th. To achieve the goal, I set a running log that I plan and record all of my runs in.
Hi Jeremy, from one long distance runner to another, I hope you’re in the middle of a 10 week training program to incorporate speedwork and get your muscles ready! Good luck!
Goal: develop a daily list of tasks for the day and complete 70% of them, for the entire work week.
My goal is to host a Meetup event on 27th April in Mumbai, on Productivity Hackers Meetup.
The Goal is to have lost 30lbs by my Vegas vacation July 17th. That’s 10lbs for the next 3 months. Started Day 1 of my training program this am.
My goal is to get back running after rehabilitating my hamstring strain, by 17th April 2013
spend at least 1 hour a day with my daughter.
Great post! My goal is to get to bed by 11PM every night for the following week so that I can get 7-7.5 hours of sleep consistantly.
My goal is to submit my thesis on 1st of November
Inspiring post! Thanks, Shane!
I’m a college student, my goal is read 1 journal paper everyday about my final project and summarize it for this week (15-21 April).
Really great post. My goal is to successfully rock climb 5.10 grade routes to the top by June.
Work Experience on a film set.
Very useful giveaway, thanks! My goal is to get serious about securing funding for my current online writing project.
my goal is io take 1 class each quater until i finish my masters degree. i also want to elimate 2 bags of paper in my life each week so i dont end up on Horders…
My goal is to be a little more happy and in return keep my closed ones happy.
daily walk for 20 mts till may 10th, then increase walk time till 40 mts for the next two months..get into a fitness regime
I completely agree that setting goals rather than having resolutions is a more effective, agile way to enact change and increase productivity. My goal is to submit the book proposal and two sample chapters for my faculty development book to possible publishers by July 15.
I agree. A goal is S.M.A.R.T. because addresses all the questions: What, How, When, Why and How. The resolution is only a piece of S.M.A.R.T.: how?
My goal is to finally clean up all the extraneous “stuff” sitting on my home office desk and drawing table and set up a filing system which will work for my two businesses. And then get back to work on making those businesses successful!
Goal-To sketch for 15 minutes a day, 5-6 days a week. I have allowed my creativity time to be taken over by other, less fulfilling tasks, I need to reclaim it.
My next goal – write for 1 hour per day for 1 week, then increase to 2 hours per day for 2 weeks, then 3 hours per day for 3 weeks. By then, I should have established the writing habit!