One of the problems with New Year’s Resolutions- and there are many- is that they aren’t a good fit for people that actively set and work towards goals already.
A New Year’s Resolution presupposes something about you is flawed or in need of fixing. It puts stock in something arbitrary, suggesting that the moment the calendar turns to 2017, you’ll become a new person that is magically capable of doing things you couldn’t last year.
It’s an outdated approach to creating good things in your life. The truth is, most people set them only because they don’t know of a better way to approach the New Year.
My hope with this article is to give you a better option.
You know a half-hearted commitment to “fixing” yourself isn’t going to make 2017 great for you. If you’ve gone through this cycle in the past and it hasn’t worked, it’s unlikely that it will in 2017.
Instead, here’s a practical set of exercises that you can do right now.
If you’re hoping to pack 2017 with goal achievement, give this a try:
The Ultimate 4-Step System To Achieve Any Goal
Step #1: Begin with the end in mind.
High performers, from CEOs to top-level athletes, understand that to get where you want to go, you must know what the end result looks like. They believe in the power of visualization, because it’s the first step to manifesting their desired outcome. Take a page out of their playbook for your own set of goals as you walk into 2017.
The very first step is to acknowledge what you really want. What are your goals? Take 5 minutes to write down what you hope to accomplish in 2017. Leave space in between each goal that you write down. Be sure to make your goals tangible by adding things like dollar signs, number of pounds, or whatever metric pertains to your goal.
Once you’ve taken the time to do that well, you’re ready to harness the power of visualization. The key is to get hyper-specific and clear on what you want. The more clarity you gain while completing this exercise, the easier (and more effective) the remaining 4 steps will be.
- Commit to seeing, hearing, and feeling your end result. Until you have written down what your end result will see, hear, and feel like, the work is not done. If you want to lose weight, describe what you’ll look like in the mirror. Hear what people in your life will be saying about you or what you’ll be saying to yourself. Feel the specific feelings of accomplishment that come with your success.
Write these descriptions down below your goals. Done correctly, you now have a clear roadmap of human emotions and a stronger, more meaningful target to shoot for. This combination of seeing, hearing, and feeling your end result is a nice psychological trick that will generate more motivation to get you where you’d like to go.
Step #2: Write out your weekly action steps.
After looking over your goals, ask yourself: what needs to happen on a consistent basis for me to reach my end result?
As a general guideline, it’s usually most effective to figure out the actions needed over the course of a week. I’ve learned this when experimenting with both my own goals and my clients as well. One day is not a big enough sample size, and a month leaves too much room for error.
In a week’s time, you give yourself an appropriate amount of time to evaluate your progress and implement that feedback. This is another way of saying that if you totally blow it during week 1, it’s not a huge deal. Learn from it and make week 2 better.
Example: If your goal is to double the revenue of your business, your action steps might look like this:
- 100 cold calls per week
- 20 lead generations or follow up conversations per week
- 5 hours of growth management or growth strategy planning time per week
Let’s be real for a moment. Be realistic with your action steps. If you haven’t gone to the gym once in the past 6 months, you’re only fooling yourself to think 6 days per week for 2 hours of gym time right off the bat is going to work. Start with something that you’ll actually do and add as you go.
Again, one week won’t make or break you. If starting small feels slower than you want it to be, just remember it won’t be that way forever. On the other hand, ten consecutive weeks of clarified action steps, where you’re continuously rampingng up the intensity of your actions, will give you the results you’re looking for.
Be open to experimenting and adjusting with your weekly action steps, but set a general guideline that you feel comfortable walking into 2017 with.
Step #3: Build your daily process.
In my opinion, this is the best part of this exercise. It will probably take you about an hour if you really take it seriously. The ROI on your time will be worth it for the lightbulb moments alone.
If you struggled to reach your goals in 2016, it’s almost factual that your daily process wasn’t aligned to your goals. This part of the exercise will ensure that this doesn’t happen.
Here’s how to do it:
Either draw a weekly grid on a blank sheet of paper, or print out a weekly template containing the seven days of the week. Fill out the sheet with all of the times you are not able to achieve your goals
Valid times you likely can’t work towards goals include things like:
- Family or community commitments
- Time with significant others
Either block them out in your grid or indicate that these times are off-limits.
Note: if you do this part of the exercise and have no time left in your day, you’ll need to get creative. Wake up earlier or go to bed later. Be resourceful and don’t make excuses for yourself to not reach your goals. Identify areas in your schedule where you can trim the fat.
Now, with your list of goals and weekly action steps in front of you, plug in your weekly action steps (divided up into the days and rough amount of time you’ll need to spend on those days) into the remaining open slots on your schedule.
And there you have it, a tangible blueprint for achieving your goals, right in front of you. Sure, your schedule might fluctuate a bit and things won’t always be perfect. That happens to everyone.
You’ve still done something- you’ve proven to yourself that there’s an existing way to achieve your goals.
BONUS: if you want to get really fancy, you can write out 2 blueprints- one for a working weekday and one for a weekend day. This will get you even clearer on how you’ll achieve your goals in 2017.
Step #4: Let the plane take off.
This is the most important step. Don’t wait to implement this valuable resource you just built. Don’t squander the opportunity you’ve just created to finally have the things you say you want.
Achievement begins when you start taking action.. Be willing to accept that on the very first Monday of 2017, you very well might realize that you didn’t account for 4 different things. Maybe you’ll get nothing done that day and realize that your daily process blueprint needs adjustments. You’ll probably feel like you’ve failed, but you haven’t if you don’t give up.
Failure is simply a part of the goal achievement process. It’s meant to be embraced, not to paralyze you from ever starting. The people who win are the ones that most often overcome the adversity they face.
This exercise is a system. It starts with the end in mind and gives you a tangible blueprint to operate from. The moment you put it into action, you are on the path to your goals.
I truly mean it when I say that I hope 2017 is the year you achieve all of your goals. This system is a great way to get started, but ultimately, the outcome is on you. Take action, get deep and meaningful with these steps, and get to work.
The results you’re looking for might not be as far away as you thought!