I do find it interesting that we have to wait for the start of a new year to look at improving our life when we have the ability to start working on these changes at anytime through out the year, but it is what it is so lets’s work with it.
So what can we do to try to make sure that when we do make some new years resolutions, that we actually follow through with them? In this article I share some tips that will provide you with some tools that will essentially boost your chances of achieving your goals to up over 85%.
Write them down – Remember the saying, ‘What gets written down gets done’? Well that certainly has some merit to it, as research tells us that you are 43% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. Why? Well there are a number of reasons that writing down your goals significantly improves your chance of success.*
- Writing helps your brain with recall through what is known as ‘Encoding’. Encoding is what happens in our brain when it has to make the decision to determine if something is important to store in our long-term memory or discard it. So when we write down our goals our brain sees it as something that is important and will assign greater importance to it, as a result, it is more likely to sink in and be remembered.
- Further to this as a result of writing down your goals your brain will spend more time working on ways to make those goals a reality, even when you’re not consciously thinking about them.
- Want to supercharge those written down goals? Then be specific, detailed and draw pictures that link your goal to an outcome! Rather than just writing losing weight as a goal what about writing lose 3kg’s by 28/02/2021. Then detail how you are going to make that happen. The more detailed and planned out the more your brain will see it as being important and more the more ability you will have to recall the information and thus achieve your goals.
So now you have identified your goals, written them down in great detail, set some realistic but challenging time frames and drawn some pictures, don’t stick your list of goals in your bedside draw and forget about them!
No, put them in a highly visible place so you see them as much as possible, then move them around to different visible locations. You see if we leave them in the same place we get what is known as ‘normalization’, this is where our brain gets used to them being there and they blend into the background like everything else. So move them frequently to keep them front of mind which will again increase your chances of achieving them.
‘Motivation is crap. Motivation comes and goes. When you are driven, whatever is in front of you will get destroyed.*’ (David Goggins – Regarded as one of the toughest men on the planet).
To put it simply, being motivated is not enough to achieve your goals. Take it from someone like David Goggins who as mentioned above is regarded as one of the most toughest individuals on the planet. Motivation will come and go but consistent action no matter how small will take you towards your goals, here’s the kicker though. That action has to be taken whether it is raining, hot, cold, you are tired, busy or generally unmotivated. You have to be consistently taking the required actions to effectively move towards achieving your goals otherwise motivation will drop and they will become a mere dream.
At the time of writing this article I am actually most of the way through listening to David’s story ‘You Can’t Hurt Me’ on Audible and let me tell you he didn’t get to where he is today from simply being motivated. He was driven and took action towards his goals even when every cell in his body did not want to and it paid off, not the first time let me add but it eventually did as he managed to toughen his mind into forcing his body to do what it did not want to.
This mantra is further emphasized in Angela Duckworths book ‘Grit – The Power and Passion of Perseverance’, where she identifies why people who test high for talent often fail to achieve their potential, and why people who do not test high for talent often “overachieve” what others expect them to do. The book goes into detail about ‘Grit’ and what having grit is, means, how to get it and how when you have it what you can achieve in life. A quote that stuck with me from this book was ‘Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard’*. So remember even if you are not extremely talented at something by consistently taking action will go much further towards achieving your goals then someone who may be more talented but is not consistently taking action.
Get a Mentor – Mentors are great as they are able to share with you their journey and more importantly their failures and the lessons they learnt from them. Mentors are someone who has walked the journey that you are embarking on and made it through to the end. A mentor needs to be someone that can give you the right amount of time to share their journey, you also need to be able to relate it to what you are embarking on in some way.
An old mentor of mine taught something that I have never forgotten, when we would at special events or dinners with highly successful people in our field and it was question time he would ask a very different question to most at the table. He would ask ‘Tell me about what you tried that did not work and why’. The question was often a bit of a shock to the person and the crowd but he was wanting to know what did not work and why because he wanted to avoid those same failures at at all if possible.
Find an Accountability Buddy – These are people who won’t automatically tell you what you want to hear, they are people who will give you encouragement and support, but most importantly honest feedback when you are not following your goals. Research has found that the chance of achieving our goals rises to above 85% when we share them with an accountability buddy, WOW – YES 85%. Below are some tips with regards to sharing your goals with an accountability buddy.*
- Share process goals, not outcomes or identities. Don’t tell your friends you plan to be a data scientist in four months. Tell them you plan to do 10 hours of studying, coding, and project-building per week.
- Check in frequently with written updates.
- Ask for “process praise” rather than “person praise” or choose a friend who’s going to be naturally inclined to compliment your effort or the strategy you employed in completing a task, rather than complimenting your innate intelligence or talents.
- Ask for positive feedback at first, and negative feedback later on.
- Make your own call on social media, but avoid focusing on competition. Particularly in the early days, you want to be thinking about what you’re doing, not what others are doing.
So there you have it some tips on how to really increase your ability to follow through and achieve those new year goals or action plans.
Remember – Small consistent steps/actions towards your goals will always get you closer to them then just being motivated and thinking about them.
Stuart Rawlins | Healthy Mind Healthy Future
Mental Health & Employment | Educator | Speaker | Coach
Healthy Mind Healthy Future Copyright © 2016 ABN 788 329 212 96
*References: Stephanie Haney (WKYC), Charlie Custer (Dataquest), David Goggins (You Can't Hurt Me), Angela Duckworth (Grit), Brett Greene (The Psychology of Writing Down Goals).