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Why New Year's Resolutions don't make for good goals.

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Why New Year's Resolutions don't make for good goals.

Graham Smith

Planning - you either love it or hate it, but at this time of year many of us are making plans for how next year is going to be sooo very different from this year. Unless, of course, you have had an amazing 2015, when more of the same is probably on your agenda.

You may well have read numerous blogs and articles with lists of hints and tips on achieving your success ( I even considered writing the 12 tricks to make those goals a success), but I'm not actually a fan of decision making for next year's goal setting on or around New Year's Eve, the traditional time for planning how you are going to make certain parts of your life so much better.

So here are some of my reasons why New Year's Resolutions don't make for good goals.

1. On NYE you are much more likely to focus on resolutions relating to what is on your mind at the time. (Giving up drinking and eating usually tops the list, although obviously not to the point of dehydration and starvation).                        

In reality, you are more likely to be successful in goal setting by planning ahead. I signed up to Dry January about three weeks ago and it will be the third year I have done this, so now I am used to the idea that the Toffee Vodka bottle will have to be hidden away until February. Not from me you understand, but those others who try to sneak some out from under my nose. This year the Salted Caramel Vodka needs to be spirited away too! (Did you like what I did there) Thanks again to my lovely daughters for finding that little beauty. It may have been in the basket of goodies that they gave to me and my 'current husband' as a joint present, but that bottle is clearly mine!

2. Even with some planning, the in-between time of the holidays usually means we are not in the zone for starting new habits on the very next Bank Holiday, aside from still having all that cake and chocolate hanging about. I guess that only relates to healthy eating / diet resolutions, but most of us girls are regularly promising ourselves a 'New Me' at this time of the year.

3. The research conducted by Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire in 2007 suggests that around only 12% of us will have kept those resolutions by the end of the year! Interestingly he suggests men are significantly more likely to succeed when engaging in either goal setting (e.g., instead of trying to lose weight in general, aiming to lose a pound each week), or focusing on the rewards associated with achieving their goal (e.g., being more attractive to the opposite sex). 
Women are more successful when they tell their friends and family about their resolution, or are encouraged to be especially resilient and not to give up because they have reverted to the old habits (e.g., if dieting, treating a chocolate binge as a temporary setback rather than as failure).

4. Decent planning time allows you to properly reflect on what you want to achieve in the coming weeks / months/ year and not knee jerk into what seemed a good idea at the time and that probably requires loads of disposable income/ free time/ willpower to succeed.

5. The happy (drunken) fog of New Year resoluting or is it resolutioning (where is Stephen Fry when you need him?) usually results in multiple promises to oneself to start over, but one resolution or goal brings a greater chance of success. Channelling your energy and determination into changing just one aspect of your behaviour makes success far more achievable. Of course, this could be one overarching goal that has smaller sub goals: a healthier lifestyle might mean better diet and more exercise, but working on one aspect at a time will feel far less overwhelming. 

6. Tell the world - according to the research, this is especially effective for women. Not actually the world, but friends and family can offer support and hold you accountable. An accountability buddy is proven to help significantly keep you on the straight and narrow.

7. Have sub-goals, small interim steps that you can reach, achieve and reward yourself for. Celebrate those successes, but within your goal, no sticky cakes as a reward for reaching those NSV's. (Non Scale Victories as suggested by my lovely friend Lindsay in her weight reduction programmes)

8. Keep a record of your plans as well as your progress, I love beautiful notebooks and journals for this, but a goal tracker / workbook specifically designed for this is great. (More of ours later). 

9. Try some visualisation of how your life will be when you achieve your goal - use positive language. "When I achieve my goal..." not "If I achieve my goal..."    

Creating a vision board is fun, motivating and energising, but make sure you keep it as a visual reminder, somewhere you will see it on a regular basis. Not pushed down the back of the sofa.

10. Try to avoid re-hashing previous resolutions which have ended in failure, use different words to express what you want and especially keep away from huge unrealistic challenges like losing 3 stone in 3 months.

11. Accept that you will have setbacks, creating new behaviours takes time (about 90 days is the suggested optimum), but don't use them as an excuse to give up. It happens to all of us, just get back on the horse and carry on. Swiftly followed by a reward for not giving up!

12. If you are a women and live in or near Dorset, why not book onto our 90 day challenge, half-day workshop that takes place on Friday 22nd January 2016 in Bournemouth. For just £25 (£20 Early Bird) you get access to our worksheets, other amazing women who want to take control of their lives in 2016, an accountability partner if you want one and more details about our personal development programmes running later in the year.

  • This gives you three weeks to finish off the food and drink (should that be part of your goal).
  • Enough time to plan achievable business goals for 2016 by looking back over this year's performance.
  • Allows you to not feel rushed into overnight decisions on what you want out of your life in 2016.

I hope you can join us on the 22nd, if not head over to the Successful Women Facebook Page, like us and join in on-line in 2016.

It seems, I ended up with 12 tips for successful goal setting after all - seems you can't keep a good list-maker down!

Happy New Year!