New Year’s Resolutions & Goal Setting – Stop! Read This 1st Before You Start
JANUARY 6, 2012 BY KEELAN CUNNINGHAM
Roughly 45-50% of people set New Year’s resolutions. This is phenomenal. Yet, what’s remarkable is that come February, March most New Year’s resolutions are gone by the wayside. In this article we explore some ideas to consider before you start which could help ensure your resolutions are kept and your goals are achieved.
So, why do most New Year’s Resolutions end up by the wayside come February, March? Well, there is a lack of understanding of how goal setting works. The traditional methods used to set goals are often ineffective. Contrary to popular belief I don’t personally think that goal setting should rely on the highly popular, so-called SMART goals technique (Specific-Measurable-Attainable-Time Oriented-Realistic). I think this is a useful small-goal tracking technique but should not be relied on for setting our goals in the first place. Setting goals and tracking goals are two totally different things in my view. Before you set about designing and setting either New Year’s Resolutions or Goals it’s worth considering the following:
- Do You Have a Really BIG Goal?
The reason most people fail to realise their goals is that their goals are boring and uninspiring in the first place. Don’t sweat the small stuff. You need something that’s gonna have you jumping out of bed in the morning with exhilaration. Big goals require you to raise your game. They require you to step up. You’re actually more likely to strive to achieve some big audacious goals than some small boring ones. Indeed, it’s not important that you know how to achieve the BIG goal. The “how” will show up in due course. The added benefit of BIG goals is the journey you are taken on and the personal development required in order to achieve them. Setting small attainable goals is fine but best done as part of an overall BIG goal objective. For example, you’re more likely to keep a short-term goal (e.g. save 10% of your salary) if it’s part of your overall big goal (e.g. become a millionaire in 5 years time).
- Are You Engaging Your Feelings?
If you can attach emotions and feelings to your goals, this will anchor them deep in your being. Feelings are the secret ingredient of successful goal setting. This is somehow overlooked in most goal setting methods. Writing down lists of goals on a piece of paper rarely sparks our emotions. However, describing and connecting with how one would feel (joyful, fulfilled, connected, wealthy, spiritual, proud, at peace, relieved, euphoric, etc) as a result of achieving a goal (i.e. the outcome) allows us to connect with our deeper selves. Some call this deeper part of us divine energy, source energy, spirit, immortality, God, etc. Really what you call it is irrelevant. What’s important is that you connect back up to that “something”. By associating feelings with our goals we connect with our deeper selves and our deepest desires in life rather than merely things to do on a list.
I once heard a guy talking about sales techniques and he asked people in the audience, what it was they were selling. People taught they were selling all kinds of products or services but actually what he said people were selling was actually feelings i.e. how the product or service made the person feel. I see goals we set for ourselves just like products we desire but what we really desire is the outcome, how it makes us feel.
Feelings elevate us from goal setting automatons into human beings driven by spirit/energy and a deeper purpose. The real benefit of adding emotions to our goals is that when we practice feeling the emotional outcome of the goal (before it has even happened) it removes disbelief and doubt from the goal setting equation. In a way it spiritualises the goal and you are drawing out your true self from within.
- Do You Believe Without Doubt?
This is most often the missing ingredient in all goal setting. Napoleon Hill, author ofThink and Grow Rich, will forever be remembered for writing,“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe it will achieve.” The key word here is “believe”. As well as conceiving in your mind’s eye the circumstances and outcomes of your goals and achievement, you must believe you can do it in the first place. It’s not important whether anyone else believes or not, just you. You must be congruent, single-minded. One-directional certainty is required. Belief is the missing ingredient in most goal setting. There can be absolutely no doubt in your mind but that you can achieve the goal.The more you believe, the more life-force you infuse; the faster your desired outcome will come about.
True belief that the outcome will come about is what most people have trouble with.
- Are Your Goals Aligned with Your Values?
In addition to forcing goals upon themselves people sometimes set goals that are not in line with their values. Values tend to reflect your upbringing. However, when setting goals, try to filter out any voices in your head that may be telling you what others (society, the media, peers, parents, your boss or organization etc.) expect of you. Listen to your own inner voice. Decide what is uniquely important to you?
For example, there’s little point making one of your goals as “starting my own business” if deep down inside you don’t see yourself as an entrepreneur/business person. Everyone prioritize their values differently. For some family, friends, relationship are higher on their hierarchy of values whilst for others it could be creativity, personal accomplishment, wealth etc.
Your values dictate your destiny. Ultimately, you will do what’s highest in your values. If your goals and values are aligned and you take action you will succeed. If you are unclear on what your values ACTUALLY are then it could be a very useful exercise to sit down, think about, write down and clarify your values and see if your goals fit with them. Keep in mind your top 5 values currently when you set your goals for the year.
- Is Your Big Goal Unconscious?
Goals are most likely achieved when they are not merely forced, conscious desires. 95% of our day-to-day actions are unconscious and it is said that our personalities, feelings, thoughts, memories, personal values, beliefs, and habits are all stored in the unconscious mind. Therefore, it make sense that if you can more deeply imprint the goal/outcome on your unconscious mind, your resultant conscious behaviours and activities will take you towards your goal despite yourself.
A goal deeply embedded in your unconscious mind becomes a must. There are numerous simple techniques to help you imprint goals onto your unconscious mind. Largely, it involves visualisation (or mental move making as I call it) – experiencing your desired outcome in your mind’s eye and engaging all your senses whilst you are in a deeply relaxed state. One of the key benefits of filling up your senses in mental movie making is that you bypass the possibility of disbelief in the conscious mind and imprint the desired program/outcome on your unconscious mind. You can find out more about this in our other articles and on our website.