Every New Year starts with well-intentioned resolutions to change behaviors and achieve personal goals. However, it is estimated that only 8% of people actually follow-through with their New Year’s resolutions. Setting and achieving goals, whether part of a New Year’s resolution or not, is a skill which can be learned with practice and a little resilience. In order to have any realistic chance of achieving any personal goal, you have to clearly identify what it is that you want, make a plan to achieve it and then work on that plan every single day.
Begin with a Written List
First, imagine that you have all the time, money, skills, education, and experience that you need to accomplish any goal you can set for yourself. Dream big! Write down whatever goals come to mind in 30 seconds. Your goals must be in writing. They must be clear, specific, detailed, measurable, and written in the past tense as if they have already been achieved. Only 3% of adults have written goals and we call these people “successful”. Those who do not put their list in writing do not have goals, they have wishes. The simple act of writing down your goals cements them in your subconscious mind. Without conscious awareness, you then begin taking small incremental steps towards achieving your goals. Next, review your list and identify the one goal which if achieved would have the biggest impact on all your other goals. This one goal is where you start.
The strategy of putting your goals to paper is a must do within any context including those related to health and fitness goals. For example, I have a goal related to improving my back squat performance. My goal is as follows, “I have improved my 1-repetition maximum back squat to twice my bodyweight by the end of 2018.” This goal is written on paper and visible on my mobile phone every time I access it. The goal is clearly visible in my mind and not a day goes by where I will not be reminded of it. Life’s challenges can never derail me from working on this goal. What is your most important health or fitness goal for the New Year? Write it down.
Develop Your Plan
Planning starts with writing down a list of every single step that you can think of that you will have to follow to ultimately achieve your goal. When you write out a list of all the things you will need to do to achieve your goal, you begin to see that your goal is far more attainable than you originally thought. Next, organize your list by arranging the steps that you have identified by priority. Identify the most important steps and begin working on them first. The 80/20 Rule says that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your activities. What are your 20% of activities which will make the biggest impact on achieving your goal?
Returning to my goal of improving the back squat, there are endless steps I could pursue to achieve this goal. However, through several hours of deliberation and re-writing of my goals and priorities, I have arrived at the 3 biggest activities which will lead to goal achievement. I will prioritize squat technique practice, gluteus maximus strength, and thoracic spine mobility. Now, I have a clear goal, list of steps needed to achieve my goal, and clear priorities to focus on. What is your plan to achieve your biggest goal for the New Year?
Work on Your Plan Every Day
Your plan to achieving your goal and working on your priorities needs to be broken down into actionable steps. Start by planning each day, week, and month in advance. Plan each month at the beginning of the month. Plan each week the weekend before. And most importantly, plan each day the evening before. Write down these actionable steps and then tackle the most important ones at the start of each day. Don’t put off the most important steps to the end of the day, week, or month. Procrastination only leads to frustration anda sense of loss of control over your goal.
Every morning I ask myself, “If I could only do one thing all day long, which one activity would contribute the most value to my goals?” Returning to the squat, this might include performing a series of thoracic mobility exercise first thing in the morning before the rest of the world is coming at me full speed. Your ability to select your most important task and then to work on it with purpose, without distraction, at the start of your day will build momentum towards achieving your ultimate goal. What is the most important action you can take at the start of your day to get you closer towards your goal?
Final Thoughts on Goals
Decide exactly what you want, write it down, make a plan, and work on it every single day. If you commit to these strategies and develop positive habits, you will accomplish more in the next few weeks than many people accomplish in a year. Join the 8% of people who actually turn dreams into goals and goals into reality. Get started today and don’t look back.