Many of us take the time at the end of one year and beginning of the next to reflect on where we are, where we wanted to be, and where we see ourselves at this time next year. The end of the year usually serves as an inescapable reminder that another year has passed and we notice the differences of where we are and where we wanted to be by now. Then we make that special internal promise to ourselves “this year I will….” and many times that year, we don’t…
As with many resolutions, life shifts, personal promises/changes, the beginning seems very promising. You know you can do this; you have this! And then somehow it’s already next year… not only can you barely remember making that promise in the first place, but the months in between are just a down hill blur of reasons why it didn’t work with barely any trace left of your original motivation. So you’re stuck there wondering why you aren’t where you want to be by now.
Many say resolutions barely last a month and you can definitely see this in that crowd that shows up to the gym every January knowing this time would be different, only to show up again…next January.
Here’s the thing. One of the biggest reasons why our resolutions fail, why our goals aren’t met, and why change does not stick, boggles down to one word…. S-U-P-P-O-R-T.
Support…that’s just it. It is one of the single most important aspects of our lives that we need in order to accomplish anything. From every angle..you need support.
Ask yourself three main questions when setting goals:
1. Are your goals supporting YOU?
The first and most important question when promising to make any change in your life is… Does your goal actually support you? Do you see this goal leading to the place and person you want to be? Is it in sync with who you are inside and out? Or is it based on what you think you need or what others say you do?
There’s no point of a goal that doesn’t come from you. Many times, goals are based on outside perspectives and reactions. Whether it’s influenced by the comments of others on your weight or watching someone else make more money than you, these aren’t necessarily based on what you need for yourself right now. If they aren’t deeply meaningful to you or in sync with your true vision for yourself, how can they continuously energize you or keep you passionate and motivated? If they’re based off of negative reflections and feelings, you’ll be working on the fuel of negativity, which burns out pretty quickly and will have you putting yourself down for not reaching a goal that wasn’t for you to begin with.
Is it a goal you need right now or is it working against you by overwhelming you?
You don’t have to accomplish all your goals at once, that’s why we have 5 year, 10 year, lifetime goals. Sure, it’s nice to get some balls rolling, and yes, absolutely write it down! But make sure you aren’t overwhelming yourself. In a goal setting/accountability group I run we have this thing we call a Grail of Giant Goals which lists every goals we want to accomplish in life, so that we get them on paper and return to them when we are ready to take them on, when it makes sense, and fits into our life plans. We begin to prioritize this big list and then we set specific goals to follow for this year so we can be focused on making real changes that we need now without overwhelming ourselves.
2. Are you supporting yourself on the inside?
Are you sitting in your own corner of the boxing ring cheering yourself on?
If you aren’t your first fan, who will follow? You have to root for yourself first. This means remembering and understanding you are human, obstacles come, failure happens and is part of the process, but most of all, continuously telling yourself to GET BACK IN THERE after every fall! Of course there are some times where we can’t seem to do that for ourselves but part of rooting for ourselves is getting support systems in place that will pick us up when we can’t do it for ourselves.
Are you being too vague or maybe too specific with your goals, focusing too much on the big picture or being too strict with the little details? Are you being reasonable and realistic with yourself and your plans?
Either end of the spectrum of being too specific or vague can work against you. If you are too vague you might loose sight of where to begin, how to get there, and expect instant results from something that is a process, having you feel like you let yourself down. If you are too specific you risk getting down on yourself for not strictly adhering to your plan. Just because you plan to go to the gym 4 times a week, doesn’t mean you literally have to in order to see the results you want. Maybe you took a long walk or maybe you’re sick so your body needs the rest. It’s ok. Those dreams you’re working towards won’t restart just because you paused or changed plans.
You need to set yourself up to keep going. Life is organic; everything is constantly changing but still going forward. Learn when to be specific and strict and when to be flexible.
Are you creating plans to achieve your goals or are you just stating them and throwing them into the world in hopes of change? Do your plans include ‘bite sized’ actions or are you setting yourself up for the disappointment of not seeing instant results?
Remember, we cannot finish a meal in one bite, it takes several small bites to get to the end of a meal (and then to dessert, my favorite!). The same goes for your goals. We all want to focus and get to the big picture ASAP so we’re tempted to run or take large leaps. And when we take those little steps we feel like we haven’t accomplished anything. But when you look back on all those little steps and celebrate them along the way, they add up to something huge!
Along the same lines of the food metaphor, don’t bite off more than you can chew, you’re just going to put yourself at risk of choking and putting your plans on hold (or giving up entirely, because they almost killed you!). Be sure to be realistic and reasonable when setting up your plans. Remember, you are human, obstacles will arise, failure will happen and there are only so many hours in the day, but you can still make it through if you are reasonable and realistic when setting your goals.
Are you only relying on willpower, motivation, and adrenaline alone? Are you planning for obstacles and…the dreaded F word (failure)?
Those good feelings usually last through the beginning stages. But as things change and go wrong they begin to fall as we get tempted to give up (or even see it as a sign to do so). Or some days we just wake up drained of these inner pushes and we really don’t want to do it. Our motivation and adrenaline levels are at a low and even our core reasoning is a blur. You have to be prepared and set up to move through that. Whether it be a self reminder of your big why (and motivator) or it can be a person you have placed in your life to help push you forward when you’re down. Whatever it is, you’ve got to be ready to push forward when it gets tough, when you lose the will power, or when you start to fail.
Which brings us to the last question…
3. Are you setting up outside support systems?
Are you surrounding yourself with the right people or are you hanging out with people who are unsupportive, uninspiring, and/or unmotivated themselves?
Look at the people who surround you on a daily basis, are they supportive, do they support the motivation that keeps you moving forward or do they work against you? Remember, it is said that we are the average of our friends, bring your average where you need it to be in order to be successful.
Are you setting up a system of support for yourself? Do you have partners on your side, ones that can serve as resources, are there for accountability, or stick you with an injection of inspiration and motivation when you need it?
When we have trouble taking our long walks to keep us on track for a weight goal, we set ourselves up for success by bringing some kind of support, whether it be a physical friend to motivate us and keep us accountable, a musical artist beating through our headphones to get us pumped, or an audio book coming to life through our ears to distract us from the parts we don’t enjoy as much, and/or a reward system. We need the same thing in our business.
We need people in our lives to create a supporting network. These people don’t even have to be right next to you, they can be over the phone, on the computer, a supportive team, a mastermind, accountability partners, and/or a mentor. We can even use other supporters like our own motivational triggers, goal reminders, daily visions of our end goal.
Thank about what you have in place to make sure that you stay on track and that if you do fall (as we all do from time to time) that you quickly bounce right back. Whatever it is, you must set up a system or systems to keep you going.