Click here for Day Two: Determine Your Values
Click here for Day Three: Visualize Your End Point
Click here for Day Four: Chunk Into Goals
Day Five: Stumbling Blocks
Day Six: Public Declaration/Word for the Year (and a wee small contest!)
We’ve all been there – excited, rarin’ to go and totally pumped up about a new goal or commitment that we make. And then a few weeks later, we find ourselves not keeping that commitment and within a few months, we pretend we never made the commitment to start with. I’ve done that. Everyone has done that. It’s human nature to make Big Hairy Audacious Goals and then let them slowly dwindle into nothing as life and time hammer us. I am going to touch upon the Five Surefire Paths to Failure when setting goals and give you tools to overcome each of these stumbling blocks.
1. You made a goal because your sister, husband, brother, mother, teacher, boss thought you should make it. You never truly committed to it.
I fall prey to this stumbling block often. I have a huge advisory board of people, all carefully vetted and chosen to help me along my path in business and life. Over the years, some of those advisers have given me downright bad advice. But, it sounded good at the time so I followed it. But ultimately, their goals weren’t the same as my goals and so I let those goals go.
The way to overcome this stumbling block is by doing exactly what we’ve done for the last three days: Determining our Values, Figuring out our Dream Future and using these tools to Create SMART goals.
2. Your lifestyle is years away from allowing you to reach the goal.
Yes, we all want to find time to work out 60 minutes per day, six days a week and cook healthy home cooked organic low fat veggie-filled meals daily (or is that just me?) but the reality is that very few of us, unless we’re independently wealthy or it’s our job to look good (a la movie stars) have that sort of schedule that allows us infinite amounts of time or resources.
Look at your goals. Do you realistically have the resources (time, money and/or support) to achieve your goal? If you are a Mom, working 2 part time jobs and getting your soap business off the ground, perhaps making a goal to become President of the Neighborhood Association AND the PTA isn’t a wise goal. You are lacking in the ‘time’ resource part of the equation. But, what you could make a small, reasonable (yes, realistic!) goal around is becoming more involved by attending one Neighborhood Meeting per month and going to one PTA meeting per month.
3. The goal is so big, so hairy and so audacious that there is no chance of meeting it.
In business school (well, at least the one I went to!), they taught us to dream big and make HUGE goals that were so big that they inspired everyone around us to help us reach those crazy, insane goals! I went along with this and have some insane goals from that time period of my life. And that’s okay. But for yearly goals, we want those goals to actually be achievable in a year. Take a look at your life (see step 2) and get real (see Day 1 of our Planning Your Best Year Ever series). There is absolutely no shame in downgrading or simplifying your goals. My goals for next quarter are laughably simple because my life is changing so radically with the addition of our baby boy into our family. But, laughably simple or not, they are still goals that get me along the pathway to my ultimate dream family and business life.
4. You always break promises to yourself. Why will this one be any different?
This is a toughie. Ultimately, lack of willpower is a character and practice issue. When you lie to yourself, it’s easy to lie to others. When you break promises to yourself, it’s easy to break promises to others. You are the most important person to always keep your promises to. Willpower and keeping promises to yourself is a daily practice. It is not easy. It is not a born, innate skill. It is a learned skill. It is something that is often a 2 steps forward, 1 step back type of practice. But every single 2 steps, 1 step gets us more along the path of ultimate success with willpower.
Wondering how to strength your willpower muscle? I wrote an article about it here. Additionally, there are tools you can use – simple things like setting Outlook calender reminders for your goals, buying Apps for your Smart Phone to put your goals into or gathering up a team of helpers (your kids!) to help keep you on the straight and narrow.
You are important. You are too important to continue breaking promises to yourself. Deliberately use 2011 to strengthen your willpower so that you can bust through any mental barrier set in front of you as you move through your goal list for 2011 successfully.
5. You don’t have a written plan in place with a support network.
This is my number one dynamic duo success tip. It did not originate with me. Many wiser people (including Jesus in the Bible) found that there is dramatic power in groups. I’ve written about this concept of Accountability Groups before (here, here and here). It is such a valuable success tool that this post would be remiss in not pointing it out, again. The concept of an accountability group is simple. Choose 2 people (not 1, it’s too easy to let things slide when it’s only one person you’re disappointing) and commit your goals TO PAPER and share them with one another. Make up your weekly and monthly plan and have it, on paper, to share with your accountability group. Check in with one another and give yourselves consequences and prizes.
Over the years, I’ve had a variety of differently structured accountability groups. My current one is comprised of three businesspeople (two guys and me) and we use DropBox to upload our goals and our progress for those goals to every other week. We speak on the phone every other week about our goals and meet in person 1 time per month to talk about our goals.
We have PAINFUL consequences for not meeting our goals. My consequences range from buying each smoking member on our staff cigarettes for the week to donating $250 to a charity I abhor. We also have celebrations and rewards for meeting our goals (as if the reward of meeting the goal wasn’t enough). Mine all revolve around cupcakes (no surprise).
Additionally, the important people in my life know about my goal and verbally give me cheering on to help me make the goals. In some cases (like date night with my husband weekly), they’re part of the goal! It’s important the people you are close with understand your goal so they can help support you in it. For example, if your spouse knows that your goal is to make yoga at 4:30 p.m. on Mondays every week, they will be less likely to expect dinner on the table by 6 p.m. on Mondays.
These are the major stumbling blocks I’ve experienced in my life as I’ve made goals, broken goals and succeeded in goals. If you have any stumbling blocks and great solutions, please share and post them here. I love group learning and I know there are more solutions out there than just the five I’ve listed.
Tomorrow is the big wrap up and a fun contest to kick off the New Year right! As for tonight, celebrate responsibly … =)
I have a HUGE white board in front of my desk with my quarterly goals on them. That helps me not forget them. And I’m using ‘The Habit Factor’ App on my iPhone to help me track and yes, reminders are really good. I also write down my top three goals/affirmations (I’ll often write out my goals as if I’ve already achieved them) and post them in my bathroom, on my mirror, on a 3×5 card in hot pink ink. It’s hard to miss that. But ultimately, it takes a good hour or two to get all those systems in place so maybe carve out that time this week to put all your visual cues and reminders around you? This definitely can be your year! =)
Heather Walls says
My problem is excuses and then breaking the promises I made. I also need a better support network. I’m afraid of not making my goal and then they’ll be disappointed in me. It is always easier to disappoint myself then to have someone else know I failed. The painful consequences is a good idea; I’ve done a reward system, but that isn’t always enough motivation. So I guess I’m going to have to share my goals with people that will actually be hard on me and not let me slide.
Also, I looked into Dropbox and I really like it. It’ll be a huge help when I work on something at home and want to access it at work. Thanks!
One of my stumbling blocks is my forgetfulness. I forget to write down the small steps I want/need to take to achieve my goals, and then, of course, I forget to do the steps because I forgot to write them down. I like to set alerts on my iPhone to remind me to do things (like these steps)…but that only works when I remember to key them in to begin with. :} It’s a vicious circle. Sometimes dh or my sister will remind me, which helps.
Allison B. Kontur says
Great article Anne-Marie! I especially like the part about painful consequences for failing to meet your goals. I don’t think I could do the cigarette buying, but it makes a powerful statement!
Happy New Years to you and yours, looking forward to “seeing” you in 2011!