If you can’t find a vacant treadmill at the gym over the next few weeks, don’t worry. The crowd will thin out dramatically after the January rush, as many well-meaning folks get busy and lose their resolve to get in shape.
Gym membership is just one of many examples of New Year’s resolutions that fizzle as the year the progresses. Only 45 percent of Americans will make a resolution this New Year, according to the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology. And of that group, only 8 percent will succeed, while 49 percent will have mixed success and 24 percent will never reach their goals.
When you think about it, resolutions are really nothing more than year-end goals, though usually more light-hearted than those we set for our businesses. But the challenges and frustrations of achieving both types of goals are similar.
Are Your Goals Clear?
So, why do we often fail to reach our goals—both personal and professional? One culprit is failure to set SMART goals, meaning those that are:
Specific goals are clear and concise. Saying that you want to “lose 10 pounds” is specific, while “improving employee turnover” is not.
Measurable goals are far more sustainable, because we know exactly what we’re aiming to achieve – and when we have succeeded. As long as you have a scale, you’ll always know how close you are to losing 10 pounds, but you’ll never know whether employee turnover has improved if you don’t measure things like average employment time for each worker.
Having attainable goals is also important. We are usually optimistic (and sometimes desperate) about the need to reach our goals, so we dream big. We shoot for the stars, and in doing so, set ourselves up to fail. Resolving to lose 50 pounds this year or to increase profits by 50 percent may not be attainable goals, and as soon as that becomes clear, you’ll lose momentum or even give up.
Relevant goals are far more motivational and easier to keep – especially when it comes to our businesses. If a goal does not have a good “why” – if it doesn’t mean something to you or if it does not align with the other efforts you’re making to grow your business – it may not be relevant enough to last.
Timely goals establish a sense of urgency and help us avoid getting busy with our day-to-day activities and forgetting about our goals. You want goals around which you can build a timeline and assign deadlines.
Are You Biting Off More Than You Can Chew?
Another reason we often lose steam is that we simply take on too many goals. Being an optimist at heart, I have certainly been guilty of overestimating exactly how much I could accomplish.
As I work with clients to implement the Entrepreneurial Operating System, I recommend a maximum of seven goals but preferably closer to three – since less is always more when it comes to goal setting!
Annual planning and goal setting can be motivating and exciting if done right. So, consider starting the New Year with just a few SMART goals. At first you may feel that you’re not pushing yourself enough, but you’ll soon learn to love the feeling of reaching each of your goals and continuing the momentum into 2014 and beyond.
Happy New Year!
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