Happy New Year! I know you want to change some things this year. Probably a lot of things. Hopefully you’re concentrating on how and why you’re going to succeed, not fail. And while that’s usually what I like to talk about too, as 2014 arrives I find myself frustrated for you.
Frustrated because every year everyone vows to make these hugely wonderful changes that are going to make the new year the best ever. And yet by February, at the latest, more than 50% of us have lost that list of things we were going to do to become a picture of success in our business, and our life.
Look back for a minute at your 2013. Are you where you wanted to be when you set your vision for the year on January 1, 2013? Probably not. Today is the time to make sure 2014 doesn’t suffer the same fate.
Which means that you’ve got to do something different. Most people vow to work harder so they can reach their goals, but that’s never what it’s about.
If you want different results, you’ve got to stop trying the same old things that haven’t worked. Here are the biggest 5 failure factors I see.
1. Your Goals are Too Big, Too Many, and Too Vague
If you’re setting goals and consistently not reaching them, then you’re doing the goal-setting process wrong. And I’m not going to offer you some new fancy pants system guaranteed to help you finally reach your goals. Such a thing does not exist.
Here’s one thing I know about goal-setting — there are a thousand “best” ways to do it, and you have to figure out which one works best for you.
Too big, too many, and too vague – however – are common problems that will cause even the best goal-setting efforts to fail.
Goals That are Too Big Lead to Failure
I’m a big fan of “Thinking Big.” But if you want to own a jet, and you can’t yet afford a car, you should move the jet from your “goals” list to a “bucket” list, or something similar. You can still own the jet, definitely, just not this year.
Why? Because if the path to get to a goal is too long, you’ll lose your motivation to get there. You’ll suffer burn out, decide you can’t do it, and you’ll give up. Which is sad, because you could have gotten there if you had first set your eyes on a car rather than a jet.
Setting Too Many Goals Leads to Failure
We make too big a deal out of the new year. It is a good time for change, but it’s not a good time to try to do a 180 with your entire life. That’s never going to happen.
Too many goals leaves you overwhelmed, which causes you to revert back to the old habits that are comfortable. You know, those habits that are responsible for making you want to change your entire life now.
Reaching goals is largely a matter of changing habits. Figure out how many you can change at one time. If you are failing, decrease the number of goals you’re working on until you’re down to a number of habits you can actively change. The other goals will be there when you’re ready for them.
Goals That Are Too Vague Lead to Failure
Goals like “financial freedom,” “eat healthier,” and “spend more time with my kids” will never result in you feeling successful. You need to be able to visualize the end result. If you can’t close your eyes and “see, feel, be” the goal, you need to get more specific.
The more exact you can be in specifying what you want, the better chance you have of getting there.
2. You’re Trying to Change What You Do, Without Changing Who You Are
Big goals require big changes. Most people expect they won’t be different, they’ll just do different things. They’ll work harder, focus on different activities, start a new business or club or program.
But here’s the thing. If the people who are around you every day don’t comment on how you’ve changed in some way, your chance of reaching those big goals is slim.
You can’t still go for ice cream once a week with the gang and just not eat the rest of the day to make up for it if your goal is weight loss. You’ve got to be the one who just comes for the friendship, and drinks water while your skinny friends pig out.
You can’t join your breakfast group at Starbucks every morning for a $5 coffee, and just quit eating dinner, if your goal is to pay off your $20,000 credit card debt. Again, bring your water.
Remember, meeting goals is about changing habits, which is about becoming a different person. Is developing a habit where you eat only ice cream one day a week, or never eat dinner, a good idea? Then don’t use such silly solutions as a goal-achievement method.
3. You’re Accountable to No One
This one was really life-changing for me. And if you’re into studies, they show that accountability can make you at least 30% more likely to reach your goals.
So, if your goals are hidden away in a journal or on a piece of paper in the top dresser drawer, it’s time to publish them. Get them out where you can see them. Enlist a partner or group you check in with every week to report your progress. Don’t be forgiving of each other or accept excuses.
Here’s an example of something I’m doing this year. I have a goal to read 100 books. So I’ve announced it to the world, and made a Pinterest board where I’m going to pin each book as I read it. Sure I could randomly pin books so anyone watching would think I’m cool even if I failed, but if that’s the kind of thing you’d be tempted to do, I really can’t help you.
4. You’ve Read 37 Articles on How to be Better in 2014, and Done Nothing
The dreaming and designing stage of goal setting is fun. It’s kind of like the honeymoon. And then reality sets in. Your spouse does things you can’t stand. And the achievement of your goal requires actions you just can’t bring yourself to take. But in both cases, you’ve made the commitment and it’s time to stick to it. (This assumes you’ve determined the good outweighs the bad!)
It’s time to stop planning – today, this moment, now (as soon as you finish this one last article!) – and start doing. You’ve motivated yourself into action. Now, take massive, inspired action.
There’s always another book to read, another goal to write down, another plan to refine even further. It’s time to be done with that.
Can you write down 5 things you’ve actually done that truly moved you closer to your goal?
5. You Think Happiness Lies at the End of Your Goal
Fact is, the happier you are, the happier you’ll become. So, if you’re waiting to get happy once you reach that goal you’ve made, you’re doing it backwards.
I don’t know why this works. But it does. The happier you get about the journey of traveling the path to your goal, the quicker you’ll reach that goal. In the end, you’ll often find that the path to get there was more satisfying than the achievement of the goal itself.
Stop thinking, “I’ll be happy when I get my first client,” and start thinking, “I’m so happy to be in the process of building the business of my dreams.”
Now it’s time to do a little course correction. If you’re suffering from any of these failure factors, shed them immediately.
To get you started down the right path, here’s a short video I made that has helped me become better with every year. Let me know what your words are!