Tis the season of grandiose promises for the New Year. Naturally, January is also the pre-cursor to six weeks later when all those goals fizzle away and most of us end up back in our same old habits. Next year you’ll set similar resolutions that will be anything but resolute. Rinse and repeat.
We all want positive change and to capture to our full potential. The problem is, most of us set goals that are vague, vapid, and vulnerable. Then we wonder why they vanish with such striking consistency. There are four big danger traps that trip up those idealistic resolutions for millions each year:
1. Not linked to a greater purpose – Fitting into a pair of jeans just isn’t a powerful enough incentive to motivate you through life’s temptations. Being healthy enough to attend your granddaughter’s wedding 40 years from now is a much stronger and more defensible vision. The more your goals are aligned with your broader life’s purpose, the easier it will be to stay committed in the face of distraction.
2. Lacking specificity – Making more money, getting in shape, and having better relationships are all nice platitudes. Vague ideals sound good at cocktail parties but are impossible to measure and act upon. Improving your income by 10% in 2013 or lowering your cholesterol by 30 points by June 1 are much more detailed goals and will allow you to systematically conquer your targets.
3. No detailed game plan – Once you’ve locked down a goal that is specific and has a deadline, you can’t just ride the ‘white horse of hope’ and expect meaningful results. What are the specific steps you need to take on a daily basis? Starting with the end in mind, you need to build an action plan that has the specificity of asking Google Maps for driving directions. It’s also mission-critical to log your activity and progress on a daily basis.
4. No accountability – Your odds of success leap geometrically when you build in a system of consequences and rewards. For example, if you committed to read an hour each day but decided to watch the game instead, a consequence could be the requirement to donate $100 to a local charity. The more specific penalties and rewards for keeping your commitments, the more they will manifest. Also, make sure to seek help from others to hold you accountable. Build a system you can’t cheat, and you’ll be well on your way to finally achieving this year’s objectives.
If it were easy, everyone would be successful. In 2013, it’s time to take your game to the next level and seize the enormous opportunity that’s waiting for you. Don’t let pitfalls that can be easily conquered hold you back.
Wishing you a safe, healthy, and prosperous 2013!