What do you think about new year’s resolutions?
For years it felt kind of like I was throwing darts at a moving target. My hopes and aspirations either didn’t stick or I was stuck trying to move to the next step. Have you ever felt that way?
Why do we set goals, anyway? Is it just because it’s the thing to do, or are we looking to make changes and become better?
Our goals are too important just to let them slide, but for a goal to stick it needs to be more than an item to check off a to-do list. Gaining traction to make progress is simpler than you think. There are proven strategies to help get you unstuck with your goals and moving towards becoming the person you want to be.
My husband often refers to the small hinge effect. If you think of the movement you see within a hinge, it doesn’t seem to amount to very much. But if you look at the end of the door and the total motion a small hinge can make there is a big difference. Goal setting is about finding the right hinge so you can make significant changes.
Getting Unstuck with Your Goals
S.M.A.R.T goals are often discussed when it comes to getting unstuck with your goals. They are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. My favorite resource for achieving S.M.A.R.T goals is The Freedom Journal by John Lee Dumas. It contains a step by step process to reach a smart goal. Packed with inspirational quotes, the Freedom Journal is the resource to guide you in mastering your productivity, focus, and discipline in 100 days.
S.M.A.R.T. is a great way to begin looking at a goal, but I want to offer you a little bit more. These additional five strategies can help to take you from setting your goals to reaching them.
1 | Get specific
Nothing new here, right? The best way to make real and lasting change is to get specific. What do you want? Why? Define it, digging deep to find the specific things you genuinely want to accomplish. Vague aspirations don’t get us where we want to go.
Specificity matters because it makes our aspirations actionable.” – Michael Hyatt
Consider the six life dimensions to keep you from getting tunnel vision. Goals need to address each of the different aspects of our life.
The six specific dimensions are:
Spiritual • Physical • Emotional • Relational • Mental • Financial
Like the spokes of a wheel, each part is different but works together in your life. If one spoke is too big then the wheel becomes harder to move. When our spokes are similar in size our life is more balanced, helping us get to where we want to go – or become who we want to be.
Start by writing a list of 7-10 goals you would like to pursue in the coming year. The most important part of getting specific is writing it down. You are more likely to achieve a written goal. Most people don’t keep a written list, but research shows you are 42% more likely to achieve written goals. Writing is the first step in translating our intentions into actions.
Spread them out over the six dimensions. Overwhelm is what kills our goals and leads to procrastination. Too many will divide our focus and sets us up for failure.
At this point, I try to figure out my One Word for the year. It is a word that reflects the positive change I want to accomplish across the six dimensions. I put my word in a highly visible spot, one I will often see to remind and motivate me to keep working on what I want to change.
I created a printable to stick in my planner and Little Brown Book to keep my word and goals visible throughout the year.
2 | Concentrate Your Efforts
If you’re like me, there is always a whole lot of things I can be working on, but productivity studies show you can’t accomplish more than 7-10 goals at a time. It simply sabotages our success. Choosing one word concentrates my focus for the year.
Once I’m clear on my 7-10 goals, and my one word, I get clear on which 2-3 goals I will focus on during each quarter during the year. It’s like taking little bite-size pieces instead of trying to down the whole thing at once.
The best recipe for success is to focus on one task at a time. It’s tempting to get motivated and try to change everything at once. I get it. It’s just not the most effective strategy. Instead, focus on one change at a time. Follow it from new behavior to well-established habits before moving to the next change. Your efforts will strengthen your motivation to move on to the next goal.
3 | Aim for Your Discomfort Zone
According to a study conducted in January of 2017, about 41% of Americans usually make New Years Resolutions, yet only 9.2% felt they were successful in achieving their resolutions. It could be the reason why about 42% of Americans never make New Years Resolutions.
The study shows 72.6% of resolutions were maintained through the first week, 68.4% past two weeks, and only 58.4% past one month.
So why is it that so few American’s are making resolutions, and even fewer of those are seeing success?
We don’t like to feel uncomfortable.
The truth is, our discomfort zone is where the real growth happens. If you want to experience something different, you have to DO something different.
If your dreams are inside your comfort zone, they’re not really dreams.” – Michael Hyatt
According to Michael Hyatt, there are three zones. The comfort zone, the discomfort zone, and the delusional zone. The key is to push just outside of our comfort zone and be uncomfortable but not push it so far that we move into the delusional zone. The delusional zone feels like either abject fear and terror or total euphoria. This zone pushes us so hard it deters us from reaching our goals.
There are three basic emotions you’ll feel when you’re in the discomfort zone: fear, uncertainty, and doubt. The key is to reframe those emotions in our mind. Take them as a positive indicator that we are on the right track.
4 | Track Your Progress
Change often comes in small increments, and it can be hard to see progress. One of the most lethal mistakes people make with goal-setting is failing to keep their goals visible. The whole idea of “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” rings true.
Track it in a journal, put them on your screen saver, read them out loud every day, create a vision board — find a process that makes sense to you. Be sure to revisit your goals often and see how far you’ve progressed. I have a weekly reminder on my calendar to make sure I’m visiting and revisiting my goals regularly.
I use my habit tracker to create small milestones to work towards by identifying daily and weekly habits that will keep me moving towards my goals. By checking off these milestones I know I’m on track towards reaching my goals. A good rule of thumb is 30 days of consistent effort creates a new habit.
5 | Find Support
Many of us try to achieve big, sweeping goals on our own and find ourselves discouraged and overwhelmed. A new goal represents uncharted territory. It can be scary to step out of our comfort zone to accomplish something we don’t know a lot about or are unsure how to make it happen.
Support can come in different forms. It can be an accountability partner or a support group of like-minded people working towards the same goal. Either way, be sure to surround yourself with people who have a vested interest in your success.
I attended a 12-week seminar to help build my business. During the twelve weeks, I had an accountability partner to report to as we each reached our small milestones. I was amazed at how much more focused and motivated I was to meet the commitments I had made to my partner.
Having support opens a new reservoir of information, perspective, motivation, feedback, and expertise. When we are open to getting that kind of help, we are also opening our self to a new level of success.
One important note to mention — while it is important to share your goals it doesn’t mean to tell everyone about them. A few select individuals who can offer you support is great, but if we start telling everyone what we are working towards it makes success less likely. All the talking becomes a substitute for actually acting.
Achieving our goals is about more than just saying we want to do something. It’s about real intent and understanding the motivating factors behind anything we want to accomplish. The most important thing I try to remember is to take bite-size pieces. Small deliberate actions can have broad, long-range effects. It’s the little things you do today that will make you into the person you are tomorrow. I’d love to hear about your success and frustrations in the comments below.
What do you do to get unstuck with your goals?