Here we are one week into 2018 and life is about to return to its normal rhythms after another festive season has come and gone. It is about now that we start to ponder if we are happy and perhaps what changes we want to enact in the coming months and where we want to find ourselves in 12 months time. Summer is a such a wonderful time – the days are long and warm and there is generally a relaxed atmosphere around. There is no better time for motivation levels to soar (especially if stoked by a little guilt from Christmas and NYE over indulgence). Goals are made and plans are set, transformation is about to take place. Right?
As I was contemplating this the other day I remembered a passage from one of my favourite books that I read to my daughter- ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go!’ by Dr Seuss.
You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.
I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
can happen to you.
When was the last time that you set a resolution that you gave up on easily or quickly because a bang up or hang up happened to you? I find the idea that resolutions are almost always destined to fail perplexing. Why has it become almost a joke that people can’t transform themselves? Perhaps as the old saying goes, it is better to laugh than cry.
Nevertheless over the past fortnight my social media and email inbox have seen many articles about planning and goal setting for 2018 arrive. Aside from the negative commentary around setting resolutions, the rest of these articles have a common theme- success and ultimately happiness comes from having a plan. To help you all out I have filtered the main messages out of these blogs and merged them together to provide you with a simple step by step process that you can follow to hopefully create a fun and successful momentum.
Grab a pen and paper…
- First things first, you need to understand what you want to aim for. In order to do that, you need to understand what is most important to you. Spend 5 minutes contemplating what is most important to you in life and why. Place these things in a list of most important to least important. If you find this difficult you can simplify this task by asking yourself the question “what would I choose if I had to make a choice between ‘x’ & ‘y’?” If you give this the right amount of thought and effort it will be a close reflection of your individual values.
- Next up you need to try and establish what changes are important to YOU, as in what you actually want to do rather than what you think you should do. Social media has a funny way of infecting our minds and making us believe that we want the life of someone else. In order to increase your chance of success you must be crystal clear on what YOU want. This of course should stem from your list of values.
- Now that you know what is important and what you want to change, you need to figure out how to get there. In other words, you need to have a plan. This is where the rubber meets the road and where the real work needs to be done. In the past week I received 3 emails that talked about the benefits of creating S.M.A.R.T. goals. This stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timed goals. This is a widely used and discussed method for goal setting however, there are 3 extra elements that I feel are missing from this conversation.
1 A goal is more often than not actually just the end outcome, the result of a series of inputs. For example, the goal of losing 25kg is the end outcome but the achievement only comes about through lots of regular positive decisions and actions (inputs). With this in mind, when you put a plan in place it makes sense to focus on the inputs and not the outcome. This will serve as a righting mechanism for when you go off path, when the ‘bang ups and hang ups happen to you’. Looking at our 25kg weight loss goal, one day of bad decisions or a weekend away etc won’t have as big an impact if you can quickly get yourself back on track, back to your plan, back focussing on your inputs.
2 Now that we know the focus needs to be on the inputs it means that we need to understand our day to day actions in greater depth. Possibly the most significant letter in S.M.A.R.T. is ’T’ for timed. Whilst all good goals with have a time limit/deadline we need to consider the time cost of our inputs and how doing one thing requires taking time away from something else. Whilst a goal might seem possible in isolation, when it is thrown in the mix of daily life and other goals, they can all begin to cannibalise each other. This will inevitably result in frustration and reduced success. So the key is to make sure that all of your inputs are aligned and possible to achieve at the same time.
3 Quite often a list of S.M.A.R.T. goals is like an achievement list where the focus is on completion of a task or the acquisition of something. However, there is an argument to be made that life is better when we focus on enriching moments rather than goals. So whilst it is important to plan for things that you want to attain or achieve, it is also important to factor in the journey when you are doing this. Perhaps we should rename them S.M.A.R.T. moments instead of goals.
So let’s make a quick summary:
- Know what is most important to you
- Know what YOU want to change
- Create a plan for your day to day actions
- Make sure your inputs don’t cannibalise each other
- Have a strong focus on creating S.M.A.R.T. moments
This is a simple method but it takes some time to really sit down and work through it. There is a lot of extra information around each of these points and quite a bit of work at each step.
On Wednesday 24 January 2018 our amazing positive psychologist, Naeidra Deery, and I are running a happy life workshop which will be a combination of education and practical work to assist those in attendance to map out their success plan for 2018. We will be providing the attendees with worksheets and will help them begin their plan right there in the room. I have done this often with clients one on one in the past and it is incredibly powerful. If you are interested in joining us you can register by clicking here and going to the group sessions tab. Feel free to invite friends and family along too.
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy (girl) who’ll decide where to go.