By Kris Duggan, CEO of BetterWorks
It’s already February, and if you’re like most Americans it’s highly likely you’ve thrown your New Year’s resolution out the window. According to 2014 research published by the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology, a mere 8% of ambitious goal setters end up sticking to their resolutions. While this statistic isn’t particularly shocking, I’d argue that we could see this percentage increase ten fold if we simply make changes to the way we’re setting goals, and to the processes we’re taking to achieve them.
While goal setting in itself is fundamentally good, our process of achievement is broken. We set lofty goals in self improvement, education, weight loss, finances, our careers and our relationships, hit roadblocks and find it difficult to sustain the proposed change long term. Through my work at BetterWorks applying Goal Science to all facets of business, I’ve witnessed goal achievement materialize, and it involves more than a declaration of a resolution and instant, daily change. It takes focus, accountability, feedback, motivation and adaptation.
This year, as I grow BetterWorks, I’ve personally set resolutions, as well the corresponding processes and everyday changes I’ll make to be sure I achieve each one. Some of my work-related goals include expanding our team while maintaining company culture, increasing our product breadth, growing upsell and renewals and ending the year with twenty amazing case studies that illustrate the dire need for goal-setting in the modern workplace. I’ve also set personal goals to be a better husband, brother, dad and son. But the difference between typical New Year’s resolutions and my 2015 goals is the very specific plan I have in place to guarantee achievement. Specific key results are assigned to each goal, like playing board games with my kids ten times in 2015 and weekly lunches with my wife.
The application of goal science to New Year’s resolutions can help turn lofty goals into achievable steps that lead to real results. Here are my top five tips for meeting your 2015 resolutions at work or at home:
1. Ask yourself.
Knowing why you want to make a change can incentivize and motivate you to complete a goal. Your reputation and health are solid motivators, but you might be searching for something more. Often times we set goals because we know the end result would make us a better person—carry that knowledge with you day to day to remind you why you even set the goal in the first place.
2. Make your goal tangible and focused.
Setting aloof goals that are near impossible to achieve is a recipe for disaster. Instead make your goals concrete, and choose to focus on three to five goals at a time. Your goals should be quantifiable with clear metrics and milestones, like in the case of my weekly lunches with my wife, or goal to play board games ten times with my kids in 2015. Without getting specific, it’s difficult to measure progress and success.
3. Give yourself time.
New Year’s resolutions are goals set for the duration of the year, but goal setting and achievement should be an ongoing process as aspirations evolve and life throws changes your way. Take small steps along the way to achieve bigger goals. It’s ok to take time to get there — change is gradual and doesn’t happen overnight. Adapting your goals based on life circumstances will reinforce that flexibility is a requirement to stay on track long term.
4. Grab an accountability partner or two.
Connectivity and support from others will not only prompt you to succeed, but can also prove extremely helpful if you are trying something new. If your community, or a few select people, know about the goal you’re trying to achieve, the transparency might be enough to motivate you to continue, even when the going gets tough.
5. Take little steps.
I believe this is a major reason the majority of Americans don’t meet their goals — they are only focused on the end result and forget to plan the middle. For example, if your goal is to lose 50 pounds by the end of 2015, but you aren’t breaking it down into tangible goals by month or week, it is highly unlikely that you’ll progress towards achievement in a healthy manner. Similarly, in the workplace, achieving major goals require a series of small steps that put you on the path to success.
Setting and achieving goals at any scale — whether at work or at home — takes commitment. It shouldn’t be about where you want to be at the end of this year, but what it will take to move you forward in years to come. Think of this year’s resolution as a small step to permanent change, and take the time to plan out how you’ll get there — and stay there — long term.
Kris Duggan is the CEO and co-founder of BetterWorks, an enterprise goals platform trusted by high performing companies to engage, empower and cross-functionally align their workforces. By applying Goal ScienceTM thinking, BetterWorks drives companies to become operationally excellent and provides powerful insights about how work gets done.