Well, as the sun sets on 2014 and the dawn of 2015 is almost upon us, I wanted to take a moment to revisit a blog post I first wrote a couple of years ago.
Traditionally, December 31st is the day we all sit down with our best intentions and make a list of New Year's resolutions. If we don't manage to blow them all by 6pm on January 1st then we are over the first hurdle (hurray!), but although motivation is still high, chances are that by the time we hit the end of January they are long forgotten and we fall back into the rut of mediocrity.
So what's our answer? Well, if we take a look at Facebook today we can find lots of helpful advice telling us forget the whole New Year resolution deal and instead, make some goals. Not just ordinary goals you understand but the finest 'Marks and Spencers' SMART goals!
For those who don't know what SMART goal are, they are goals that are:-
Ok, but even with these SMART goals in place many still seem to fall by the wayside. How come? It appears just making goals in isolation, like New Years resolutions, is not answer. Well, at least not the whole answer.
So, once again, what is our answer and how do we 'Make it Happen'?
YOU GOTTA HAVE A DREAM!
To best succeed we need to start at the very top and have a dream (very Martin Luther King I know, but it's true) This is something very high level, something that you really, really want to happen, but you don't directly have control of. There are other people or other influences that determine if that dream will come true for you. For example, going after the dream job: you can do all you can to try and secure it, but at the end of the day it is someone else's decision as to whether you are the successful applicant or not. That's not to say, however, you cannot do everything in your power to work towards achieving that dream, so don't throw in the towel just yet!
After knowing what our dream is, we need to focus on what has to be done achieve it. Each stone can have a goal, or a small set of goals, attached to them. These can be your SMART goals.
Goals should have a focus and a direction. There is nothing worse than achieving a goal, only to find that it's the end of the story and you are left asking why the hell did I want to achieve that goal anyway? Goals do work well, but they must fit into the overall plan, and have a definition of how they can be measured. It is good to attach a timescale to all your goals, and use goals as stages progressing thoughout your overall plan, not just in isolation.
Goals do motivate us by providing targets to achieve but be warned, only focus on 1 or 2 in each main area of your life at a time, as taking on too much will almost certainly result in overload and inevitable failure.
BE SURE OF WHAT YOU WISH FOR
For me this is one of the key areas to ensure success. Be sure you really, no I mean really, want what it is you are working towards. If not, go and find a new dream as this one has already failed. This may sound obvious, but avoid the trap of getting caught up in the motivation of the moment. The harsh reality is that motivation is only short lived, you can only stay motivated for so long. What happens when motivation runs out, what is there to replace it? Commitment. Commitment is the single most powerful asset you have to achieve what you want. We can all be motivated, for example, to train hard on bright sunny mornings, in warm weather, when we don't have other commitments or we don't have more exciting things to do. It is commitment that we need to see us through the dark mornings, the cold training sessions, having to juggle family and training, or your new exciting relationship with Gina, the Argentinian Tango instructor who wants to go out for dinner every night rather than sticking to your 'eat clean' diet……you get the point. It is commitment that makes winners.
EVERYONE LIKES A TREAT.
Be kind to yourselves, plan rewards and celebrations for each goal or foundation stone you achieve. I have always found making visible records a great help to measuring progress, and it is something we actively encourage when training at HG3. Another great idea is to display helpful reminders of what you want to achieve in prominent places. Why not print them off and put them in your training bag or on your desk at work or even attach to the fridge? It is never fun doing something difficult alone, so why not do it with a friend? If you know someone who wants to achieve the same as you why not support each other and buddy up?
So you are all fired up; you have a dream, you have your goals, you have declared your commitment to your cause, and you are getting the job done. You are doing great! But to be truly successful in this process, you must be accountable. You need to review your plan regularly and ensure you are hitting your targets - if you're not, then work out why and adjust the plan. It is all too easy drop into the mentality of 'it was others that made me fail', or 'it was the circumstance that made me fail' and never me. This thinking should be reversed, and the first person accountable should be yourself. What did I do that prevented me from succeeding and what can I do to change that? You do have to be pretty strict with yourself here: look deep inside and face the music if you have not stuck to your plan. If you make yourself accountable, rather than others, then you are empowered to succeed - it is in your hands - do everything you can to make it happen!
Finally when you are all done and dusted, take time to reflect. Even if you didn't succeed totally then be happy and accept partial successes, all was not lost and a lot was still achieved. Take the time to look back and celebrate what you have accomplished.
If you need help with anything discussed in this post, please speak to myself or Pete and we will be happy to sit down with you and help you plan.