In a study conducted by Dominican University of California, Psychology professor, Dr. Gail Matthews, provides empirical evidence for the effectiveness of three popular coaching tools: accountability, commitment, and writing down one’s goals. In my last post, I asked you to share one goal along with the name of your goal buddy. This post is about staying the course over time.
Goals require dedication and the ongoing desire to succeed. One of the best ways to stay on track is to have a clear goal. Sometimes, it may seem like all you want to do is give up, but if you have a clear goal, the easier it will be to get yourself back on track. Remember the acronym SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Oriented.
Next, think of the process of goal achievement as a marathon, not a sprint. I’m not a runner, however, I’ve known enough people who are that tell me the last few miles are the most difficult. From my own experience in calling prospects, making the last 3 calls can sometimes be more challenging than the first. It can be easy to tell yourself that no one is going to answer their phone because the first 7 people you’ve called haven’t. What I’ve learned is that persistence pays off.
Another way to think about this is to just keep moving. You may be familiar with the story of Chad Hymas. In 2001, an accident left him a quadriplegic. In the summer of 2003, Chad set a world record by wheeling his chair from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas (513 miles). When asked afterward how he stayed the course, he responded – one highway stripe at a time. In other words, he didn’t think about getting to the finish line, he simply focused on moving forward a few feet at a time.
US News & World Report says 80% of people who make a resolution New Year’s Eve have forgotten that commitment in about six weeks. So today, we are 4 weeks into the New Year. If you are feeling like you are failing at the promise you made to yourself as the clock struck midnight on January 1, don’t give up. Accept lapses as part of the process. It’s inevitable that when trying to give up something (alcohol, cigarettes, junk food), there will be lapses. You shouldn’t feel guilty about giving in to your cravings, but accept that it is part of the learning process. Bad habits can take years to become ingrained and there are no quick fixes in making major lifestyle changes. These may be clichés, but we learn by our mistakes and every day is a new day.
If you are off track, here are three things you can do today to make that goal a reality the end of the year.
#1. Write down your goal and post it in a place where you can see it often.
#2. Create an affirmation or manta related to your goal.
#3. Create a plan for the week as it relates to your goal.
Write your goal on the top of a page and your affirmation or mantra beneath it. Then, create 3 columns. In the first column, write down each day of the week. In the second column, list one thing you will do on that day to move you closer to your goal. The third column is a check when this action is complete. At the end of the week, ask yourself the following questions:
- What did I do well this week?
- What could I improve on next week?
- Have I improved, dis-improved or stayed the same since last week?
- Do I have anyone to thank and be grateful for doing something for me this week?
- Do I feel any closer to achieving my goal?
I’d love to hear how this works for you. Please post your responses here.