[We are the Foolish Couple, Andy and Minna, founders of the Foco Academy. We focus on mentoring and teaching the Success Principles and how to apply the principles to the 3 areas of life that money can’t buy: Health, Time, and Love Relationship.]
There are only a few more days left and we’re going not only into a new year, we’re going into a new decade! That’s big! It only happens once every 10 years!
So, how was your last 10 years? Was it just about the same as the previous 10 years? Do you want your next 10 years to be just the same as the last 10 years? If you are, that’s perfectly fine. Many people lead exactly the same life year after year, decade after decade. There’s nothing wrong with that.
But maybe there’s something that you want to improve in your life. Maybe you’ve gained some weight and you can’t seem to get rid of it. Maybe you’ve lost the energy and the drive to excel in your work. Maybe you can’t keep you with your kids but you really really want to.
Well, every year, millions of people set their new year’s resolution, only to drop them a few weeks after. That’s why you tend to see a lot of people at the gym in January, and then the crowd dies down in February and by March or April, the gym is pretty much empty again.
Why is that? Is it because you don’t have the willpower to keep up?
I think not. I don’t think willpower is the problem. The real problem, is how you set your goal.
Now you may have heard of SMART goals. You may even tried setting a SMART goal and it still didn’t work. Why is that?
Here’s why. And if you want your next new decade’s resolution to actually come true, then stay with me.
I’m going to run through this SMART goal that everybody talks about, and tell you what you really need to do to actually achieve your goals.
So SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relatable, and Timely. What does it really mean?
S stands for Specific. Meaning, you don’t set a goal that you want to lose SOME weight. Make the statement more specific by saying something like I will lose 10 pounds by March 31. There, that’s specific, but what it doesn’t do is that it does not drive your emotions. Why do you want to lose those 10 pounds? Why do you want to learn that new language? Or whatever your goal might be? I want to lose 10 pounds so that I can go to my high school reunion and be the hottest girl in class. I want to learning Italian so that when I go to Italy in Summer, I can really immerse into the local lifestyle and not just do the tourist things. I want to get more energy so that I can play basketball with my kids. There should be a strong, personal reason why you want to achieve that goal. If you don’t, then I suggest that you set another goal.
Next is Measurable. This is probably one of the reasons why people like to use ‘weight loss’ as their new year’s resolution. Because it is easily measurable. Not everything is measurable, like ‘I want to be happier’ or ‘I want to have more energy’. So you may want to dig deeper into your goal by answering this question:
I will be (blank, happier, more energetic, etc) when ….
For example, I will have more energy when I can consistently get 8 hours of sleep everyday, where I no longer need to take naps in the afternoon and I don’t rely on caffeine and energy drinks to get me through the day.
When you answer this question, you are essentially telling yourself 2 things:
1. That you know what it takes to get to your goal, and
2. Your goal can now be measured
But that’s not all. You would also want to break down your goal into small chunks so that you can measure your progress as well. For example, I want to lose 10 pounds by March 31st by losing 0.8 pounds every week. That way, you can weigh yourself weekly and see if you are on track or not. And, of course, it is really important to document your progress. This is where trackers and journals come into play.
Next is Achievable. Going to the moon may not be achievable for many of us. So it is important that our goal is achievable. However, many of us tend to lean on the safe side and not push ourselves more.
For example, you may set a goal to make just 5% more this year than last year, but you already know that you get that 5% raise every year anyway. That’s kind of a useless goal don’t you think? The purpose of setting a new year’s resolution is so that we can push ourselves to achieve more and really bring out the best of us. So, set your goal just a little higher than your threshold. This way, you will be more motivated to change.
But what many people don’t do is that they don’t plan for failures and road blocks. For example, you may resolve to ‘eat only healthy foods’. Then what happens? You put that French fries into your mouth and you think ‘oops, that’s it. My goal is busted. I might as well just go back to my old ways’.
Look, you’ve got to give yourself a break once in a while. Unless you are an alcoholic and you are coming off alcohol, you don’t have to be so strict to yourself. Treat yourself kindly. There are many people that are nice and kind to everybody else except to themselves. Understand that you will have occasional setback and roadblocks. Give yourself a break and keep moving towards your goal.
Now let’s talk about the R in SMART goals. Some says R stands for relatable, others say it stands for realistic, or relevant. Whatever you think this R means, just make sure that it is something that is aligned with your values. Also, it is important that whatever SMART goal you set, that you have your stakeholders buy in on that.
For example, you may set a goal to work on a huge project so that you can make a big chunk of bonus or income. But that means you will be spending more time at work and less time with your family. If that’s the case, tell your family ahead of time that you needed to spend more time at work, so that you can get that big bonus so that you can bring the whole family to Disneyland. Your family are your stakeholders, so if you choose to pursue a goal that will affect your relationship with them, you needed to get their buy in and their support.
Last is that your resolution needs to be timely, or time-bound. So that’s pretty straight forward. What the SMART goal doesn’t do is that it doesn’t tell you to set up check points, or milestones, on your achievements. If your goal is to lose 10 pounds. You may want to set up a checkpoint every week to make sure that you are on track. You may also want to set 5 pounds as a milestone and make it a celebration. Hey! You are half way to your goal and it definitely calls for a celebration! Write down how you would celebrate each of these milestones so that you can actually look forward to achieving these milestones while you are working hard on your goals.
So that’s it. Now it is your turn to redefine your new year’s resolution. We hope that your next decade will be fantastic, fun and fulfilling.
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