Studies have shown that over 90% of people don’t achieve their New Years goals.
If you are part of the 10% that have already managed to quit smoking, read a new book, lose a kilo or relinquish your Facebook and email addiction then you can close this window and cross your fingers that these last few days will prefix the rest of your year. Most people are heading back to work this week and that typically spells the end of their resolutions. If you fear you will be part of that 90% of people read on as I share some of my research and experience over the past few years into exactly why our New Years resolutions fail and how you can turn that around and make 2016 the year you dreamed of.
This article is almost 3500 words long and will take a solid 10-15 minutes to read through plus a few hours to sit down and clearly define your personal identity and create goals that serve your vision for your life. If you are willing to go the extra mile to truly realise your potential this year that will be an insignificant investment of your time. If that sounds like you then here are 5 powerful steps that if followed will allow you to become part of the small group of people who will make a real difference in their lives this year.
Step 1 – Start with WHY
Most people begin their year by writing down their goals, sticking it on the fridge and then hoping that some magical new years fairy will bless them with new habits, willpower and discipline. Unfortunately, that is just not how it works. Before you even think about writing down your goals you need to discover your WHY. Your WHY allows you to answer questions such as why these goals are so deeply important to you and why do you want to change.
In order to answer these questions you need to have a clearly defined understanding of what is important to you and how you define your purpose in life. Your goals need to be strongly aligned with who you are as a person in order for you to truly fulfil them. There is no point writing down “Solve world hunger” if you deep down just want to get rich and drive a Ferrari. To get to know yourself and your ambitions on a deeper level you must first define and write down the following three elements which together form a clear statement of your identity; your vision, mission and values.
Imagine you are at the bottom of a mountain staring up at the summit. That summit is your vision; the visualisation of the ultimate realisation of your life’s purpose.
Along the mountain there are a series of climbs that collectively take you to the summit. The first climb is your mission; the present path towards the actualisation of your ultimate life purpose. Like most journeys there are many different paths that will take you there and a number that will send you in the wrong direction. If you focus on one mission at a time and then move onto the next mission each will take you a few more steps towards your ultimate vision.
Along the journey you can choose to be whoever you like but the choices you make and the person you are deep inside will dictate the climbs you take and whether or not you reach the summit. Who you are along the journey is your values. This is the compass that guides you along your journey and at each setback and fork in the road makes sure you stay on the path towards your vision.
Take out a bit of paper or open up an Evernote if you’re fancy like that and brace yourself because shit is about to get deep!
I) Personal Vision
“Your vision for your life should be a clear and inspiring picture of the optimal future state that you desire for yourself.”
Your vision describes who you want to be as a person long term and the impact that you desire to have on the world around you. Your vision should a powerful visualisation of what the long term realisation of your life purpose would look like. As you go through life’s many changes and challenges your vision should remain constant and be a foundation for all decisions to flow from. This statement will not only serve you for 2016 but be a beacon of light to keep you on your chosen path throughout the rest of your life.
To find your vision try starting with a few simple questions:
- What problems in the world do you want to solve?
- What legacy do you want to leave when you die?
- What kind of role model do you want to be for future generations?
These questions should hit you right in the feels and get you thinking about the grand purpose for your life. Don’t feel like it has to be a big grand idea though. There is just as much value in being the President of the United States or a billionaire tech entrepreneur as there is in being a single lady watching Netflix with your cats. Your vision simply has to be the grandest realisation of YOUR dreams for YOUR life.
Example: At Movement Co our vision is “To redefine human possibility and enable people to achieve incredible movement”. Our highest purpose is to break down barriers in peoples minds about what is possible for them and help them to achieve movements and have an experience they never thought possible.
II) Personal Mission
A personal mission varies from your vision in that it is centred in the present state. Your mission is your reason for existing TODAY. While your vision is your WHY and your WHERE, your mission is your HOW and WHAT. Your mission statement will have a shorter timeframe and for the purpose of annual goal planning it is ideal to make it 12 months.
Your personal mission statement reflects the first chapter in the epic journey towards the greatest version of you. It describes what you will do in 2016, who you will do it for and how you will do it. Start with these simple prompts to define your mission:
- What do I need to achieve to move closer toward the realisation of my ultimate vision for my life?
- What impact to I want to have this year?
- Who do I need to grow into this year on the journey towards the best version of myself?
Example: At Movement Co our mission is “To bring into existence the ultimate movement environments that challenge people to explore the limitless potential of human motion”. The first step on the journey towards our higher purpose is to build the ultimate mixed movement gyms that challenge people to break down their own barriers and reach their potential as humans. My mission for 2015 was to design and build our Osborne Park facility which was the realisation of the first part of that mission. The next stage is to build an awesome community of movers that constantly refine what is possible and share in their journey toward incredible movement.
III) Top 5 Values and Principles
The final step towards defining your identity is to make a list of the core values and principles that you live your life by. Too many people today have lives that are centred on external factors such as their work, their family, feelings of pleasure, their possessions or even their religion. By placing the centre of your existence around something which you can not control it places you at the mercy of its inevitable fluctuations. Many people have the desire to lose weight, read more or spend more time with their family but as soon as work, their partner or a state of pleasure such as relaxing on the couch enter the picture they quickly divert back to their centres. In order to prioritise and accomplish your goals you must define your closest held values and principles which become the filter for every decision your make.
Your values reflects who you want to be along the journey towards the greatest version of you. We all know about the Steve Jobs’ of the world who set incredible visions for their life and had an enormous impact on the world but at the expense of most people they encountered along the way. If you instead want to be a Bill Gates who has a massive impact but also changes the world for the better ask yourself these questions:
- Who do I want to see in the mirror at my darkest moment when I venture from the path toward my vision?
- How to I want my children and those I encounter in life to remember me?
- What do I want my eulogy to read when I die?
Step 2. Make your goals D.U.M.B and then S.M.A.R.T
Once you have clearly defined your personal identity it is time to create a series of goals that are centred on your values, will help you achieve your mission for 2016 and will bring you closer to your vision for your life. You have no doubt heard about SMART goals before. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Based. But there is no requirement for these goals to be inspiring, value driven and based on the formation of long term habits which is the key to making them stick. “I will lose 16.5kg of body fat based on a full body composition analysis by June 21st 2015 at 5pm” is a SMART goal but its not going to get you out of bed in the morning. You need to make it exciting! You need to make your goals DUMB first.
D.U.M.B goals are:
This point just drives home the importance of Step 1. In order for your goals to be achieved it is crucial that they align with your dream for your life, that is, your vision for how you want your life to turn out. If you set a goal to train for an ironman but your dream lifestyle is to spend more time with your family then these events are at odds with each other and something will have to give. If your goal is to learn to handstand don’t just write “30 second handstand”. Instead write something like “I want to rediscover my youth by balancing on my hands like I did when I was a kid”. Sure, it’s not as specific but it will give you a purpose behind what you do which is much more important!
If you want your goals to survive more than a few weeks they need to excite you, uplift you and energise you. You need to wake up every morning pumped to continue working towards your goals. If your goal is to read a book a fortnight but you prefer to spend your spare time watching TV and movies then you need to make the goal uplifting. Try something like “I want to delve into the great depths of history, experience the wisdom of inspirational leaders and relentlessly pursue personal development through reading”. That should get you infinitely more excited about reading than “Read one book per fortnight”. Make your goals exciting before you make them specific.
A goal must be something you can work towards and have a clear path to mastery along the way. People rarely get to their goal in one smooth trip. It is a journey of competing decisions, one step back two steps forward and constant voices telling you to quit. Your goals need to be able to follow a method or defined path towards their completion. The method for weight loss is through repeated good nutritional decisions, the method for learning to play piano is through a series of progressively complex and challenging lessons. I speak more about this in Step 3 but it is so important to make goals achievable through progression and iteration.
The very best goals are centred in creating new habits and establishing positive behaviours that are the foundation for the goals to be achieved. If your goal is to lose weight you need to ingrain behaviours such as going for a workout every morning when you wake up or always choosing sugar free, unprocessed foods at the supermarket. Over time these behaviours become habits and habits that are aligned with your values and mission will take you one step closer to your vision.
Once you have created dream driven, uplifting. method friendly and behaviour driven goals it is time to make them specific and measurable. This means going back to those DUMB goals and making them:
If you want to lose weight how many kilograms of fat? If you want to read more, how many books per month? If you want to get fitter what will that look and feel like? The more specific you make your goal, the more detail you enrich the description of your end state with the more powerful and image you will create in your mind to keep you focussed.
Next, determine how those specific and inspiring goals will be measured. Will you use body composition analysis to measure fat loss? Books per month to measure reading? A time in a 5k run to measure improvements in fitness. All of the movements we teach at Movement Co have a series of progression with technique cues and measurable milestones that help our community see the progress along their journey. You want to be able to look back in March and see how far you have come and how much further you have to go.
I have combined these two together because it was clear the person who coined the acronym got a bit desperate to make it fit and just copy and pasted. Essentially it just means to make the goal something that can actually be achieved. Don’t tell yourself you will read a book a week if you are a time poor single Mum. Don’t expect to get a full planche in your first week of Gymnastics. And don’t expect to go from couch to marathon in a few weeks or you will likely do yourself some serious damage. If your goals are important to you and you have read this far you clearly have the patience to see things through and focus on the end game. Look at your lifestyle through the lens of your vision, mission and values, determine how the goals will fit in and then be conservative about the rate at which you will achieve them.
This is probably one of the most important components of goal setting. Give yourself a REALISTIC deadline to achieve your goals and it will help you stay on track. Sign up for a book club, a 5km charity run, our Elements program at Movement Co #shamelessplug or anything with a definitive start and finish that can be measured. Place the date in your calendar, create an event on Facebook, set reminders on your phone and take steps to keep yourself accountable.
Step 3 – Break down the HOW
Now you should have goals that are specific, measurable, inspiring and aligned with your personal values, mission for 2016 and your vision for your ideal life. It is now time to break down the long term goals into smaller chunks that are even more specific, measurable and achievable over a shorter time frame. Breaking your 12 months goals into quarterly, monthly, weekly and even daily micro goals makes them seem more achievable and if you celebrate the little victories along the way it will make you much more likely to continue progressing towards your end goal. I have two examples below. One for personal development and one for health and wellness.
Goal 1: Read 25 books in 2016
- 6 or 7 books per quarter
- 2 books per month
- 1 book per fortnight
- 300 pages per book average = 150 pages per week
- 30 pages per day 5 days per week (be realistic – allow for down days)
- 10 pages read in 15 minutes 3 times a day during breakfast, lunch and before bed.
You can see how reading 25 books might be daunting but when broken down it is easily achievable with just a few small daily habits that will be discussed in Step 4.
Goal 2: Lose 20kg in 2016
- 5kg per quarter
- One 12 week challenge per quarter with a 1 week break between each challenge
- 1.7kg per month during the 3 month challenges.
- 420g per week (a realistic and healthy long term average fat loss rate)
At 20kg overweight a lot of people feel like they will never be able to shift the weight. They struggle to engage in exercise and maintaining a healthy diet can be a huge challenge. But if your weight loss goals are based on a powerful definition of personal identity and broken down into measurable and realistic intervals it is much easier to achieve.
Step 4. Focus on progression and habit creation
Habits are simply repeated behaviours. The key to achieving goals long terms is to centre them around the formation of positive and lasting habits that are the platform for the progressions demonstrated in Step 3.
In order to achieve the 30 pages a day target demonstrated in Step 3 the habit of reading for 15 minutes three times a day must be formed. If you align this with the behaviour triggers discussed in Step 2 it might mean sitting down to read for 15 minutes while you eat breakfast, again on your lunch break and after dinner before bed. Establishing these triggers allows you to create lasting habits that facilitate the achievement of your goals.
At Movement Co one of the most common goals we discover from our community is better flexibility. We implemented a 30 minute dedicated flexibility class at the end of every session to help our members build the habit of daily stretching after training. Over a period of weeks and months they get inch by inch closer to achieving side splits, a back bridge or even just touching their toes.
It is important to follow a steady progression instead of just launching into your goals. Many people who just dive into gymnastic training or climbing for example experience tendon and connectives tissue soreness as their body doesn’t have a chance to keep up. The trick is to pace yourself and program progression into your goals the same way we do with learning a new skill.
For the example of someone building the habit of reading a book a fortnight:
Week 1 – Read every night for just 10 minutes
Week 2 – Read every night plus during lunch time for 10 minutes
Week 3 – Read morning, lunch and evenings for 10 minutes
Week 4 – Read morning, lunch and evenings for 15 minutes
You can easily apply this to goals such as weight loss, running, strength training, personal development and even daily chores such as cleaning the house. It is often said that it takes 4 weeks to form a habit so take your time to gradually build up and you will make it a habit before you have the chance to abandon it.
Step 5. Embrace failure
If you have gotten this far you should now have a clearly defined sense of personal identity with specific, measurable, progressive and uplifting goals that are aligned with your vision for who you want to become. But not everyone is perfect and you should not expect your journey to greatness to be a smooth one. Learning to embrace failure and learn from it rather than using failure as an excuse to return to bad habits and an unfulfilling life is the true secret to long term success. Thomas Edison had a clear vision for a world full of light and a mission to invent the worlds first electric light bulb. He was specific about his design, he measured each and every experiment and made progressions along the way. But he still failed 1000 times before he succeeded. If you have a rough week where you don’t read a page or your performance at the gym goes backwards don’t let it spoil all your hard work. Learn from the mistakes you made and get yourself back on track by focusing on the journey not the individual moments.
One of my favourite quotes is “Shoot for the moon. If you miss, you’ll land among the stars”. To me this means to be ambitious, set challenging goals and aim high but don’t be discouraged if you fall short because you will be closer to your goals than if you had aimed too low and fallen back to earth. I originally planned to launch Movement Co in early 2015 but was delayed over 6 months. Countless setback and delays meant that we opened just a couple weeks ago before Christmas. But that didn’t stop me. I maintained some flexibility on the deadlines, kept my vision in the front of my mind and pushed forward.
The people who have achieved great success in life dared to dream, were not afraid of failure and passionately pursued their dreams.
Are you going to be one of them?
I would love to hear your dreams and goals for 2016. Comment below and share anything you found particularly useful from this article.
Founder and Strength Coach