"Studies have shown that over 90% of people DON'T achieve their New Years goals."
Most people are heading back to work this week and that typically spells the end of their resolutions. Studies have shown that over 90% of people DON'T achieve their New Years goals. If you fear you will be one of them 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 2017 the best year yet.
This article is over 3000 words long and will take a solid 10-15 minutes to read through plus some time to sit down, define how you want to live your life and create goals that serve your vision for your life. If you are willing to go the extra mile and invest some of your time into becoming the best version of you possible it will be a highly rewarding experience.
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. Those climbs are your life's missions; the paths you follow to fulfil 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 destination.
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 you values will make sure you stay on the path towards your vision.
Take out a bit of paper and brace yourself because shit is about to get deep!
"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 be a powerful visualisation of what the long term achievement 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 2017 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 merit in being a great parent or a primary school teacher shaping future generations as there is being the President of the United States or a billionaire tech entrepreneur. Your vision simply has to be the grandest realisation of YOUR dreams for YOUR life, not anyone else's.
Example: At Movement Co our vision is "To redefine human possibility by enabling ordinary people to achieve extraordinary movement". Our highest purpose is to show people that they can achieve amazing things if they put their mind to it and help them to achieve movements they never thought was possible. We don't exist for advanced athletes or gym junkies or #instafit celebrities. No, we exist to help ordinary people like you and me learn to do extraordinary things.
"Your mission is your reason for existing TODAY".
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, your mission is your HOW and WHAT. A business mission will typically have a longer timeframe of several years or even decades but for the purpose of personal goal planning it is ideal to use 12 months.
Your personal mission is the first chapter of the epic journey towards the greatest version of you. It describes what you will do in 2017, 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 enable 10,000 ordinary people to become extraordinary movers". The first step on our journey is to build the ultimate movement training facilities that challenge people to 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. In 2016 our goal was to impact our first 200 members and we achieved that. In 2017 we want to get to over 500.
To achieve this we need to continue to build an awesome tribe of movers that constantly refine what is possible and share in their journey toward incredible movement.
"Your values reflects who you want to be along the journey towards the greatest version of you."
The final step towards defining your WHY is to make a list of the core values and principles that you live your life by.
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 like Bill Gates who has had a massive impact but also changes the world for the better ask yourself these questions:
- Who do I want to see in the mirror during my toughest moments on the path toward my vision?
- How do I want my children and those I encounter in life to remember me?
- What do I want my eulogy to read when I die?
Example: At Movement Co our values are:
- Deliver Happiness - wow people in every interaction
- Redefine Possible - push boundaries and get outside your comfort zone
- Be A Team Player - think about the bigger picture
- Make It Happen - be detail and action orientated
- Be World Class - insist on the highest standards
- Punch Above Your Weight - be creative and innovate
- Be a Teacher and a Student - take responsibility for your own growth and learning
- Have Fun and Play - be adventurous, positive and open minded
- Dream Big - set audacious goals and celebrate personal milestones
- Give Back - come from heart, stay humble and show compassion
Every decision we make about who we let join our team and the standard we hold ourselves to gets viewed through the lens of our values.
EXERCISE 1: Take a moment now to write down your own vision, mission and values. It doesn't need to be perfect and you will benefit from returning to it a few times but just make some notes to get yourself started.
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Step 2. Make your goals DUMB and then SMART
"You need to make your goals DUMB first."
Once you have clearly defined your WHY it is time to create a series of goals that are centred on your values, will help you achieve your mission for 2017 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 something missing. 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 run 5km in under 30 minutes on 21st August 2017" is a SMART goal but it's 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. 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 will likely be 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, uplift 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 Netflix then you need to make the goal uplifting and more exciting than the latest season of Game of Thrones.
Try something like “I want to learn from the greatest minds in history, experience the wisdom of inspirational leaders and 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 priorities, one step back two steps forward and constant voices telling you to quit. Your goals need to be something that can follow a method or defined path towards its 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 around creating new habits and establishing positive behaviours that lay the foundation for the goal 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 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 help you achieve your goals.
EXERCISE 2: Review your goals for 2017 and make sure that they are DUMB.
Once you have created dream based, 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 goals and the more detail you enrich the description of your end state with the more powerful an 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 drills to master and measurable milestones that help our Tribe to see their progress along their journey. You want to be able to look back in March and see how far you have come and also know how much further you have to go to reach your goal.
I have combined these two together they are pretty much the same and it is obvious the person who coined the SMART acronym got a bit desperate to make it fit. Essentially it means to make sure your goal is something that can actually be achieved. Don’t expect yourself to 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 get hurt and your friends will laugh at you. 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 deadline to achieve your goals and it will help you stay on track. Sign up for a book club with regular meetings, register for a 5km charity run or simply 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. Having a deadline for your goals will help you break them down into bite sized chunks too so that it doesn't feel overwhelming. More on that in Step 3 next.
EXERCISE 3: Take your DUMB goals and make sure they are SMART. If not, write them out making sure they are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time based.
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Step 3 - Break down the HOW
You should now have goals that are specific, measurable, inspiring and aligned with your personal values, mission for 2017 and your vision for your ideal life.
Now it's 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 and weekly targets 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. I have picked a couple of the most common goals people choose but the concept applies to almost all goals.
Goal 1: Read 25 books in 2017
- 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 (assuming you are a slow reader like I am).
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 by December 2017 for my sisters wedding
- 5kg per quarter
- One 12 week nutrition challenge per quarter with a 1 week break between each challenge to be a bit naughty.
- 1.7kg per month during each 12 week challenge.
- 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 get started 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.
EXERCISE 4: Break down your goals into bite sized chunks to make them seem more achievable.
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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 which become the platform for the bite sized progressions from 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. To help our community improve their flexibility we implemented a 30 minute dedicated flexibility class after 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 the splits, a back bridge or even simply 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 injuries 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 you do when learning any new skill.
For the example of someone wanting to move better and get fit in 2017:
Week 1 - Join 2 Week trial and attend 2 classes
Week 2 - attend 3 classes including one flexibility class.
Week 3 - Start with a 2 class per week membership to let your body adapt.
Week 4-12 - Attend 2 classes per week plus 2 flexibility classes.
Week 13 - Upgrade to Unlimited membership after 3 months once your body has become accustomed to training regularly.
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.
EXERCISE 5: Take your goals and map out the progressive habits you will create during the first 4 weeks to help achieve your first bite sized chunks.
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Step 5. Embrace failure
"If you have a rough week where you eat a tub of ice cream and binge watch Netflix don't let it spoil all your hard work."
If you have gotten this far you should now have a clearly defined sense of your personal WHY 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 eat a tub of ice cream and binge watch Netflix 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 because 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 down.
I originally planned to launch Movement Co in early 2015 but it was delayed by over 6 months. Countless setbacks and approvals meant that we opened just a couple weeks before the end of 2015. 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 but were not afraid of failure which allowed them to passionately pursue their dreams.
Are you going to be one of them?
I would love to hear your dreams and goals for 2017. Comment below and share anything you found particularly useful from this article.
Founder and Strength Coach