So 2016 is here and as always the new year initiates a time for reflection and resolutions for the year ahead. Each year the topic of new year’s resolutions excites armies of fans and critics alike, each shouting about the pros and cons, this year louder than ever before it seems. With every trend comes the anti-trend whereby it becomes fashionable to criticize the trend and label it defunct. This year it would seem is the year of the detox and resolutions anti-trends!
In my experience, I would suggest that the issue is never with the making of resolutions per se but instead the way that people approach too broad a goal, or that they adopt an all-or-nothing approach or become overly emotional to the slightest failure or straying from ‘the plan’.
With this in mind I wanted to go through the 5 ‘F’s of Success, which I normally use in reference to health or performance goals but in this case I hope it might help us as we make our goals, plans and resolutions for 2016…
To avoid your goals being too broad, you must aim for 2 things: that they are specific and that they are meaningful to you. Break larger goals into smaller parts which will accumulate towards ultimate success. The more specific the goal, the easier it will be to measure your success and the happier you will feel as you cruise through time ticking your boxes. Secondly, focus on what the goal means to you. What will achieving that goal mean to you or how will that make you feel? Focus on it being meaningful to you and you will have already doubled your chances of success.
Too many people make the mistake of declaring “this is my goal” but don’t actually create a formula or plan for how they are going to go about it. This does not have to be a masterplan but it does need to include some sort of strategy. Even if your goal is something like wanting to reduce your sugar intake- what is your formula for making this happen? Perhaps part of the plan will be to ensure you have different types of healthy snack with you at all times to ensure you don’t get caught on the hop and make a bad, sugary decision. It doesn’t have to be complicated but you do need a formula to ensure you make some change!
Success in anything requires a first step, you have to get going! It is only the 4th January and I have already met with patients who are despondent because they haven’t been able to get going with their new year plans. It’s the 4th! Their despondence can quickly reduce their motivation and cause them to make bad choices which can them feel unwell which in turn makes them feel more despondent. Before long it is easy to see how it’s possible to get stuck in a paralyzing vicious circle.
My answer for them, invariably, has been ‘relax’. The only person judging you for starting on the 9th rather than the 1st is YOU. Make sure the timing is right for you but then just take that first step and implement something, some part of your formula. It can be something small, but it must be a positive, proactive step, that will make you pleased and the next steps will feel easier and lead to more productivity. Before you know it you will have turned that potential vicious circle into a virtuous circle of goal fulfillment!
This may not be on everyone’s list of components of success(!), but it is so crucial that it cannot be ignored. (It always brings to mind 2 quotes that I will come to later.)
We have already determined that your goal should be focused and formulated with a long-term aim that leads to lasting positive change- not quick fixes to see you through to February! With this in mind and I hate to be the one to let the cat out the bag but… you’re going to fail.
At some point something will not go to plan, something won’t meet your expectations or for some reason you will fall off the wagon. Again, who is the only person punishing you for this? Yes, I’m afraid once again it’s you. Winston Churchill said,
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
So prepare yourself that you might not get it right all the time, learn from any mistake and get back to the formula as quickly as possible.
The other quote I always think of comes from the equally eloquent Mike Tyson (!) who said,
“Everybody has a plan ‘til they get punched in the face”
Now we don’t all get punched in the face too often but we do encounter stumbling blocks that mean we have to adapt our formula and this often leads to a better, improved plan. It is our little failures that build our big successes.
So, in summary…
1.Focus your goals so they are specific and meaningful.
2. Create you’re your step-by-step Formula.
3. Take that positive First Step.
4. Bounce back from Failure.
Then, what’s left?..
Happy New Year.