Sunday, January 01, 2006

A Brand New Year...A Brand New Start!

I know it is customary to make New Year’s resolutions and to plan your goals for the upcoming year. It's why the gym parking lots will be jam packed over the next few days and you will likely see people out walking or jogging in your neighborhoods that you likely never see. More people will swear off junk food for the time being. In fact, this is called the "blue week" for the likes of McDonalds and other fast food chains as most see a moderate drop in daily sales. But alas, this week many people will start off with good intentions and a host of honorable expectations only to find that next week, it will become ever so easy to slip back into the old path of least resistance.

I submit that many people that will ultimately fail actually go about setting goals and making resolutions incorrectly. A recent conversation with a good friend of mine was an example of that. Amongst his lofty ambitions for the New Year were:

1. Lose fifty pounds
2. Make more money
3. Exercise every day
4. Spend more time with his kids
5. Buy a new car
6. Play more golf
7. Don't work as hard
8. Take 3 vacations

I am sure when you look at these, you can see the incongruence. He doesn't want to work hard but he wants to make more money. He wants to lose fifty pounds and go to the gym despite the fact that he has been a member of Gold's Gym for three years and has only gone in 15 times (5x per January). He wants to take 3 vacations and play more golf and but again, not work as hard. I should point out he is neither an entrepreneur nor the leader of the company he works for....he is simply an employee (with little control of his time and salary).

Don't get me wrong, I respect my friend and what he would like to achieve. It is simply not realistic. This is the problem with so many people when they sit down and carve out their list. Rather than name it a list of goals or resolutions, they should call it what it really is, a wish list.

There are countless BLOGS and websites that right now are telling people how to set their path for the new year. I respect them and what they have to say but submit that there is another way that has at least worked for me.

Rather than do a wish list of all the things you want to change or achieve, why not start off with a moderate but attainable list of ONE thing you want bad enough to actually work your tail off to achieve it. Write it down, print it out, put it on the bottom of your mirror so you see it every morning, put a copy in your billfold, put one on your dashboard and on your desk at work. Surround yourself with the very public declaration that this is what you plan to achieve. I believe when you do this, you sort of create a public and private cheering team that will encourage you when things get hard (and they will). It's easy to let ourselves down but I haven't met one person that will allow their image to be that of a loser or a quitter when it comes to how others perceive them. It becomes a great motivator and benchmark to stay the course until the goal or resolution is achieved.

Forget the huge list of unattainables. The failure in one will lead to the failures of them all. Focus on one thing and achieve it before committing to another. Believe me, this practice has served me well for years and it has allowed me to create new business ventures, sell my company, write a book, get over my (very real) fear of public speaking, etc. etc. I was able to achieve each of them one at a time and you know what? It felt great! It gave me more confidence and fueled me to achieve the next one and I suspect it will do the same for you.

Today marks January 1st of 2006. A new start! A brand new "do over."

I wish each of my readers a very happy and healthy 2006!!!


Thom Singer said...

Excellent advice.

Happy New Year.

Adam said...

Good stuff, Steve. Overall, I agree, and focus is something I'll be working on with my goals this year. I'm conflicted on one thing, though: your friend doesn't need to wait until he loses fifty pounds to work on making more money, right? It seems that, while focusing on one thing is good, there is still room for multiple goals if others are in the auxiliary.

Perhaps it has to do with the vastness (and number) of the goals. For me, I've separated personal and business goals. I have two of each and am finding ways to work toward each goal every day. On one hand, this seems contrary to your focus statement, but my focus is in limiting myself to four goals and working on them every day.

What do you think?

Hollis Baker said...

When I came in here I had 10 New Year's resolutions. I layed them down right over there some place but I can't seem to find them now.
Oh well, the only one I remember is that I resolve to print, bind, cover and give to each of my grandchildren one copy of my 35 years collection of speeches. Well most of them.

Chuck Brady said...

Hello Steve,

I liked what you had to say about creating a focus on smaller more attainable goals so they are more likely to be achieved.

One of the best things you can do when goal setting is putting yourself in the position of having already achieved your goal. What you want to do is condition your mind to be the change you want. For instance using the example of your friend wanting to lose 50 lbs; this is a great goal but the success rate could be greatly increased with a slight change in strategy.

The way I would approach it is first of all figure out how much I would weight after losing those 50lbs. For example if your friend is currently 250lbs then his goal is actually to weight 200 lbs. When writing out this goal your friend should write "I weight 200 lbs", putting himself in the mindset of a 200 lb man.

The purpose of goal setting is to create a change. The best way for this change to occur is the make the mental shift, once your friend believes he is a 200lb man the rest will take care of itself.

These are my two cents on the subject,