The Case Against New Year's Resolutions
What does a New Year's resolution mean to you?
Think about them in the context of exercise and fitness. I've let my gym membership lapse because I've been doing my workouts at home ever since I discovered kettlebells. Yet, when I used to go to the gym a couple times a week, I'd notice a very distinct pattern around the holidays.
From September through early November, I could walk into the gym pretty much whenever I wanted, and hop on the machine or weight rack of my choice without a wait. Sure, people were there. The regulars. But, it wasn't busy by any stretch of the imagination.
Then Thanksgiving comes. The week leading up to Thanksgiving, we start to feel guilty for how much we know we're going to eat. Everyone who hasn't been using their gym membership starts coming back in a preemptive counter-strike on their holiday gluttony.
Between Thanksgiving and the holidays, gym usage ramps up a little more. As an excuse to eat more and let loose on the turkey, pumpkin pie, sugar cookies, and every other little sweet we nibble on throughout the day at holiday time.
Then, New Year's Day comes — it's resolution time!
The gym floods. When in October I could walk in at any time to get the machine or weight bench I wanted, come January, I have to plan my gym time for the off-hours. Everyone's made another New Year's resolution. So, they've bought new gym memberships. And they're at the gym … all the time.
Until about three weeks into January. All of a sudden, you walk in at peak hours, and there's one or two machines available.
A couple weeks later, more machines are available.
Then by the end of March, gym usage hits a spring slump as New Year's resolutions have all been violated once … twice … then just given up.
It doesn't just happen in fitness, either.
This same pattern of setting a New Year's resolution happens in budgeting and savings, career goals, personal development, and a whole host of other areas.
Set the resolution for New Year's. Work on it hyper-actively for a short burst in January and February. Then by March, lose focus and eventually give up because, well, we haven't done such a good job of sticking to it.
Good news though from research into the life of the world's most successful people.
There's a different type of goal-setting that actually works!
Dr. Joe Vitale does a good job of explaining it in The AWAI Accelerated Income Goals System. In fact, he doesn't just explain it. He dimensionalizes it dozens of different ways until you can see exactly how to use what you learn in your life, to accomplish more.
And, he's worth listening to.
Dr. Vitale is the author of "more books than [he] can remember" (over 30), he's recorded programs for Nightingale-Conant, he's a respected copywriter and marketing consultant demanding very large fees for his services, and recently he was featured in the hit movie The Secret. Enviable success, I think.
So, what works in goal-setting?
Of course I don't have room to break down the entire Accelerated Income Goals System here, but let's look at some of the core parts of goals that actually get accomplished.
- Think BIG!
- Be specific
- Break down achieving your goal into actionable steps
Example 1: How to set a weight-loss goal you'll accomplish.
Let's apply this to weight loss, as an example of a goal that will work better than 99% of New Year's resolutions.
Let's say by next Christmas you'd like to be back to how much you weighed in your early 20's, which is 40 pounds less than your current weight.
Most New Year's resolutions would say, "I'm going to lose this extra weight this year, and I'm going to do it by going to the gym and watching what I eat."
That goal may be big enough. Yet, it's not nearly specific enough. And, if that were my goal, I would have no clue what I'm going to do from day-to-day to get me closer to my goals.
Here's a goal to significantly increase your chances of success.
"By next Christmas, I'm going to lose 40 pounds. I can do this and have some room left over by losing one pound a week. To do this, I'm going to use a calorie tracker to follow how many calories I eat every day. And, I'm going to eat 500 less calories per day, in accordance with recommendations to lose one pound a week. In addition to this, I'm going to work out on Saturdays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays for at least 30 minutes each time. I know I can stick to this because I'm going to feel happier and healthier with every pound I lose."
Now that's a goal that will get results!
Example 2: How to set a goal to create your spare-time biz success.
Let's translate these principles to, say, a spare-time resume writing business.
A New Year's resolution destined for failure would be, "I'm going to get started with my spare-time resume writing business this year."
Let's turn that into a powerful goal that will get you the spare-time business success you want.
Try this. "I'm going to earn $20,000 this year from my spare-time resume writing business. To do this, I need to earn $1,667 per month. This is $416 per week. If I charge $150 per resume, this means I need to do three resumes per week, four weeks a month, for the next year to achieve my $20,000 income goal. To do this, I'll use classified advertising, online advertising, and networking with employment agency directors to find 30 prospective clients per week, and attempt to convert one in 10 into paying clients."
This specific goal-setting does something incredibly powerful. You take vague ideas and turn them into specific actionable steps you can take. So, every day between now and when you accomplish your goal, you know what you need to do to get from here to there. You can do today's task today. Tomorrow's tomorrow. And so on. And, each day you'll be one step closer to achieving your goals.
With that power in your hands, anything is possible.
Another tip to increase the power of your goal-setting: Write your goals down. In your handwriting. (Not typed.) There's something about it that tells your brain … or maybe the universe, if you'd like to get mystical … that this is something you're going to manifest in your life. And, it increases your ability to get your goals accomplished.
Once you've written your spare-time biz goal down for 2010, I want you to also type it up as a comment below, to let the world know what you're going to accomplish.
The Professional Writers’ Alliance
At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »