Why You Need to Change the Way You Set & Achieve Your Goals (and how you can)

Jan 04, 2014

“When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time.”

James Clear

It’s New Year’s Resolution season – the season of starting fresh and setting goals for 2014. I don’t have to tell you the challenges we all face with setting these. Like me, you’ve probably set an ambitious goal – most likely to lose weight or get in better shape – and you start off strong with super high ambition, only to be derailed with a weekend of eating/drinking. And, you back off your goals. You miss one of the six workouts you planned for the week. Now, you feel like a failure and you pack it in. I’ve been there.

Here are some stats for you (from University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology):

  1. The Top 3 New Year’s Resolutions – Lose Weight, Get Organized, Spend Less and Save More Money
  2. 45% – Percent of Americans who usually make New Year’s Resolutions (17% infrequently do)
  3. 38% – Percent of Americans who never make New Year’s Resolutions

Now, here are the kicker stats:

  1. 8% – Percent of people who are successful in hitting the NYR goal
  2. 49% – Percent who have infrequent success
  3. 24% – Percent who never hit their goal
  4. 75% – Resolution maintained through the first week
  5. 71% – Resolution maintained past two weeks
  6. 65% – Resolution maintained past one month
  7. 46% – Resolution maintained past six months

And, the other key piece of the study shows that people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t make explicit resolutions.

To boil this down, only 8% are successful in hitting their goal. 8%! The fact is the way we go about achieving our goals is broken.

It’s time we embrace the process. It’s not all about reaching our goals…it’s about making the inches count. It’s the daily things we do on a consistent basis that lead to our greatest results. In The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy, talks about the importance of this. The difference between those that achieve great things and those who don’t is mostly about doing the little things on a consistent basis over a long period of time.

The fact of the matter is that success and achievement takes time. It takes incremental progress and a consistency to get to where you want to go. This isn’t easy. If it was, more than 8% would be hitting their targets. This takes a change in mindset…from an I want everything now perspective to one of knowing that making progress and staying the course will get to where you want to go.

We tend to give up at the first sign of adversity. I know b/c there’s plenty of times I’ve done this. If you want to be a writer….write. Not when the muse hits, but daily. Even if it’s 50 words. There’s power in the process. It’s the great MO….MOMENTUM.

If you want to get in the best shape of your life…work out more and eat less. Don’t make it too hard. I lost 22 lbs. in 2013 only b/c I changed my mindset.

I used to be that guy that tried to do everything at once and at that one failure, I would fall flat on my face. Splat. I finally found some tangible success last year and here’s how I did (thanks to Zig Ziglar for showing me a new way to think about goals).

So, here’s what I did. I made a plan in early 2013…I said 1 lb. a week…that’s it…if I lost 2 lbs. in week 1, it didn’t matter. I just had to lose 2lbs total by the end of week 2. So, 194 lbs. (I know – kind of beefy for a guy that’s 5’8” – Christmas cookies) to start…192 at the end of week 1, when my goal was 193…so week 2, I just had to maintain. This was hard to change my mindset..and I did end up losing 2 lbs. in week 2 – so down to 190 (remember, my week 2 goal weight was 192). Over time, this mindset became incredibly useful. In week 3, I think I gained a pound, so I was back up to 191. Instead of getting upset that I gained a pound, I added my weight next to my week 3 goal note in my IPhone….week 3 goal – 191, actual – 191….so, I was still on track.

The old me probably would’ve been super frustrated and maybe even said screw it, and go on a binge eating journey. Now, I was still on track, so I could focus on week 4. Here’s what became interesting. As I moved down to 185 over the course of the next few weeks, I began to not be so critical…not weighing myself every day and night wondering what that day did for me. It was just a number at the end of the week I was set on hitting. This means if I had a bad day eating and gained a couple pounds, so what. It happened. The next day I knew I could get after it…get in the gym and eat clean.

You see, that’s the key. Failure is coming. We will stumble on our walk to any great achievement. It’s those that keep going, however, that get to the top of the mountain.

It’s imperative to change your mindset. Think about the process rather than simply the outcome. James Clear is a phenomenal writer and he talked about the importance of process in our interview a few months ago. James publishes a blog post every Monday and Thursday, regardless of how good his writing is or where he is. In 13 months, he missed one time and that’s b/c he had pneumonia I believe. But, here’s the golden nugget, that didn’t set him back. The other 100 plus times he hit the publish button had built the momentum he needed to embrace the process.

So, I tell you as you set your 2014 goals and your New Year’s Resolutions. Embrace the process. Set your goals, but really hone in on the process that will get you to your goal. If you want to lose 10 lbs., commit to the process of working out 2-3 days a week to start. If you’re just starting out and getting back into shape, start small. Go for a 5 minute walk and build from there. Map out your process and set your plan….and before you know it, you’ll achieve what you’ll set out to.

So, I know what you’re going to ask….you lost 22 lbs. in 2013 with this approach. But, did you put it back on? I’ll admit to you that, yes, I put some of it back. Thanksgiving to January 1st always gets me! So, here I am at 180lbs, 8 lbs. more than what I was in October. Am I happy about it? No, not particularly. That being said, I know how to embrace the process and I saw results by doing that. So, the IPhone notepad starts over again, but this time instead of 194 it’s 180. I’ll take that.

You’ve probably noticed that you’ve received more consistent posts from me as well. That’s part of this. I decided to not be so critical and not wait for the muse to hit. I took James advice and I’ve embraced the process. So, you’ve seen some sort of contact from me on a weekly basis since mid-October. It may not be my best stuff every time, but that’s okay, b/c it’s all a part of the process (I hope you’ve found value in this – that’s the bottom line). I can tell you that I’ve written many times and left them on the cutting room floor – now, I hit publish more often than not. One of my 2014 missions is to be more vulnerable and authentic so you can expect to see more of that perspective as we venture into the New Year.

So, what are you set to achieve in 2014? Think long and hard about what it is and what it’s going to take to get there. Think about the process and stay true to the process when you fall. Just get back up and keep going. It’s about the small steps we take that bring real progress.

Let us know what your 2014 big goal is in the comments. Here’s to a great 2014. Life = Go Time!



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