Life Coach London Hans Schumann shares his top tips for finally hitting your goals in 2019
Did you make any New Year’s resolutions this year? I have some bad news for you: Statistics claim that 92% of people don’t stick to them. If you want to be part of the 8% who do make it, then this article will tell you all you need to know:
- How to choose your goals
- How to craft them effectively
- How to make your goals powerful
- How to create the perfect conditions for achieving your goals
- What could get in your way
- How to get back on track
If you want your life to be different in 2019, read on!
New Years’ Resolutions v Goal Setting
New Year’s resolutionstend to be vague expressions of an intention. If you make a resolution such as to “drink less”, “eat healthier” or “exercise more”, you are making it tough to stick to them. It’s not even clear what exactly those resolutions mean.
I recommend swapping your New Year’s resolution with specific goalsfor 2019. Experts claim that this type of strategy is much more likely to be successful.
There are a few things to know about effective goal-setting and I am going to share all of them with you in this article. We will cover practical guidance as well as some deep stuff about your mindset.
Following my tips will assist you in creating real change in your life!
What goals to choose?
Do you already have specific goals for your life? I know from my coaching practice that most people don’t. Indeed, many find it difficult to decide on goals for their life. They may not know what they want, have difficulties choosing or have an inner voice that is critical and shoots down their dreams. Life just “happens” to them.
If you want to take charge of your life, you may find the following exercise helpful.
Rate your satisfaction with the key life areas set out below on a scale from 1 to 10. A scoring of 10 would stand for complete fulfilment in that area.
|Life area||Level of satisfaction (from 1 to 10)|
|Health & Body|
|Learning & Personal Growth|
Once you have rated each area, pick one to focus on in 2019. Maybe an area that is important to you, but you gave it a low satisfaction score.
The next step is to create specific goals for your chosen area. Ask yourself the following:
- What specifically would increase your satisfaction in this area to 10? – This could be your long-term goal.
- What specifically would increase your satisfaction in this area by just one point? – This could be your short-term goal.
Now, let’s start formulating those goals!
The basics of goal setting
You probably heard about “SMART” goal setting. It’s what makes the difference between a vague resolution and an effective goal. There are many different definitions of what SMART stands for. I use the extended “SMARTER” acronym, which I read as standing for Specific, Meaningful, Action-Orientated, Realistic, Time-Bound, Ethical and Rewarding.
Specific:A goal is only effective if it tells you exactly what you need to do to achieve it. Avoid setting vague goals such as: “I want to become fitter because the outcome is not defined. It’s also not possible to measure this goal, so you can’t track your progress and you won’t know when you have achieved it. A more specific goal would be: “I want to lose 4 kilos by 1 March 2019 by removing bread and pasta from my diet and exercising three times a week”.
Meaningful: The bigger your goal, the more effort will be required to achieve it – so you’d better make sure that your goal is meaningful to you. Be wary of goals that you think you “should” aim for, for example “Ishouldgo to the gym more often”. When my clients use the word “should’, it’s often a sign that their motivation is not strong enough. Go for goals that you wantto achieve; goals about things that are most important to you in life. Alternatively, link your goals to those matters that you feel more passionate about. Create a big “WHY” that will fire you up to follow your goals through to completion.
Action-Orientated: It’s fine to have a big goal such as “to feature in a movie in three years’ time” but it needs to be actionable. The mere goal to become a movie star is not, but you can support it with actionable sub-goals. In the given example, your sub-goals could be to:
- get a mentor, who has featured as a lead in a movie, by July 2019
- create a presentation map with your CV, photos and references
- build a personal website by May 2019
- finish drama school by the end of 2020
- get an agent by October 2019
Realistic:Whilst I am all up for dreaming big, it’s also important to be realistic. If my goal was to become president of the United States, I would spend a lot of energy on a lost cause. If your goals seem far out, at least your sub-goals need to be realistic, as in the above example of the actor wanting to feature in a movie.
Time-bound: Always state when exactly you will achieve your goal. This will assist you in keeping your focus and measuring your progress. It also makes your planning easier. For example, if you set a date to run a 10K in April 2019, you can then plan your training sessions backwards and ensure that you will hit your goal by then.
Ecological:A goal is “ecological” if it has no detrimental impact on other beings or the environment. This won’t make your goal more effective, but it’s responsible to consider the wider impact it may have.
Rewarding:Define the reward you will gain from attaining your goals – not just the final one, but also all the smaller ones along the way. You will have something to look forward to and can celebrate the achievement of each milestone.
The X-Factor for your goals
Now that we have covered the basics of creating SMARTER goals, let’s give your goals steroids! Here are a few insider tips to enhance your goals even further:
Write them down:There is something about writing down goals that makes them more powerful. It’s a physical expression of your commitment. Specify:
- your target date
- what makes each goal important to you
- what each goal will give you in terms of rewards, whether those rewards are emotional, material or spiritual.
Display your written goals where you can see them each and every day. I like using my bathroom mirror or the screensaver of my computer.
Create a vision board: A vision board is another way to engage with your goals so that they remain at the forefront of your mind. A vision board is a collage of images that illustrate what you want to create in life. If your goal is to buy a house, your vision board could show images of houses that you like, with you and your family next to them. If you want to become fitter, the board could show images of deliciously healthy meals, exercise equipment and landscapes where you enjoy running. You could even pin a picture of your head on a fit body cut out of a magazine. I have a vision board with images covering each area in my life that I want to improve.
Hang up your vision board on a wall where it is visible to you every day. Look at it at least once a day. When you do, connect to your dreams and really feel the emotions associated with your goals. This will assist you in maintaining your focus and energy to pursue them.
Create a clear strategy with small, manageable steps: If you have an inspiring goal but no clue how to go about achieving it, it’s more likely that you will procrastinate, potter around and eventually lose your motivation. If, on the other hand, you have a clear strategy that tells you what you need to do day-by-day to achieve your goals, it will make the process much easier. You will only need to focus on the next small, manageable step ahead of you; and you know that if you follow each of those small steps, eventually you will achieve your final goal.
Create accountability: Another great way to strengthen your commitment to your goals is to announce them publicly. The mere act of sharing your goals with others will make them feel more real, and you probably won’t want to lose face by having to tell people that you did not follow through with them in the end.
There are many ways you can share your goals in public:
- Tell your friends and family about them
- Announce them on social media or your website
- Commit to your life coach
- Write them down and display them where others can see them, for example above your desk at work
- Commit to someone else who has the same goals and will do the challenge with you
- Tell your manager about work-related goals as part of your appraisal process
Creating accountability works well for my own goals. I do a Dry January every year and my bulletproof strategy for sticking to it is that I invite clients to join me. Once I have committed to a client, I know that I will do it. I will never breach the commitment. If a Dry January appeals to you too, join my Dry January Facebook Group here.
Team up: How about teaming up with someone who is working on the same or similar goals? It’s more fun doing it together and you can support each other. For example, if you have a gym buddy who is waiting for you at your fitness studio at the agreed time, you are more likely to go because you don’t want to let her down.
If you don’t have a friend to team up with, consider one of the following alternatives:
- Join a social group, for example a running group if your goal is to become fitter
- Join a support group, for example Alcoholics Anonymous if your goal is to stop drinking
- Create your own Facebook or MeetUp group for people sharing the same goal as you
Get professional support: Depending on the nature of your goal, there is a range of professionals you can hire to assist you. It’s an investment that shows that you are seriously committed to your goals. A professional can provide advice, accountabilityand emotional support:
- Personal Trainers: If you have a fitness-related goal, working with a trainer will not only push you much harder; your trainer will also ensure that you follow the most effective strategy for your fitness goals.
- Teachers: If you want to improve a skill such as singing or speaking a foreign language, you will make faster progress if you hire a teacher. I am going to take singing lessons in 2019. Just for fun!
- Mentors: If you want to progress in your career or grow your business, working with a mentor could be a good choice. This could be someone who has already achieved what you are aiming for in your career or business. Many will mentor you for free.
- Consultants: Some goals may benefit from specialist advice, for example from a nutritionist, financial advisor, marketing specialist or doctor. Reach out and get the best advice you can afford to ensure that your strategy works.
- Coaches: A coach like me can support you through the whole journey: exploring your life goals, setting SMARTER goals, creating a strategy, dealing with setbacks, holding you accountable, providing emotional support and celebrating success with you.
Read more about the differences between mentoring, coaching and consultancy, and how to choose the right support, in my article: “How to find the perfect coach for you”.
Even if you have all of the above in place, things can still go pear-shaped. That’s OK. When things don’t go according to plan, that’s a good opportunity for learning and making adjustments.
The following model sets out 5 levels at which problems with your goals can occur:
When you struggle to achieve a goal, it’s important to establish which of the 5 levels in the above pyramid need to be addressed. Working on the lower levels, for example adjusting your strategy, will have reduced chances of success if there is an issue at a higher level.
Let’s look at each of the 5 levels in detail:
Environment: Does your environment support your goal?
- If your goal is to lose weight, having healthy snacks around you rather than junk food will make a huge difference.
- If you want to go to the gym first thing before work, packing your gym bag in the evening may just tip the scale when your motivation is low in the morning.
- If you are surrounded by people who pursue a lifestyle you are trying to escape from, it may be time to build a new network of people who support your goals. Equally, the same applies if the people around you affect your motivation with their negativity. There is a saying that your personal growth is determined by the company you keep.
Strategy: Is your strategy fit for purpose? Maybe your workout routine or your meal plans need to change. Maybe you need to create a different routine for your day, for example moving your daily meditation from the evening to the morning. If you are unsure about the best strategy for you, talk it through with a friend or get advice from a professional.
Skills: You may have the right strategy, but not the skills to put it into action. This may be a great opportunity to learn and grow. Do you need additional qualifications to get a promotion at work? Fancy upgrading your cooking skills to support your goal of eating healthier meals, or want to improve your time management?
Beliefs:What limiting beliefs may be holding you back? Sometimes we have thoughts that sabotage all our good intentions. If you believe that you will fail in your efforts, it’s more likely that you will. Our subconscious mind is always looking to affirm that which we already believe to be true.
Limiting beliefs may also come with an inner voice that keeps raising all sorts of objections. It may even whisper into your ear that you might just as well give up. Limiting beliefs will no doubt affect your confidence and motivation.
If you have already done personal growth work, you may already know how to spot and address your limiting beliefs. If not, a life coach like me can help you with this. I use a range of tools, including psychometric testing, to help my clients explore their internal world and then to adjust it to help them function more effectively in life.
Identity: Do you hold an identity that conflicts with your goals? This topic is similar to the limiting beliefs I mentioned above. We all hold an internal blueprint of who wethinkwe are. As with our limiting beliefs, our subconscious mind is doing its best to maintain this perceived identity. In fact, it may feel threatened if we try to change that identity.
Examples of identities that may hold a person back are: I am fat, I am a loser, I am an addict, I am stupid. There are countless others! On the upside, choosing a positiveidentity can greatly assist your goals.
I managed to give up smoking after I retrained to be a life coach. I was fully committed to my new chosen identity and decided that, as a life coach, I could no longer be a smoker. This helped me in quitting. It was easy because I loved my new identity more than the cigarettes.
Purpose:If you have all of the above in place and you are still struggling to stick to your goals, then your WHY may simply not be strong enough. You may perceive more benefits from your inaction than from the pursuit of your goals. This often happens unconsciously.
A classic example is that of people who have health and fitness goals but do not adhere to them because they keep prioritising other things. When the are faced with daily health decisions, they choose the short-term pleasures they gain from a biscuit, cigarette, drink or from resting on the sofa. More about this in the next section.
Are you too comfortable to change?
One of the biggest barriers to personal growth that I often come across in my life coaching practice is when a client feels too comfortable in the discomfortof their current situation. They like the “idea” of a different life outcome, but in the end things aren’t really bad enough to make them change. That, or the vision of life on the other side of the change, is not compelling enough.
If this is you, you can increase your motivation by deeply connecting to either the pain of your current situation or your vision of the future. What works best depends on whether you are the type of person who is more motivated by getting away from pain or moving towardspleasure.
You can also link your goals to other values of high importance to you. For example, if you have a high value on being comfortable and this adversely affects your health goals, consider how much discomfort you will end up in if you don’t look after your health.
Alternatively, accept that it’s not the right time for you to change. What I don’t advocate is to punish yourself for not making a change that you think you “should” be making when, if you are honest, it’s just not that important to you. That’s just being unnecessarily cruel on yourself.
Motivation v Commitment
A great deal has been written on the topic of motivation. Motivation is great, but ideally I would love you to have something much stronger: A solid commitment to your goals. The difference is that motivation depends on your emotional state in any given moment. If you feel well, your motivation is high; if you feel down, it crumbles. Relying on your motivation boils down to a daily struggle between your goals and your emotions.
A commitment, on the other hand, is a firm decision. It stands no matter what your emotional state is on any given day. You just do what you committed to, no matter how you feel.
What would help you to turn your motivation into a commitment? For me it is about making myself accountable to another person: my own coach, clients or friends.
What would work for you?
Monitoring your goals
Last but not least, remember to monitor your goals regularly. If you have written them down, don’t put them into a drawer where they will be forgotten! Diarise review points, check on your progress and, if necessary, make adjustments using my goal-troubleshooting model above.
Over to you!
By setting goals you are taking an active part in creating the best possible version of your life. So what are you waiting for? Time tostart making your dreams a reality!
For more tips and inspiration visit bit.ly/lifetipsforyou.
Hans Schumann is an accredited coach and published author providing Executive Coaching, Career Coachingand Life Coachingin London and via Skype. Email: email@example.com| website: https://www.hansschumann.com| telephone: +44 7795450710