So it is that time of year again, and if you are like many of the world, you are perhaps contemplating creating New Year’s Resolutions. And if you are like me, you are probably looking at last year’s and thinking “What went wrong?” Despite all my good intentions and initial strong efforts, I must sadly admit I did not reach all my last year resolutions.
Last New Year’s I talked about making sure your resolutions were SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed. Besides making sure to give you a more than average chance of meeting them, having SMART goals also gives you some sense of success. By creating measurable landmarks, if you don’t totally reach your goals, at least there were small successes along the way. This is especially good news for me since last year kind of developed a plan all its own and I found myself simply along for the ride.
But it did get me to thinking about why we don’t reach our goals. It is not that we don’t have good intentions or lack a sincere desire to reach them. I truly believe most of us desire deeply to make the changes in our lives that our resolutions represent. I don’t think we plan to fail.
I do think we fail to plan for when stumbling blocks inevitably hit. I think we get hit by one of five main factors in our lives that derail us and we find ourselves permanently stuck in steps 6, 7, or 8 of goal setting. I’ve had a lot of training in smart goal setting, dealing with setbacks, and have trained others in achieving their goals but even I find myself caught in the trap. Today, I’m sharing the 10 Stages of Goal Setting. Wednesday, after a decadent Monday Munchies, I’ll explore the 5 reasons we don’t reach our goals and ways we can get around them. And Friday, I will finish up with things we should consider when set goals and as we work them. Hopefully next year we can all say we met each resolution we made!!! After all, 2013 was practice, 2014 was a warm up and 2015, well, the game is on!
Ten Stages of Goal Setting
Step One: The Yahoo Moment!
This is that initial gung-ho moment where the excitement is at its peak and nothing can stop us feeling! This does not last but it is a feeling we should remember and hold on to dearly and tightly. It will help us when the inevitable setbacks happen.
Step Two: Planning to Make it Happen
You are still excited and not much could get you down or deter you. We start putting the intangible of our goal into tangible milestones or benchmarks. We have blinders on and think nothing can stop us, so we don’t plan for what to do when something does stop us.
Step Three: Starting to Do the Work
We start working on our goal. If we decide to get fit, we hit the exercise routine. Lose weight, we start dieting. To do more out reach with our community, we start looking for avenues to volunteer. Pretty simple right?
Step Four: It’s a Little Shaky but I’m Doing It
It took a little doing to work exercise in to my day. I’ve got three days under my belt. It’s been tough but I’m doing this.
Step Five: The Vision is Becoming Reality
You’ve laid the ground work and its looking good. For example, I’ve made it one week where I exercised for 1 hour everyday. I got up at 5 o’clock, hit the gym and despite some little bumps, I can do this and I did do it this week. I’m scheduled it for the next year! This time next year, I will be a whole new me!
Step Six: Life and Reality Start to Set In
The kids were sick and I couldn’t make it to the gym for a week! I got there once but then it was so much harder to do that hour than I remembered. I have an earlier morning meeting at their school so I am going to skip today. This is harder than I thought.
Step Seven: Rationalizing and Denying
Setbacks, life, fear and other things start hitting our goal and we give in. It’s normal. We all do it. As life does hit our goals, we start to deny our original goal or we rationalize why its okay that we are not reaching our goal. My family needs me right now so I can get back on track next month or when summer hits. I’ll have more time then. Our family does okay. I don’t need to worry about making a little extra cash.
In fact, this is where most goals fail. Many of us get stuck here and can’t move on. BUT there is hope. We don’t have to get stuck here.
Step Eight: FREEZE!
Once we rationalize or deny our goal, we just stop looking at it. We just stop doing anything for it. If we have an accountability partner, we stop scheduling or make excuses not to do so. We might say to ourselves, I’ll get back to it next week. You can skip this step but if we get past 7, we generally hit 8 before getting to 9.
Step Nine: Recommitting to Ourselves
If it was something we really did want for our lives, for our family, for ourselves and/or our wellbeing, then at some point we will recommit to our goal. If we accept that steps 6, 7, and 8 will happen in our lives, then step 9 can come much sooner. Accept that setbacks happen. Then, you get back on the wagon and get back to your goals.
Step Ten: Success!
You did it! You reach your goal!
For myself, when I first discovered these 10 steps of goal setting and fully recognized that EVERY GOAL I set will go through these basic or extremely similar steps, I felt free. When I encountered the setbacks that would inevitably come with step 6 through 8, I was prepared. And at that point, I have a choice and a decision. How important was my goal to me, to my family?
If you find that you are ready to move to step 9, then stay tune for Wednesday’s and Friday’s posts to see some ways to get there.