I’d love to know what was your major goal or resolution for 2016?

And how are you doing on this goal or resolution with only 30 days remaining in the year?

Wait a second, do you even remember your goal or resolution you set last January?

The book What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School by Mark McCormack tells of a study conducted on students in the 1979 Harvard MBA program that gives the scary reality of resolution-making and goal-setting.

The students were asked, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?”

  • 84% had no specific goals
  • 13% had goals, but not committed them to paper
  • 3% had defined, written goals or plans

So the odds are that you don’t have any 2016 goals and if you do, you probably didn’t write them down. Bummer!

This is a critical and common error in goal-setting and resolution-making.

I’m sorry and I hope I’m wrong, but these odds tell me the smart bet is to not put my money on you achieving a resolution or major goal for this year.

Why?

There is something else we can learn from the members of that same Harvard Business School class when they were interviewed again ten years later. The findings, while somewhat predictable, were nonetheless astonishing:

  • 13% of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84% who had no goals at all
  • 3% of the class who had clear, written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97% put together

The moral of the story is write down your goals for 2017. Get better results. Got it?

With January 1st rapidly approaching you may already be looking for a fresh start with a resolution or BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) for your career, community, finances, relationships, spirituality, and/or wellness.

According to the Statistic Brain, 45% of the 321 million Americans usually and an additional 17% infrequently set New Years resolutions. It’s important to note 38% of Americans absolutely never set resolutions because they are scared of achieving/failing, don’t know how, don’t know what they want and don’t have the self-confidence.

The sad truth is hundreds of millions of resolutions will not be actualized every year and are just glorified hopes, prayers and wishes.

Now I will shed some light on four methods to help you Never Miss a Goal (or Resolution) Again! It’s my goal that by the end of the article you are easily correcting major mistakes preventing millions of professionals around the world from achieving their goals, resolutions, and ultimately the life they see for themselves.

1. Take the Grand Canyon Test

Does your goal or resolution pass the Grand Canyon Test? Imagine you are standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon and yelled out your 2017 goal or resolution, would you be happy if you received what echos back? ‘Hoping’, ‘wanting’, ‘wishing’, ‘going to’ goals and resolutions only give back more hoping, wanting, wishing and promises for the future. ‘I am, I now, I have’ goals and resolutions are much more powerful because they are stated in the positive and present tense – that’s what we want echoing back and becoming reality.

2. Follow the ABC’s…Backwards!

Begin by working backwards through the ABCs. ‘C’ stands for clarity. Is your desired destination and outcome crystal clear? Good, you have set the goal of ‘I am 50 pounds lighter by Thanksgiving 2017’, but the majority of professionals often overlook gaining clarity on program design factors:

Time – how long will it take to reach your goal (1/2 to 2 pounds/week) and how much time will need to be invested taking the actions (i.e. meal planning, grocery shopping, exercising, etc) to achieve the goal?

Money – how much money will you need to spend to achieve your goal (i.e. gym membership, personal training session, online nutrition program, new exercise sneakers, wearable activity tracker, food from the farmers market) and do you have the finances?

Generally takes twice as long as you expected and three times the cost! Plus clients overstate their available time by 50%.

Energy – change takes energy, do you have any left to direct toward your stated goal or resolution after you fulfill your full-time professional and personal responsibilities on a daily basis?

Willingness – how committed to making the process are you and are you willing to sacrifice instant-gratification for your longer-term goal and resolution?

Equipment – what additional equipment, training, resources, and education will you need to achieve your goal or resolution?

Another excellent method for gaining maximal clarity on your goal and resolution is to send it through the acronym SMART after you have passed the Grand Canyon Test.

Ask yourself, ‘Is my stated goal or resolution…’

Specific – is there enough detail that makes this goal uniquely yours, simple to follow and motivating?

Measurable – can you measure your goal, how will you track your progress and how will you know you’re successful?

Attainable – is the goal realistic for what you have achieved before or in the prior year yet aggressive so as not to be a cakewalk?

Relevant – Why is this goal or resolution truly important to you?

Time – Do you have deadlines, dates, an upcoming scheduled event or a mapped out timeline? What days/times need to be blocked off on your schedule for taking action on your goals?

Next in the ABCs of goal setting is ‘B’ for Belief.

Our honest belief that we can achieve a goal or resolution is critical to the process. An easy exercise to qualify if a goal is appropriate for you is to rate your level of confidence in reaching it. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being highest), you should honestly rate a confidence level of at least 7 out of 10. Anything less indicates you should adjust the original goal to increase your personal belief which improves your chance of achieving your goal.

Finally in the ABCs of goal-setting and resolution-making is ‘A’ for Action.

As I mentioned earlier, most professional’s goals and resolutions are wishes, hopes and prayers. There is a Quaker saying, ‘Pray…and move your feet’. Action has to happen. One common error is only setting an outcome goal and not mapping out the process goals or actions. Think of the outcome goal as the peak of the mountain or the destination where/when the goal is achieved. The process goals are the specific, measurable actions, steps or directions that get you to the destination. Can you see how if you don’t set the course you’ll never get to the top of the mountain?! Short-term process goals also keep professionals more motivated and give opportunities for celebrating success while building momentum during the journey toward a long-term goal.

3. Determine Your Dream Team

If you have a dream, you have to have a dream team. Whether it be weight loss, a new business, or writing a book, surround yourself with people that will support you and the dream. Even if the goal, dream or resolution pursued is an independent one, it’s not wise to go at it all alone…share your goal and resolution with as many people as you can and remember that everyone uses a Sherpa to climb the tallest mountain for accountability, motivation, and support.

4. Input Doesn’t Directly Equal Output

Too many people set goals and make resolutions without considering two important factors: 1) accepting where they currently are in the process and making peace with wherever their starting point is 2) the journey of goal and resolution-achievement is not directly positive and linear – life is going to happen! Nobody anticipates or plans for the valleys and only thinks of the peaks. Identifying where you are most likely to face challenges, obstacles or get thrown off course and countering them with creative contingency plans is imperative. It is one’s internal reservoir of desire, will and health/vitality that propels an individual through the inevitable valleys along the path. Lastly notice, how after every single valley a higher peak is reached…knowing and trusting this natural process will give you the courage to embrace the resistance and understand it is only leading to growth.

Here’s to your new heights in 2017!