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How Leaders Turn Resolutions Into Achievable Goals

By Dr. Geri Markel On 

Leaders Set and Achieve Specific, Measurable Goals

Set Achievable, Measurable Goals

Leaders: Do You Achieve Your Goals?

It’s a new year and—we like to think—a new start … But do you, as a leader, have the same success rate as the average American when it comes to New Year’s resolutions ?

Here are the stats: 40 to 50 percent of Americans will make resolutions, but only 8 percent will achieve their goals. As the weeks go by, the 92 percent who let their resolutions fall by the wayside may feel discouraged, frustrated, or disappointed.

So what are the most common New Year’s resolutions—and why is the success rate so low? Most of the top resolutions involve changing personal habits, such as losing weight, spending less/saving more, enjoying life more, staying fit, quitting smoking, falling in love, and spending more time with family. The most popular resolutions for professional life include getting organized, learning something exciting or new, and helping others achieve their dreams.

Why Many Resolutions Fail

Although thoughts of a fresh start abound, most resolution efforts have basic flaws that preclude success.

First, the resolution may be unrealistic. For example, maybe you want to lose too much weight too fast. Although you feel ambitious, you don’t have the time, money, or energy to achieve success.

Second, you may be imprecise in describing your resolution. For example, statements such as “I want to do more exercise …” or “I want to get better at …” are too vague.

Third, you may neglect to foresee potential pitfalls or to make a step-by-step plan. Finally, you may allow distractions and interruptions to interfere with your best intentions.

How Leaders Achieve Their Goals9 Tips for Leaders to Get Results in Goal-Setting

Here are some tips for current or emerging leaders who want to lead the way by making their New Year’s resolutions work:

  1. View your resolutions as part of your commitment to lifelong learning and self-development.
  2. Focus on one resolution, rather than many. You may want to separate personal from professional resolutions, and to consider one short-term, easily attainable goal for each.
  3. Remember, resolutions need to be simple, short-term, and specific. Take small steps. For example, write, “I’ll walk at the gym for 20 minutes, three times a week, for one month.”
  4. Stay focused on the positive by giving yourself pep talks and maintaining a vision of the resolution’s benefits. For example, say, “I can see myself feeling and looking better as a result of this realistic goal.”
  5. Get a buddy. Supporting someone else and sharing the change experience helps you stay on track. For example, even when you feel lazy, you’re more apt to keep your commitment if you’re meeting a colleague or friend.
  6. Give yourself praise and small rewards for the small steps you achieve. Keep reminding yourself of the positive consequences of your plan.
  7. Examine potential barriers. Become aware of times when you drag your feet or allow distractions to stop your efforts. Then brainstorm strategies to keep yourself going.
  8. Create playful activities or games. For example, ask, “How many push-ups can I do each day? Then try to break your own record.”
  9. Become aware of the times when you’re able to move from good intentions to positive action. Look at what helped you get going, and try to replicate it when you feel stuck. Use the memory of small steps you’ve achieved as encouragement.

New Year’s resolutions made haphazardly are likely to fade away. But your resolutions can result in positive change if you set realistic, specific goals, and plan strategies to overcome obstacles. Here’s to your best year yet. Happy New Year!


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