Peter, lecturer-in charge of management and executives and career management at the University of New South Wales, explains techniques to achieve your goals
Every year most of us make New Year resolutions. Eat healthier. Practice regularly. Invest more in valued relationships. Learning a language. And so on. Often these are the same resolutions as last year.
Why do our resolutions often disappear so quickly?
A main defendant in this annual rollercoaster of optimism and disappointment is overconfidence in the power of our intentions.
Read more: The guide of a behaviorist for the good intentions of the new year
The excitement of a new year (and perhaps the fruit of celebrating too hard) is a cloud that recalls a difficult fact of life: good intentions easily evaporate without leaving a trace of everyday experiences such as exhaustion, seduction and long-standing existing habits.
Fortunately, academic research can help to set goals. Studies over several decades have identified some effective ways to overcome these common obstacles to realizing your plans.
Beyond SMART goals
It is known (and also true) that the intentions of the new year will be achieved earlier if they & # 39; SMART & # 39; to be:
- Specific (about exactly what you want to achieve)
- Measurable (with clear progress indicators)
- Feasible (in view of your available resources, limitations and other priorities)
- Relevant (for what you value the most)
- Time-bound (with the specific date on which you strive for a completed mission).
Creating SMART goals is a good start. But the chance to realize your resolutions will be improved by building what I & # 39; target infrastructure & # 39; call it – that is, means that make it possible to achieve goals.
Below are three powerful ways to build a target infrastructure.
1. Link your goals to your cherished values
Useful insights on how to do this can be drawn from a study of how an objective program can help struggling students improve their academic performance.
The study involved 85 students from McGill University in Montreal. Participants who received the targeted intervention answered questions about their ideal future, qualities they admired in others, things they would like to do better, things they would like to learn more about, and habits they would like to develop.
Then they developed and prioritized the goals they wanted to achieve before they wrote about the specific positive effects that they thought would achieve every goal in their lives and the lives of those they care about.
Compared with students in the control group, those who participated in this targeted intervention significantly improved their academic results four months later.
Why not brainstorm about your own answers to the questions of the study participants?
Then develop a convincing reason to work stubbornly to achieve your goals or goals with the highest priority by answering the following questions:
- What benefits do I expect to have in order to achieve my goal?
- how can achieving my goal improve my life and / or the lives of those I care about?
Write down your answers and place them where you will often see them.
2. Create implementation intentions
Implementation goals complement SMART goals with details about when and how you will act to achieve your goals.
Two types of implementation intentions are:
- if-then-plans (& # 39; If situation X occurs, then I will be Y & # 39;)
- when-then plans (& # 39; When situation X arises, then I will be Y & # 39;).
For example: & # 39; If I feel angry by an email, I wait until the next day, if possible, before I send my reply. & # 39; Or: & # 39; If it is 5.27 am, I have left the office for the gym within three minutes. & # 39;
Hundreds of studies have shown that deciding in advance when and how you will act according to your goals will help you start and avoid being derailed by fatigue or other distractions. As a result, goals are more likely to be achieved when accompanied by the intentions of the implementation.
3. Set mutual accountability
What is measured is managed! This rule is especially valid if you feel responsible for acting in accordance with your goals.
The Agile software development methodology includes mandatory morning stand-up meetings where team members openly answer the following two questions:
- & # 39; What did you do yesterday? & # 39;
- & # 39; What are you going to do today? & # 39;
If you know that you will answer the first question tomorrow, you will get more attention for what you are doing today. Why do not you try this for a week, see if it works for you?
Another way to make use of the power of mutual responsibility is to work together with someone else (ideally different from a life partner) who is also serious about complying with their resolutions.
SMS or e-mail what you do every day for a month (swim for example 1 km, do not open e-mail after 8 pm, no screens after 10 pm, call a friend, do 50 pushups, pray for 10 minutes).
Then, in a short telephone conversation, talk to each other at the same time each week whether you have met all your daily obligations in the past week. Make no apologies and do not provide any explanation. Just answer & # 39; yes & # 39; or & # 39; no & # 39; about whether you have made any commitment.
The expected satisfaction to & # 39; yes & # 39; to say against those planned questions, as well as the powerful drive to avoid having to admit failure, can be a powerful motivator to keep yourself on track.
Of course there is no magic wand to make your good intentions for the new year come true. But if you are serious about making a change, play with the possibilities to discover what & # 39; target infrastructure & # 39; works for you.