New Year, New Goal Setting Strategy

by Betty Lochner on December 31, 2010

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. ~ Tony Robbins

Just another blog on New Year’s resolutions? Not!  This step-by-step strategy will help you actually achieve your goals. Really.

It comes down to this – making New Year’s resolutions and setting goals is great. But what really makes a difference is making a step-by-step plan to reach those goals.

Make a Plan

1)      Write down your goals.

This is the first, and most important step. A study of Harvard graduates showed that the percentage of graduates that accomplished goals that they didn’t write down was close to 5%.  So you have a 95% better chance of reaching your goals if they are written. 95%!

2) Make your goal specific – then chunk it down.

Make your goal as specific as possible. Add numbers and dates and milestones.

Then, break down your goals into steps. Write a step-by-step plan for each goal and write your steps in the first person:  “I will do this by then.” Include as much detail as you can.  Think about how you are going to do it and what steps are needed to get there. How are you going to reach each step?   Use a calendar to track milestones and keep it visible so you can see it daily.

3) Use “If, then” planning.

For example, “If it’s 5:00 pm, I leave work for home.” “If it’s Tuesday or Thursday at 7:00 pm, I go to the gym.”  “If I’m hungry, I have a piece of fruit.”

This strategy seems simple. But studies show it really works.  It helps us take action toward meeting our goals.

4) Tell someone your goal and ask for support.

Going public with your goal is a powerful motivator. Make sure you share it with people who you trust and who will support you.

5) Visualize the outcome daily.

Give yourself permission to see your goals turn into reality. Think about what the results will look and feel like. Picture yourself reaching your goal. Do this daily.

6) Evaluate and adjust.

Don’t give up. If your plan isn’t working as well as you’d like, evaluate what’s going well and what isn’t and make an adjustment.

7) Celebrate your successes!

At each step you make towards your goal, celebrate!  Set up milestone rewards that are worth working for. Some of my rewards have been a really nice glass of wine, an overnight trip to the beach, or a new sweater. Think about what represents your goal and have some fun with it.  Then mark off the days on calendar as you work toward your reward.

So, what happens when you set a goal and don’t take the time to make a plan? Usually nothing.  You think you’ll use your willpower and resist temptations, but that is a strategy doomed for failure.  Better to try a plan that works!

What goals do you have for 2011?


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of  Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home.

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