The Power of Goal Setting — Commit to a Better You

Happy New Year!!

The start of a new year is always marked with possibility, resolutions and healthy habits.  I believe that people truly start out with the best of intentions, and while some succeed…most end up falling back into their old habits before the end of the month. We can see this if you walk into any health club in January and will have a hard time finding a treadmill while 6 weeks later it is more barren than the Sahara dessert.

So, why is it that people’s good intentions sometimes aren’t enough?

In 1979 there was a study conducted on students in the Harvard MBA program. The students were asked, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” Only three percent of the graduates had written goals and plans; 13 percent had goals, but they were not in writing; and a whopping 84 percent had no specific goals at all.
Ten years later, the members of the class were interviewed again, and the findings, while somewhat predictable, were nonetheless astonishing. The 13 percent of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent who had no goals at all. And what about the three percent who had clear, written goals? They were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent put together.

In spite of such proof of success, most people don’t have clear, measurable, time-bounded goals that they work toward.

What Can You Do?

When I ask people if they have weight loss or health goals, many do but just like the study shows very few of them ever write them down. For most people this is actually a scary process…if I write them down it means I actually have to do something about them. This is exactly the point…writing goals down makes your nervous system and physiology engaged and makes you more committed to achieving them.

It is also important what language you use. A statement such as “I am going to try and lose about 5 lbs” is very open and frankly “wishwashy”.  It means that you are going to put something down because you feel like you should, but you are not going to make it too concrete so there is nothing holding you accountable to attaining it.

What if you were to switch that goal to “ I MUST lose 5 lbs by the end of January.” And..what if you read this goal every morning, and also came up with 3 action steps as to how you are going to do this.  Which goal is going to make you more inspired?

The second step to this is that everyone needs someone to be accountable to. This may be a friend, family member…but more often this is a professional that will push you to new limits and encourage you to set higher standards.

Your Action Plan

Do this for yourself, make 2009 the year for lasting change…your deserve it!!

  1. Write 2 goals using positive and encouraging language that commits you to moving forward. For example: “I MUST lose “x” pounds by “x” date”
  2. Set a short term and long term goal (I would set the long term one for the end of 2009), write or print them out and post this in an area where you and everyone else can see your level on commitment.
  3. Read this every day, and become excited about the person you are committing to becoming!!!