Resolutions, targets, and goal setting are the common buzzwords at the start of every new year, quarter, and month!
With so many strategies out there it can become a bit confusing: are resolutions/targets important and do they even work? Is there even a point to set them? Research shows that by the 6-month mark only about 46% of resolvers maintain their resolutions. Research also shows that successful resolvers had more cognitive-behavioural processes, such as behaviour reinforcement and conditioning, memory, attention, and reasoning, but fewer awareness-generating processes, such as self-reflection and feedback processing, and emotion-enhancing processes like appraisal, feelings, and reactivity, than non-successful resolvers.
Although some can get great results from resolutions, it isn’t the best long-term solution. Co-founders Matt Caldaroni and Chris Caldaroni broke down better alternatives in this episode of the Difference Maker Podcast.
Here are the top takeaways.
1. Know basic human psychology first.
As human beings, we do things to avoid pain and gain pleasure. Human behaviour is driven by behaviours that we think are moving us away from pain, and closer to pleasure. Therefore, if you want to stay consistent with your targets, then you must understand that the only way to maintain your behaviours is by understanding the consequences of taking action, or not taking action. When trying to change behaviours, most of us only look on the surface level and see the effect of the behaviour (the action you take), rather than understanding the cause (the pain you’re avoiding). Start with going deep by asking yourself, “By accomplishing these targets, how will my life get better? If I don’t push myself to take action on these targets daily, how will it negatively impact me, my future, and those around me?”
2. Get disciplined, not just motivated.
All of us are motivated, in fact, if you weren’t motivated you wouldn’t be here right now! We gain motivation by having a vision and purpose, or something that compels and excites us with an emotional meaning, to take action on. The problem most of us face is that our motivation can be temporary! Let’s face it, you’re not going to feel like taking action every day, it’s part of being a human being! The best of the best though, the ones that truly are top performers, are able to take action even when they don’t feel like it.
Enter discipline. Discipline is built by first understanding how not taking action will cause negativity in your life, making you feel positive stress or eustress. The key is to feel that pain on the days you don’t want to do something. Simply asking yourself, “what am I giving up in the future?” when you don’t want to take action can quickly snap you back into a place of momentum. Focus on the true consequences of your actions so that you can push yourself, even when you don’t feel like it.
3. Make a choice of what you want in life.
If you really want to set meaningful targets for the year, then you must have a vision first. A vision is an image of what you want to create, and who you want to create, over the course of the next 5 or more years. Often, there aren’t numbers involved. Most of us live “year to year,” and although it’s necessary, you must have something that you’re building that’s bigger than just a year in length. Here’s a real example from one of our pro athletes:
"Over the course of the next 5+ years, I want to":
Be a player on this team that’s impactful and has a leadership presence
Be a player on this team who’s considered a franchise player
Be a player on this team that the organization respects, even outside of the game
Be a player on this team that can be the face of the organization
Own a big house in California
Live by the water
Be married with kids
The point of a vision is to be a north star that guides you to where you want to go. It doesn’t have to be specific with numbers and such, but instead must be a visual of what you want to create and who you want to become. Simply list out what you want to accomplish over the next 5+ years and describe it: that’s the power of a vision.
4. Set proper targets.
Not just targets, but proper targets! Setting targets must be seen as a tool that allows you to keep focused over an extended period of time. If you set them, then you must stay focused on them! Simple. But most of us set them, and forget them. Once you have your vision set out, you’re ready to take a step toward it over the next year! This is where yearly targets come into play. At Molliteum, we use a method called TPA’s, or targets, purpose, actions. When setting a target you need a purpose to keep you motivated and actions to allow you to take steps forward! More often than not we see people set their targets, but don’t know which actions to take first. Then they get frustrated because they simply don’t know how to accomplish what they want. Start with what you want, and why you want it, then ask yourself, “What are the 3 actions I must take to accomplish this?” Once you cross one action off your list, simply add another action until you reach your target. You’ll be amazed at how much this speeds up your progress because it forces you to think with a solution-focused mindset.
5. Use challenges, or resolutions, as a fire-starting tool.
Challenges are a great tool to start you on a journey of accomplishment, but they shouldn’t be your long-term strategy. A simple 10, 20, or 30-day challenge can really get you to lock in on the task at hand and polish off any habits that haven’t served you. At Molliteum, we suggest using a 10-day challenge, if you’re going to pick any of these tools, but it comes with rules:
Rule 1: build habits, not results - focus on the actions you want perfect in these first 10 days. That means setting a specific action that has a specific time next to it. For example: wake up (action) at 6:00am (time).
Rule 2: use this as a runway, not your landing strip - challenges are meant to help you lift off, that’s it. They help you get into a mindset so you can accomplish what you want, but they’re not the only strategy for your end result.
Rule 3: go for perfection - the most important part of truly utilizing a challenge is to go for perfection. This is probably the only time being perfect is okay because during this time you want to maximize your results. If you slip one day, then start over. No excuses, no wiggle room.
To wrap things up: we only suggest challenges, or resolutions, as a tool that is used to start your process of growth. For the long-term solution, you must have a vision, TPA’s, and understand the basic human psychology of pain and pleasure. Listen to our podcast episode where co-founders Matt and Chris dive deeper into each topic.