How about a better new year’s resolution?

The last two weeks we’ve all been bombarded with New Year’s goals. They’re all over the place with status updates, tweets, Twitter polls, blog postings, and news articles. Now I’ve never been a hardcore New Year’s goal setter, I always have a few in mind and by the end of the week of the first week in January I’ve probably forgotten them and by the 3rd week I’ve likely given up on them completely.

Does this sound familiar?

I wanted to know if it was just I. Do I lack the simple self-discpline to stick with my goals? According to 2008 research study by Stephen Shapiro and the Opinion Research Corporation in Princeton, NJ:

Number of people that make New Year’s resolutions/goals
• 45% of Americans usually set New Year’s Resolutions
• 17% infrequently set resolutions
• 38% absolutely never set resolutions

Success rates
• 8% of people are always successful in achieving their resolutions
• 19% achieve their resolutions every other year.
• 49% have infrequent success
• 24% (one in four people) NEVER succeed and have failed on every resolution every year

Types of resolutions set
• 34% set resolutions related to money
• 38% set resolutions related to weight
• 47% set resolutions related to self-improvement or education
• 31% set resolutions related to relationships

The younger you are, the more likely you are to succeed
• 39% of those in their twenties achieve their resolutions every year or every other year
• Less than 15% of those over 50 achieve their resolutions every year or every other year

So what’s the problem? Why do people continually set new goals when they know they only have a 1 in 4 chance succeeding? Is it a lack of commitment? Lack of self-confidence? Lack of planning? Lack of management? Lack of Energy? Lack of support?

Or is it too many goals? Too many obstacles? Too much to do in a day? Too many “I’ll get to it tomorrow”?

Maybe some of these are the reasons, maybe all of them are. I believe most New Year’s resolutions/goals lack a proper plan and process achieve them. If people are serious about achieving a goal they need to be serious in the time they spend to achieve it. This begins with the proper road map and a plan.

Sidenote: If I have to hear the term S.M.A.R.T goal one more time I’m going to lose it. Yes the acronym works because I remember it so I’ll give credit to George, Arthur and James. But talk about beating a dead horse. . . and then kicking it again once it’s on the ground.

Goals are great, but goals aren’t what you do to accomplish them. To “accomplish” a goal you need to a process to create the a successfull outcome. The process I use in my everyday life is ADDIE (analysis, design, development, implementation, evaluation). It’s a simple process used by instructional designers and workplace performance practitioners (whose purpose is to help make the workplace more effective – surely it can work for new year’s goals too).

Analysis
The first step is to clarify the goal, establish the objectives (these are the action items that complete your goal). Some questions to ask yourself:

• What is your expected outcome?
• What obstacles might you face(self, external, environmental)?
• What have you done in the past? Did it work? Why or whynot?
• What methods/ways can you achieve your goal?
• What is the deadline for completion?

Design
The second step is designing your plan. This should be a very specific plan with dates, ranges, times, calories, time required. If you can’t give your plan to someone else to duplicate with the same results then it’s not detailed enough. This document describes the structure and strategies you will use.

• Document your strategy
• Design your activities (a blended approach is significantly more effective)
• How will you evaluate your success? Will there be periodic updates/check-ins?

Development
The third step is where you create and assemble all the materials/tools/parts needed that were detailed in the design phase. Tools are purchased. Memberships are purchased. Vacation time and dates are requested. Research into programs is conducted. You don’t start your actual goals yet. Think of a hamster hoarding food in its cheeks getting ready to eat during winter.

Implementation
The fourth step is the fun part and where you’ll spend most of your time. This is when you follow the plan you made in step two. Take the materials/tools/parts you got together in step three and use your design plan to start achieving your goal. Essentially – put your plan into action!

Evaluation
The fifth step is determining how you did. Notice I didn’t say final step because you should be constantly evaluating your progress. After you do your analysis you’ll ask yourself if you thought of everything. After you design your plan you’ll ask yourself if this is something you can really do? After development and gathering your tools you’ll ask if you got everything you needed. The most evaluating will occur during your implementation. There should be lots of evaluating – perhaps on a daily schedule? Weekly? Monthly? Don’t wait until your deadline to see how you are doing.