Let’s face it: We often lose the motivation to keep our New Year’s Resolutions, and by February 1st, the our plans are shot. Well, this year can be different. It is all in the planning. The key to achieving your goals is to devise a realistic plan.
Consider this formula: Mismatched Expectations = Feeling Overwhelmed = Stress = Loss of Motivation= Goal Unreached.
Now consider the opposite effect: Achievable and Realistic Expectations= Motivation = Plan Execution = Increased Motivation from Results and Rewards = Success and Goal Achievement.
According to Dr. Edwin Locke, to keep motivation alive, goals must have five specific principles:
1 .Clarity – When goals are specific and involve a time frame for completion, they are clear and create a target. For example, “I will lose 20 pounds by April 1st.”
2. Challenge – When setting goals, make each goal challenging. Realistic, attainable and challenging goals actually increasemotivation. We strive to feel proud of our success, and we are motivated by the rewards we receive when we achieve a difficult target.
3. Commitment – The more challenging the goal, the more commitment is required; the more motivated you are, the more committed you are. Keep this in mind when setting your own goals. Be honest with yourself: What do you really want and how committed are you to making it happen? Ranking your desire and commitment level on a scalefrom 1-10 may help you determine your priorities and allow you to set clear and challenging goals that are in line with your motivation and commitment level.
4. Feedback – Feedback provides the opportunity to readjust goals if necessary. Schedule a feedback time when you first set your goals and stick to it. If you are not progressing as desired, then adjust. Be open to the fact that your progress will not always go according to plan, and changes may be necessary. It is a normal process and part of long-term success. Note and celebrate any and all achievements, and acknowledge your efforts so you can continue to be motivated.
5. Task Complexity – For highly complex goals, it is important to allow yourself adequate time to complete them successfully. Complex goals, such as losing 20 pounds, must be allotted a realistic time frame, or you will become overwhelmed and your motivation will decrease.
Taking the time to implement these five principles into your goal-setting will help you succeed. Create clear and challenging targets and commit to the process. Monitor your progress periodically and make necessary adjustments. If you follow these steps, your resolutions will become good habits.
This article was adapted from the work of Dr. Edwin Locke.