One of the biggest mistakes people make in setting their goals is that they focus on their yearly goal.
For example, when 2018 is about to end and 2019 is about to begin, people are excited with the idea of the new beginning. It gives them hope that they can start again and set something to achieve by the end of 2019.
Of course, we know that their New Year resolution is not going to work out, most of the time.
According to a study done by Scranton University, only about 8% of people who set New Year resolution successfully achieved them. While the rest, the 92% fail at it.
This shows us something that we should take note on. And that is setting a yearly goal doesn’t really work.
Yes, you read that that, this is why I’m here to tell you NOT to focus on your annual goal. Instead, focus and put your energy on something else.
So why most people fail to accomplish their yearly goal? The reason is simple to understand…
Your Yearly Goal is Too Far Away
Yes, waiting for a year to reach your goal is just too far away. When we set a goal, we want to see the result immediately. And if you need to wait until a year only to see the result, it will be too late by then.
You will have abandoned and forgotten the goal by the end you reach November or December. Some people already quit and give up on their goal when they get to February or March.
This is why a yearly goal may not be the best solution in helping you reach your dreams.
You need something more concrete and something shorter to focus on.
You Cannot Predict the Future
When a goal requires a long time to realize, highly likely, it is not going to happen. This is because we cannot predict the future.
Can you tell what will happen within a year? No, you can’t. While it is true that we don’t have a crystal ball that can tell us what will happen, but a shorter goal is much more predictable than a longer one.
For instance, do you know what will you be doing tomorrow? Well, still, you can’t predict the future, but there is a higher chance that you can plan on what will happen tomorrow than a year from now, right?
This is why when you set a goal that has a long time frame like a year, you will lose your focus in between.
You simply cannot predict what will happen.
There Are Too Many Distractions
It is absolutely possible to focus on a goal for a few minutes, a few hours, and a few days. Can you focus on a goal for a few weeks? Yes, some people are able to do so, but mostly can’t. How about a few months? What about a year?
The longer it takes for you to see the results and for you to hit your target, the more likely you are going to be distracted by things going on around you.
You can set a goal to lose weight and you can even come up with a plan to hit the gym 3 times a week. The problem comes when there are just too many distractions around you to ‘seduce’ you to do something else rather than going to the gym.
You may even say to yourself, “well, it is alright if I skip the gym for a day, right?”
You know that when you don’t hold the accountability, your goal will break down and you won’t follow through your plan anymore in the future.
Do you understand now why it is difficult to achieve your New Year resolution or yearly goal now?
Long-Term Goals Give You Direction
Now, I have to admit that long-term goals like your yearly goals can be helpful. They can serve as the lighthouse in your journey and show you the right direction where you should go.
However, the long-term goal is good in showing you ultimately where you want to go. It is not going to tell you what you need to do today or tomorrow to get there.
That is the job of the short-term goal.
Imagine if you want to drive in the dark from point A to point B and the distance is 100km away. Identifying your target of getting from A to B is your long-term goal.
And when you are driving in the dark, your car’s headlights serve as the short-term goal. You don’t have to see the entire route, you just need to be able to see clearly the road that is in front of you, and you are able to drive safely to reach B.
What most people lack when it comes to achieving their goal is the headlight, the short-term goal.
Create Milestones for Your Long-Term Goals
You need to be able to understand what you need to do in the short-term in order to achieve your long-term goal.
Therefore, set milestones for your long-term goal. And more importantly, focus on reaching your milestones, not your yearly goals.
Your short-term goals or milestones are the targets that you need to achieve within 1-3 months.
Let me ask you a question, do you think it is easier to focus on a goal for 2 months or a year?
The answer is obvious. People are able to focus on the shorter-termed goal rather than the longer termed goal.
Therefore, the secret to achieving your New Year resolution is to focus on your short-term goal.
What you can do is to break your yearly goal down into smaller milestones to be achieved within 1-3 months, and then focus on those.
Results Boost Your Confidence and Increase Your Motivation
One of the vital reasons we should focus on our milestones is that our milestones are easier to reach, and thus, this gives us faster results.
And when you can see the results you are getting, you become more motivated and more confident in reaching your goal, sounds good?
“People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed. Similarly, when someone is failing, the tendency is to get on a downward spiral that can even become a self-fulling prophecy.”Tony Robbins
Yes, success works in a cycle. When you see the results, you become confident and motivated. Thus, you put in more effort because you started to believe that you can do it. And of course, with greater effort, you produce more results. And the cycle continues…
If you want to understand how success works, read my previous article, Success Cycle: How to Leverage Small Success to Build Bigger Ones.
What You Can Do to Achieve Your Yearly Goal
Now, I understand that you want to achieve your New Year resolution. And I know that you are absolutely committed to reaching it, right?
Well then, here are a few suggestions what you can do to help you achieve your targets:
1. Focus on the short-term
You have learned that you simply can’t focus on a long-term goal like your New Year resolution. Hence, break down your long-term goal into milestones and focus on those.
When the deadline of your goal is too far away, it means that you open up yourself for all kinds of distractions and possibilities.
Thus, focus on the short-term, not the long-term.
2. Focus on progress and not results
Next, the second thing you need to focus on is the progress, not results.
James Clear is a successful blogger and recently, published a New York Times Bestseller book, Atomic Habits. Here is what he said about focusing on progress:
As you know, I publish a new article every Monday and Thursday. Since my first article on November 12, 2012, I’ve never missed a scheduled date. Sometimes the article is shorter than expected, sometimes it’s not as compelling as I had hoped, and sometimes it’s not as useful as it could be … but it gets out to the world and into your inbox.
The results of this simple schedule have been amazing. Our little community has grown, seemingly without effort. We now have over 1,100 people (welcome friends!) who are committed to living a healthy life and who are actively supporting one another. Onwards to 5,000 strong!
Imagine if I had set a deadline for myself instead, like “get 1,000 subscribers in 12 weeks.” There’s no way I would have written every Monday and Thursday and if I didn’t reach my goal, then I would have felt like a failure.
Therefore, put your effort on the progress. It is your progress that gets you to your goal.
3. State your actions with specificity
There are many studies have been conducted on how to be consistent with your plan. And one of them shows that by stating exactly when and where you are going to carry out your action actually boost the probability of getting the task done.
For instance, people who say that they will exercise at 7AM on Tuesday at the park are more likely to make the event happen than people who just say they want to exercise.
Specificity promotes action.
Hence, use the format to state your actions: I will [ACTION] at [TIME] in [LOCATION].
Here are some examples:
- I will read Atomic Habits for 30 minutes at 8AM tomorrow the first thing I arrive in the office.
- I will workout for 60 minutes at 9PM this Sunday in my local gym.
- I will write a 500 words article at 3PM on Saturday in the cafe nearby.
When you state your action steps this way, you make it clear to your mind of what action to take, by when and at where.
It helps you stick to your plan and to reach your goals.
4. Measure your progress
Another good technique that you can use to ensure that you follow your plan throughout is to measure your progress.
People who usually don’t measure their progress will never know if they are making any.
And if you can’t tell whether you are moving forward or backward from your goal, you will never reach it. Successful people measure their progress.
I suggest you read this:
Goals tracking is one of the most vital factors that will determine if you are going to reach them or not, especially for your yearly goals.
There you go. Now that you understand why most people fail to achieve their New Year resolution and yearly goal, so use the techniques here to join the 8% group.
Actually, setting the goals is the easy part. The most difficult part is in achieving the goals. It is doing the work and following the plan, consistently, day-in and day-out, that stops most people.
Thus, learn the technique to fight procrastination. When you get rid of procrastination and you put yourself into the action mode, you become unstoppable. You greatly increase your chances of achieving your goals.