The new year is inevitably accompanied by resolutions and good intentions. But you won’t achieve your goals without help and a bit of planning. Ian Dinwiddy of Inspiring dads is here to help.
It’s that time of the year – ‘New Year, New You’ But where to start?
Whether you call them Goals, Objectives or Resolutions , whether you like them “Big and Hairy” or based on simple daily habits, unless you do the preparation and ground work your goals simply won’t stick. Depending on what those goals are, this could be a problem when you consider that while you judge yourself on your intentions, others judge you on your actions.
No one wants to let others down and it’s not great to let yourself down, after all there’s probably a very good reason you choose your goal!
Like a cub scout going to his first jamboree to give yourself the best possible chance of success you need to be prepared.
Let’s start with some home truths. “Goals” on their own mean very little. What I mean is that they need to be embedded into your life and they need to serve your broader objectives. So that goal “I want to eat healthily in 2020” isn’t really going to last the distance.
When I start working with a new one-to-one client, one of the key bits of homework is a “Be, Do, Have” exercise. The client spends some quality time writing down what type of person he wants to BE, the things he wants to DO and possessions he wants to HAVE. It creates a vision of the ideal future.
Armed with this knowledge and self-discovery they can then create goals that work for them. Not goals that sit in isolation and not driven by what you think you ‘should’ achieve.
Once you have a framework of what is genuinely important in your life you can start to create your goals. I’m going to remind you of the SMART framework and introduce you to the “4Ps”
The SMART framework has been around for well over 50 years – some of the terminology changes but it’s a good place to start.
S – Specific (goals need detail)
M – Measurable (how else are you going to KNOW you’ve achieved them?)
A – Achievable (not much point setting a goal that can’t be achieved)
R- Realistic (they need to stretch you without demotivating)
T – Time-Bound. (a goal without a date / time is just a dream)
P – Personal (It’s important for your goal to include “I” – you need to visualise yourself achieving something and it helps create accountability towards yourself)
P – Positive (Moving towards to doing something. “I will to stop smoking” is a badly worded goal, in part because stop is negative term)
P – Present Tense (Not future tense. So no reference to “I will” but “I am” is good, so too is “I have”, especially if you choose a time or date immediately after completion of your goal)
P – Possible (like the realistic above only you can judge this – some stretch is important for goals but not so far outside your comfort zone to feel unachievable.)
When you use a framework to write your goals you end up with something that might look like this: “It’s 10am on Sunday 5th July 2020 and I have just completed my first sub-25 minute 5k park run”
SMART and the 4Ps aren’t the only frameworks for goal setting, I recently came across HARD which stands for Heartfelt, Animated, Required and Difficult. You can read more here about it here
Every journey begins with one step, and goals are no different. Once you have your goal, you need to decide what ACTION has to happen first and get very specific about when you are going to take the first step. Manageable and achievable steps build up into meaningful progress.
Think about what milestones or “journey” goals you can insert
It’s important to anchor your goals in your life. Phone reminders, post it notes, blocked time in your calendar, checklists – experiment with ways to remember what you have decided to do.
Motivation is vital – be really clear on what your motivation is. “What’s in it for me?”
What happens when you achieve your goal? Equally important is to consider the impact if you fail. It’s very common to be motivated by trying to avoid what you don’t want, rather than being motivated by the end result. Know what your motivation looks like for that goal – sometimes the most powerful motivator is fear of failure. For instance – “I don’t want my life to be boring” is subtlety different from “I want my life to be exciting”
On a personal note I have goals with a mix of motivations, some are driven by avoiding an outcome (I don’t want to be a fat, “used to be good” hockey umpire) and some are positive – to build a business that provides income to build the ‘perfect’ kitchen extension.
It’s important that your goals aren’t just personal. No man is an island and this is only magnified when you have a family. Forging a narrow personal development path is a sure fire way to relationship breakdown.
Three questions I like to ask my clients:
1. What will be the impact on other areas of your life when you achieve this goal?
2. Is it right and fair on those around you to pursue this goal?
3. Accountability – who are you going to tell about your goal?
Remember to celebrate your successes!
Ian Dinwiddy is Founder and Director of Inspiring Dads – a coaching business specialising in supporting men with their work life balance.