It’s reset time — time to start fresh with an opportunity to get it right this year. This is the time when we set new goals with the hope of making positive changes stick. This time is fleeting, however, and often lacks staying power.
Unfortunately, 64% of people abandon their steadfast New Year’s resolutions by the end of January.
It’s time to ask ourselves, what isn’t working? What can we do to make a real change in 2023? The good news is: successful change only takes a few simple adjustments to your approach. Right now, you have the energy to charge ahead with renewed purpose, so it's the perfect time to get started.
In this article, I discuss why you should:
- Only pick one goal (too many goals diffuse your efforts)
- Identify the activities that will help you achieve that goal
- Commit to those activities and measure your outcomes
- Stick with your activity goals to achieve your desired result
Are you ready to start fresh and get it right this year?
1. Pick One Goal
It’s no secret that most New Year’s resolutions are centered around diet and exercise. The top New Year’s resolutions for Americans in 2023 are to exercise more, eat healthier, and lose weight. Most of us write these exact same goals, year after year.
More often than not, we spend the end of the prior year reflecting on what we hate about ourselves and then commit that this year, this year, will be different. However, we inevitably fail to achieve these steadfast assertions because our effort is diffused. And why wouldn’t it be? No one has the time to attack multiple areas of improvement in their lives, especially when the whirlwind of daily life and work has such demands.
Here’s the first trick to success: don’t set multiple goals. Pick one thing that you’d like to improve in your life. Choose something challenging, yet attainable. And don't be vague — give yourself a specific way to measure your success.
If you want to see progress, focus on just one goal in the New Year.
2. Choose an Activity
Once you’ve picked your goal, you must decide what activity or activities will get you there. Let’s say losing weight is your goal. Whether it’s hitting the gym or cutting carbs, determine what actions will help you get there.
There is a fantastic book called The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney. McChesney spends quite a bit of time focusing on the difference between a lag measure and a lead measure. A lag measure is the result you are trying to achieve. However, a lead measure asks you to measure the activity and effort you are putting into a goal. The most important idea here is that you can CONTROL a lead measure; you can directly impact it.
In business and life, we often focus on the desired result (profits, product quality, customer satisfaction) rather than the actions that will lead us to that outcome. We put all our gazes on the goal and then muddle through the activity, hoping to get to where we want to be.
To reach your goal, you must figure out what you're going to do to get there and how you'll measure it. Let’s say your goal is to lose 20 pounds in four months — that's the lag measure. What activity will you pursue to achieve that goal? A lead measure would include plans for how you will burn calories on the treadmill or count calories throughout the day to curb how much you eat.
3. Determine How You’ll Measure Success
In business, many companies focus on metrics waiting for the monthly report to come out, hoping they hit their number. When the metric isn't achieved, what happens then?
Results can be reliably achieved when you identify the activities that will lead to a result and MEASURE THE ACTIVITY.
The concept sounds obvious when you say it out loud, but it takes deliberate work to get this right. We are often vague in both life and business.
"We must work harder, improve, and get those numbers up!" But that’s vague, vague, vague! Or when leadership says, "Do better!" Better how? What does that even mean?
Think of your New Year’s goal as a KPI and your activity and measurements as the metrics you’ll use to track your progress. Going back to the weight loss example, “I want to lose weight” sounds great, but is too vague for a measurable goal. Set yourself up for success by making it specific. “I want to lose 20 pounds” is a great start, but by when do you want to lose that weight?
Let’s say, “I want to lose 20 pounds in 4 months.” Now that's something we can measure! Losing 20 pounds in 4 months means you’ll want to lose 5 pounds per month. Once you’ve established what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it, it’s crucial that you track your progress.
4. Track and Record Your Results
According to the Mayo Clinic research, a pound of fat is roughly 3,500 calories. Keeping it simple, a treadmill walking pace burns an average of 250 calories per hour for someone that weighs 150 pounds. It will take 14 hours on a treadmill at that pace to burn one pound of fat. That equals 70 hours per month on a treadmill or 17.5 hours per week to make the 5 pounds per month pace. If you run, that cuts the time by roughly two-thirds to 6.3 hours per week.
How will you track the activity? Walking for 17.5 hours a week or running for 6.3 hours per week will yield the result you want, all other things being equal.
- Your lead measure goal is 17.5 hours a week of walking or 6.3 hours a week of running.
- Your lag measure, the result, is stepping on the scale after 30 days and weighing 20 pounds less.
Your goal is to lose 20 pounds in 4 months, which equates to 5 pounds per month. Whether it’s walking or running, schedule your treadmill sessions and stick to them. At the end of each month, check your progress and record it. Mentally celebrate hitting every lead measure goal because you are working towards something bigger.
The same principles apply in both life and business.
This goal-setting mentality should permeate every part of your life. Stop focusing on the end result; back up and determine what action you need to take.
Identify activities that achieve the desired result and how you will measure those activities. The monthly report should be a check-in validating that the activities are achieving the desired result. There should be no surprises on the metrics if you are accurately measuring the activities and hitting your activity goals. Stick to your activity goals until the time arrives to assess your progress—at that point, you can continue on with the action or decide to adjust your lead measure.
Pick a Goal and Stick To It
Most people fail at sticking to their New Year’s resolutions and goals because of a few simple inefficiencies. They make too many goals and have nothing to keep them on track when life gets distracting again.
To succeed: pick one goal, figure out what you’ll do to reach that goal, and then track your progress!
The same concept can be applied to business goals. A Business Technology Assessment (BTA) can help identify inefficiencies and pinpoint the actions needed to achieve your company's primary goal. Don't set a vague goal for this year and then muddle through the activity. Get an action plan in place.
That’s it! The concept is simple but it makes a difference! So, go forth and do great things!
Ronnie Hay is the Marketing Director for UBEO.