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Christmas has come and gone and here we are at the end of 2019. A new year and a new decade beckons. What it will hold for us is, as yet, not known for certain. Which is why this time each year is popular with people who are persuaded to actually design their life going forward rather than leave it to chance. As the great Jim Rohn once said, “Life best lived is life by design“.

Which is where New Year’s resolutions come in. Many people make them and a large percentage break them before the first week in January is over; often bemoaning the lack of willpower. So, I thought that this final Weekly Tip of the year/decade should have a quick look at how to set a well formed resolution that gives you more chance of success. Interested? Then read on.

As most of you know, I have a real interest in NLP; that’s neuro-linguistic programming for the uninitiated (and it’s brilliant!). Part of NLP is knowing how to set a well formed outcome and I’m going to borrow some of its principles in the form of SMARTER objectives. I’m sure that you have heard of these, but they have stood the test of time. So, let’s look at what a SMARTER objective is and especially the bit that actually reduces the need for willpower!

In his work, The Achievement Accelerator, David Shephard of the Performance Partnership reveals that the acronym stands for:

S – Specific/simple. If you are going to set a goal make it very specific. Just saying “I want to lose weight” or “I want to earn more money” is general, not specific. It is loose and flabby language that provides you with a get out of jail free card. So, be specific about how much weight you want to lose or how much more money you want to make etc. Also, you need to make it simple so that your unconscious mind will be able to follow what it is you want to do. Remember, it is your conscious mind that sets the goal and the unconscious mind that sets about achieving it.

M – Measurable/meaningful. You will need measures in place that tell you if you are making progress to wards your goal. Make sure that you have some sensory measures about your goal; what will you see or hear? How will you feel? What will you smell or taste? You know I said above that many people give up on their resolution because they lack willpower? Well, there’s something more important than willpower. The key is having ‘whypower’ and that’s what the meaningful bit is all about.

I believe that if your resolution goal is meaningful to you it will reduce the amount of willpower you will need to call upon in order to achieve it. You see, willpower is what you need when you don’t have enough ‘whypower’. Ian McDermott, one of my great NLP tutors, argues that:

“Meaning and purpose take us beyond ourselves, they raise questions about what really matters to us. And when you start asking questions about them you invariably find the answers involve something bigger than you. This is worth doing because as soon as you have meaning and purpose that are aligned with your values you become much more energised. Purpose is like a compass; it helps you stay on track.”

A – Agreed/achievable. To increase the likelihood of success you will probably need to enrol the help and support of others. So, anyone who is going to be involved with you should agree with the goal. This will almost certainly include family and friends. It may also include work colleagues, medical or financial experts. The second A is to believe that the goal is 100% achievable. Yes, 100%. Anything less than 100% might mean that you have a limiting belief that will make you less than totally resourceful and hold you back.

R – Realistic/responsible/resourced. As with achievable, you must 100% believe that your goal is 100% realistic. Again, anything less might indicate a limiting belief that you have. Let’s just briefly look at the difference between achievable and realistic. I have a goal for 2020. I want to win the Wimbledon Over 60’s mens’ singles tournament. It’s definitely achievable as I am over 60 – yes really! But it’s probably not realistic as I haven’t played tennis for at least 30 years.

responsible outcome is one that you are personally responsible for achieving and one that you have the necessary authority to do so. This then leads to you knowing, and having, the necessary resources. This includes both tangible (money, time etc) and intangible (support, confidence, encouragement etc) resources.

T – Timed. A specific time frame gives you focus. There is no such time as ‘as soon as possible’. Again, it’s flabby language. Nuff said!

E – Ecological. An ecological goal is one that is in balance with the goals that you have in the other areas of your life. For example. many people have a goal in their professional life that works against a goal in their personal life. A desire to climb the corporate ladder might mean long hours, which conflicts with their goal to be a great partner or parent. Also, it seems to me that a goal that is not ecological somehow gets resistance from other people or the environment.

R – Reviewed. Linked to being measurable, your resolution goal will need to be reviewed to assess your progress. This might be weekly or monthly. The timing or the review will obviously depend on whether the goal is short, medium or long term in its focus.

So, there we are. If you are going to set yourself a resolution for 2020 I recommend the SMARTER framework. I have found it provides clarity and focus. And, as Ian McDermott suggests, if you align it to your purpose it will have meaning and ‘whypower’ for you that eats willpower for breakfast!

On behalf of the Eagle Training team may I wish you a very happy and successful New Year. If we get the the opportunity of working with you it will be our pleasure to bring all the passion and commitment that we have to you.