Did you know that the second week of January is the busiest week of the year in US health clubs and gyms? Much of this increase is related to New Year’s resolutions to “get in shape this year” but 80% of these new members drop off by the second month. That means there’s only a 20% chance that you’ll consistently use your new gym membership more than once per month.
What does this tell us about the power of our New Year’s resolutions and setting goals in general? It says that there’s quite a gap between good intentions and achieving results. In fact, research has shown that 92% of resolutions that are set fail to be accomplished. In other words, what seems like a good idea at the time often fails to come to fruition for a variety of reasons.
Michael Hyatt, whose blog I follow and recommend, had several recent posts on this particular topic. Many of the insights Hyatt shared have to do with not being confident about potentially achieving your goal, not setting realistic deadlines, or possibly stating the goals too generically.
Although all of those can contribute to such failures, I believe that there is often an acute lack of real commitment to wanting to make the change that is the heart of the matter.
Are You Motivated to Make a Change?
I was recently reminded of a biblical story about an invalid who lived near the pool of Bethzatha. These pools were renowned for their healing abilities, but this man had been there for 38 years.
When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to be made well?” – John 5:6
When I first read this, I asked myself what invalid would say “No”? But given the fact that this fellow had been able to survive this long without being cured, that was exactly the right question.
I realize that this biblical reference may seem odd to some in the context of this leadership post, but I think it is perfectly insightful about the idea of our motivation to make a change.
Often we will select a goal or resolution that sounds like a good idea, but deep down we are not necessarily motivated to really make the changes that are required to make them a reality.
For instance, I know that when it’s 10 degrees outside I am often deterred from getting off my butt and walking the five blocks to my health club, even thought I know I always feel better after a workout.
Why We Fail to Follow Through
Here are 3 key reasons I think we may fail to follow through on goals or resolutions:
- It’s out of our Comfort Zone: Whether we’re talking about the warmth of our home in the winter and how good it may feel to be curled up with a good book, or trying to adapt to new methodologies or systems, change can be very difficult. Although some refer to it as “being in a rut”, physical or systemic comfort zones enable us to engage in developing patterns of behavior that facilitate not only our comfort, but our ability to accomplish things in proven ways. There are tremendous advantages to developing these patterns, but breaking these patterns can also be a major impediment to stepping outside our comfort zone.
- An excessive need to be “ME”: In his book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith referred to this as one of the 20 habits that can negatively impact executive success. If you’re an overall high performer, but have a bad reputation for not following up on phone calls, you may excuse that by just saying that you’re too busy and the caller should just be persistent in their follow-up. If you have a hard time giving positive recognition, you may be reluctant to come off as a phony by possibly giving insincere feedback. We seek a dispensation for our behavior by suggesting that others should just overlook such habits because of all the other contributions you make to the organization. If you have a goal that confronts overcoming a habit like this, you may find it exceptionally difficult to truly commit to any change.
- You’ve “earned the right” to do it your way: We can often feel that our years of hard work and accomplishment have “earned” us the right to not conform and resist change. This is easier to get away with when you have the positional power where the organization allows you to call the shots your way – but today, less deference is given to roles, experience and titles. Your influence is often more about your expertise or even charisma. Please see my post entitled Success is “Leased” for more on this perspective.
So if you have set resolutions or goals for yourself or are in the process of doing so, please consider how each of these 3 barriers to success may impact you.
Making the Most of Your Resolutions
I am not against making resolutions, but since 92% of them fail to become reality, I think it’s very much worth our while to consider the following questions:
“Do you want to get well?” Are you really motivated to put the energy and effort into making this change?
If you’re not sure, consider passing.
If you are motivated, have you specifically identified all the outcomes / benefits that will happen if you achieve this goal?
Ask yourself and WRITE DOWN:
- How will this specifically benefit ME?
- How will this specifically benefit MY TEAM (or Family and Friends)?
- How will this specifically benefit my Organization (or community or association)?
If you are motivated and have identified all the outcomes you feel will result from attaining these resolutions, will you also do the following:
- Be sure that your goal or resolution is clearly stated;
- Share it with others and ask for feedback along the way;
- Set progress markers along the way to help stay focused (not everything needs to take a year);
- Consider an accountability buddy to help keep you on track;
- Plan to celebrate when you’ve reached your goal.
I wish you a happy and prosperous 2016 and lots of success in fulfilling your goals and resolutions.
Photo Credit: GretchenRubin.com