Fill up on success; Goal setting for the New Year

Goal setting for the new yearAre you one of the throngs of people that make New Year’s resolutions only to find that they fall by the wayside?

Perhaps some of these popular resolutions have been on your list?

  1. Doing more exercise
  2. Losing weight
  3. Improving your diet
  4. Saving more money
  5. Pursuing a career ambition

In a survey of 1937 British adults, 30% said they would be making New Year’s resolutions in 2014. However, only 57% manage to keep their resolutions. In an earlier 2007 survey of 3000 people attempting to achieve a range of resolutions, only 12% achieved their goal.

Over the past 12 years, I have helped hundreds of clients set successful outcomes and goals and would like to share some of my tips to help you succeed in achieving your 2015 resolutions.

Limit to 1 or have several small goals

Before you jump in and make hasty resolutions, stop, take time out and think about what is you would really like to achieve or want to change.

Limit your goals. When we have lots of goals, they compete for those scarce commodities – time and energy.

It is better to focus on 1 goal or have several smaller more attainable goals throughout the year, rather than a big goal.


If you are setting out to achieve something new or different be mindful that it is for the right reasons and not because your friends, partner or family say so.

‘Ought to’ and ‘should’ are based on the expectations of other people and this will result in a half- hearted attempt, which inevitably is doomed for failure.

A strong desire for change must come from within. You must really want this.

Tip: Ask yourself: On a scale of 1-10, how much do I really want this? How much am I prepared to work for it? How much am I prepared for the consequences that it will have on my family, friends, and work?

If you rate it less than 7, you are unlikely to have the commitment and motivation to pursue it.

Make you goal a SMART one

This is a well -known acronym for what your goal needs to be:

Specific: make your goal well defined, clear and as specific as possible. Rather than saying you want to get fit, say you want to be able to run for 10 kilometres

Measurable: How will you know that you have achieved you goal? How will you measure success? For example, by taking part in a 10 K race or run

Attainable : A goal should stretch you and take you out of your comfort zone but not push you over the edge. For example, considering you age, health, lifestyle, work and home commitments, how realistic is your goal? How much time and training will you be able to commit to? Work out how you can achieve this.

Relevant: How does your goal fit into the bigger picture? Is it part of your medium or long term plans? Does it align with your values and vision

T– make your goal timely and tangible by setting a time frame or a date to it. For example, my goal will be: To complete the Jane Tomlinson Leeds 10K on the 12 July 2015.

Break it down into baby steps

Embarking on something new can be scary and often overwhelming. Chunk you goal down into the smallest segment possible. Start small, build gradually and be patient.

For example, if you are planning to run a marathon (be Realistic and give yourself enough time to train) , break it up into segments and work out a plan as to how you are going to achieve each segment within a set time frame. You might want to be able to run for 5 kilometres within 3 months, 10 kilometres within 5 months, a half marathon within 7 months and finishing with a marathon in a year’s time.

Taking the first segment of running 5k in 3 months – you could start off in the first week by walking for 5 minutes, jogging for 1 minute over a 20 minute period and build this up gradually.

Tip: Whatever you goal, scale it down to the smallest segment possible and start from there. You will be more motivated, have more control and will power to achieve it.

See it in black and white

Now you have something that is realistically achievable, try spending some time visualising it and creating a mental picture of what it will look like when you have achieved it.

When you have done that, put it in black and white. Writing your goal makes it tangible and helps to create a set of instructions for the subconscious mind to carry out. It will crystallise your thinking and will enhance your focus and motivation.

Keep adding to that vision – what benefits can you see and what difference will it make? Will it give you a sense of achievement, become more toned, wear your swimming costume with confidence…

Tip: Make a list of at least 15 benefits that you gain in achieving your goal. The more benefits you can articulate, the more compelling it becomes.

Plan for setbacks

Anticipate and identify potential setbacks and start thinking of strategies that will help you to deal with them.

Contingency planning will help you to overcome and mentally prepare for these challenges. for example, if you know that after a long day’s work you will be not be motivated to go for a run, find someone to go with you or join a running club.

Tip: make a list of all the possible setbacks that can occur and plan in some ways that you can overcome them – who can help you, what resources can you draw upon…

Spread the word

Tell other people what you are doing. If others are aware of what you are trying to achieve, they will ask you how you are progressing. This will help to keep you motivated and accountable. The more you tell others about it, the more likely you are to be committed to achieving your goal.

Seek out other people who are doing similar things. Sharing your experiences with people who are faced with similar challenges can be helpful when you are feeling low or unmotivated.

Tip: If you don’t want to share it with everyone, find a couple of people who you know will support you, cheer you, be your champion…who will be there for you

Checking in

Track your progress on a monthly basis. If you are not progressing, try to find out what the problem is. Enlist the support of those around you and be proactive in seeking help.

Allow for some flexibility in your goal. Being ill or unable to train for a period of time may set you back. You may need to reassess your goal. This does not mean failure but reassessment in light of current changes or transitions.

Tip: Keep a diary or a journal to help you record your learning, achievements, successes, setbacks and your progress.

Celebrate small successes

Aim for small wins and celebrate your success to keep you motivated, boost your confidence and self-esteem. For example, reaching the milestones of 2km, 5km, 7km….

Keep building on this success to sustain momentum and strive forward in achieving your goal.

At the beginning of this year, I took on a stretch goal and completed the Yorkshire marathon in October. Read my post, Go beyond your limit

Love to hear what goals will you be setting in 2015 and how they align with your vision and values.

  Join in Being Bold                                                            BE BOLD 2015 Twitter header

1 day programme for women giving you the skills, techniques to be bold, make changes, set impactful goals…to help them to get ahead, progress, achieve results, success and fulfilment.


About verawoodhead

I'm an executive coach, leadership facilitator and learning & development consultant working with managers and leaders to develop the skills and behaviours to inspire performance and drive results; achieve promotion ; make successful career changes, be resilient and thrive at work. Within organisations, I help to facilitate better conversations, design learning interventions which deliver practical and lasting solutions aligned to business strategy and goals. Connect with me on Twitter @verawoodhead
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