At the start of every new year, many people create resolutions or goals for the New Year.
At the same time, most people also give up on these goals well before the end of the year.
Having worked in industries whose sales are driven by New Year's Resolutions, I can tell you exactly when people give up.
It’s March 15th.
Sales in these industries skyrocket in January with some spill-over momentum in February. By early March, sales drop like a rock.
Over the years, I’ve found two very simple ways to achieve goals that you can use to achieve your goals this year.
1) Don’t just set outcome goals, set process goals.
An outcome goal would be something like: lose 10 lbs (4.5 kg) of weight by the end of the year.
A process goal would be: go to the gym three times per week or make your own lunch (instead of eating out) five times per week.
2) Schedule the activities in your process goals in your calendar.
So instead of saying you’ll go to the gym three days per week and hoping it happens, you get out your calendar and set three recurring appointments for yourself to go work out.
For example, you might schedule gym workouts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6 pm.
The rest of the process is quite easy. Just follow your calendar.
Now let’s examine why this works.
First, to take an outcome goal and convert it into a process goal, it requires you to identify a mechanism to achieve your goal.
To lose weight, the two most common mechanisms are to eat differently (change your body’s energy inputs), or to change your activity/exertion level (change your body’s energy consumption).
To achieve your goal, you need to think about which mechanism makes the most sense for you. Are you going to change what you eat? Change your activity level? Or both?
If you’re a salesperson and you want to earn an extra 20% in sales commissions this year, you have a few mechanisms available to you:
a) get more new customers (customer acquisition)
b) sell the same number of new customers more expensive products (upsell/cross-sell)
c) sell more to existing customers (repeat sales)
The creation of a process or activity goal forces you to choose a specific mechanism to achieve your goal and how often you will use it.
Finally, you want to calendar your activities in advance.
If we had unlimited time and energy, we could achieve unlimited goals. However, our time and energy are limited.
If you want to get something done, you must devote time and energy to it.
Typically, this means that something else must be sacrificed to make room for your new goal.
If you’re forced to make the sacrifice decision every day, you will get decision fatigue. It just takes too much energy.
However, if you use the secret of “recurring meetings” in your calendar, you’re forced to make the tradeoff decision up front for the whole year.
If you’re going to work out at 6 pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, that means you have to move or cancel what it is you currently do at 6pm on those days.
The key is to make this decision once for the whole year, not 156 times per year (3 times per week x 52 weeks = 156 decisions).
If you want to be a better spouse, schedule date night once per week for the whole year and do it today.
If you want to be a more skilled professional, schedule an hour every Wednesday night devoted to professional development activities. Put that on your calendar today.
If you want to get better at Excel, schedule 30 minutes every Tuesday evening to work on spreadsheets that are difficult for you. Put that appointment on your calendar today.
A goal without a change in time and activity is merely a dream.
A goal with changes in your calendar is called a plan.
High achievers don’t have dreams. They have plans.
(Re-read that last sentence a few times to let it sink in.)
If you’re a high achiever and found this article helpful, I invite you to learn more about my Inner Circle mentorship program, where I teach my members skills like this that help you to be a rising star in your career.
You can submit the form below to be included when I send emails about my Inner Circle, and to be notified of the next enrollment period.