I heard some advice a while ago that made me cringe, the advice was as follows: An individual should not set specific goals for themselves, because they risk not meeting those goals and then subject themselves to failure, a trend that many people repeat year after year. Once the goals are not achieved, the realization of a cyclical pattern of failure sets in and your psyche goes down the tubes towards depression, even unethical behavior (Lisa D Ordóñez, 2015).
Hello! Failure is a part of life! If you’re not failing you are either a robot or dead! If there is one thing we do well throughout life, it is most certainly failure.
Everyone should set goals, in the book, “New Developments in Goal Setting and Task Performance” the authors propose that all living organisms must engage in goal-directed actions in order to survive. The example given is the root of a tree growing towards a water source or a plant turning leaves towards the sun for photosynthesis (Edwin A. Locke, 2013). Similarly, the organs in your body have a goal to function well to keep you alive and well; the heart needs to keep a steady beat, pump blood to your periphery, while the lungs need to exchange oxygen from the atmosphere into your red blood cells so that you can live your life.
I’m not big on resolutions, my thought is that if you didn’t have the motivation to start earlier in the year, you’re going to lack the motivation to continue with your plans at the beginning of the year. However, I am a firm believer in goal setting, especially at this time of the year and I want to help you achieve those goals, so here are four things you can do TODAY to ensure your success:
- Take Control!
- Increase your internal locus of control; your life is your responsibility and your thoughts/actions are going to dictate your success. Decrease your external locus of control; do not fall into the belief that life is about luck and happenstance. Successful people take responsibility and do not wait for life to throw them a bone, because it will not (Achor, 2013)!
- Activation Energy
- Let’s say working out, consistently, is your goal this year. Instead of putting your workout clothes as far away from the door as possible, pre-pack your gym bag and throw it in the car the night before. If you can decrease the amount of energy to make a good habit a reality, do it! Similarly, if you have a bad habit that is hindering you from reaching your potential, put it out of sight and mind, the further away or the more difficult it is to reach a bad habit, they less likely we are to engage in those bad habits (Achor, 2013).
- Social support
- This one is imperative, if you do not have a good support system; your outlook on life is likely to be a dim one. In a continued Harvard study, currently 76 years in the making, it is observed that socially isolated men die at younger ages (Lambert, 2001). You will not feel like taking on the world everyday, so get a support system to help pick you up and move you along the straight and narrow.
- Be Like Zorro!
- No, I’m not suggesting you dress in black and take up fencing (although taking up fencing would be a great physical activity). When Zorro trained, he began engaging opponents in a small, tight circle closest to him. He only moved to larger circles when he successfully concluded his entanglements in the smaller circle. Focus on the things that you CAN control and don’t let the big picture scare you away from chipping away at the small tasks in front of you.
If you are eating this information up like candy, I highly recommend you check out the references at the end of this post. Start with the presentation by Shawn Achor where he discusses the Happiness Advantage and how it can be used to make your life incredible. Follow that by reading some of the information that has been mined from the Grant Study at Harvard University.
Achor, S. (2013, Januray 1). Happiness Advantage. Retrieved January 14, 2016, from thebusinesssource.com: http://s3.amazonaws.com/ebsp/pdf/happinessadvantagen_s.pdf
Edwin A. Locke, G. P. (2013, March 1). Google Books. Retrieved January 14, 2016, from Google.com: https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=UDgKbOkYbEgC&oi=fnd&pg=PP2&dq=goal+setting&ots=CB-kHfQcTw&sig=CcIRnEke-GCF1fZHYzOkFCnoADk#v=onepage&q=goal%20setting&f=false
Lambert, C. (2001, March 1). The Talent for Aging Well. Retrieved January 14, 2016, from Harvard Magzine: http://harvardmagazine.com/2001/03/the-talent-for-aging-wel-html
Lisa D Ordóñez, D. T. (2015, June 17). Current Opinion in Psychology. Retrieved January 14, 2016, from Science Direct: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352250X15001633