Many people set goals, especially at the start of a new year. Think about the goals you set for yourself in January. Have you accomplished what you set out to do? Do you remember what they were?
Unfortunately, the majority of people abandon the goals within 30 days.
Creating new habits requires an intention to do the work AND taking consistent action. Many times there is a failure to set up systems and structure that keep your goals front of mind.
Wishing and hoping that things will be different doesn’t make things happen. Change results when things are done differently. And, it takes time to develop a new habit. Some experts say anywhere from 21 days to 6 weeks.
Planning increases the likelihood of success. Investing the time up front to consider what is needed to make meaningful changes in your life will pay off, delivering the results you desire.
To increase your odds of success, set SMART-R goals:
Specific: Your goal needs to be clear, focused and concise. “I want to eat better” is a vague goal. “I will eat breakfast every day” is a specific goal. Consider the following questions to develop your goals:
- What do you want to accomplish?
- Why do you want to do this?
- What do you need to support you in meeting your goal?
- How will achieving this goal make a difference in your life?
Measurable: When your goal has metrics that you can chart, you are better able to track your progress along the way.
Action-oriented: Your goal needs to be focused on the results you want to achieve.
Realistic: Make sure that your goal is within reach. Many failed attempts with accomplishing goals involves things that are beyond your control. Set a goal that is within your control, in other words, change on your part can bring about results and is not dependent on someone else changing their behavior.
Timely: decide upon a timeline for meeting your goal. If you don’t currently exercise, saying you will exercise for 20 minutes per day, 4 days a week for 4 weeks may sound more doable than promising to do this new behavior forever.
Reward: incentives are great motivators for taking action. Think about how you will reward yourself when you reach your goal. Make it something that is meaningful to you (Note: I don’t suggest you use food as a reward).
Tips for increasing success:
- Get clear. Focus on one or two goals at a time. It takes time to change habits. Taking on too much at one time can lead to overwhelm. You can add more goals as you accomplish the initial ones.
- Commit to a tracking system. Decide how you will track your progress. Tracking is a valuable activity to provide you real-time information on what’s working well and what’s getting in the way of moving you towards achieving your goal.
- Define your goal period. Set a start date and a completion date. Having a deadline tends to move people towards action compared to an open-ended goal period.
- Create gentle reminders. Keep your goals in a place where they are visible. This will remind you of what you are working on regularly. Goals that are out of sight are generally out of mind.
- Be flexible. Life happens. Be prepared to modify goals and timelines if needed depending on the situation. Give yourself permission to “re-decide” if needed.
- Find accountability. Knowing that someone will check in with you keeps you more focused. This may be a trusted friend, coach, or mentor. Determine how often you will check-in and what method you will use (i.e. phone, email).
How are you doing on the goals you set at the beginning of the year? Share your comment below and let us know what helped keep you on track or what got in the way.
As the month of June comes to a close, I realize that almost half the year is gone. As Michael Altshuler says, "The bad news is TIME flies. The good news is you're the pilot."
So the question is, how will you navigate the remaining 6 months of the year?
This is a good time to pause and reflect on the first half of the year, and chart your course for the second half.
To live an intentional life, one where you deliberately create the life you envision takes planning. Making time to realign with your vision for your life provides an opportunity to assess, where you're been, where you are now, and then you get to decide where you are headed.
Why is this important? Let me share with you the 5-C's: the key reasons why it's worth your time to pause and reflect now, instead of waiting until the end of the year.
1. Celebrate. We often set goals and when we meet them, we're off and running to the next one without taking a moment to celebrate what we've just accomplished (sound familiar?). Checking in mid-year allows you to honor and acknowledge the successes you have had so far, both big and small. Make a list of all the things you can think of and then go back and review your calendar to add things to the list you may have forgotten. It may surprise you how much you've already done. Cheers!
2. Clarity. When life is busy it's sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees. You may not remember why you're doing what you're doing because you're stuck in the busyness. Making space and time to step out of the busyness allows you to see things more clearly. It gives you an aerial view; you get to see the bigger picture and remember your why for your life. Being clear on your vision for your life makes it so much easier to make decisions by asking, "does this align with my vision or not?"
3. Core Beliefs. We all have a set of core beliefs that determine the rules we live by. Sometimes we're aware of them, sometimes we're not. Assessing the year at mid-point allows you to ask, "Are the choices I'm making, aligned with the life I say I want?" In answering this question you get to see where you may be sabotaging your own success and identify hidden limiting beliefs that may be keeping you stuck (to learn how to break through limiting beliefs, see my most popular blog post, http://bit.ly/1jUnDkR). Then, you get to create new beliefs that serve your current vision for your life and move you towards it.
4. Consistency. Developing key habits and activities to support your goals is one of the most important elements in your success formula. My coach is constantly saying consistent actions bring consistent results. As you review your year so far, notice whether you have been consistent in taking the steps necessary to move you forward. This includes actions that help support a healthy you like eating well and regular exercise, in addition to actions that support better life balancing.
5. Community. Take stock in your community. Who supports you? Who are your encouragers? I have an accountability partner that helps me stick to taking the actions necessary to move towards my goals. I also have a coach and belong to a mastermind group. Yes, my life is busy but having this support system in place has yielded greater returns on my investment of time than I could have ever imagined. My coach holds the vision that I have for my life and continues to believe in it even when I get discouraged. She motivates me to get up when I've fallen and to try again. She gets it because she's been there. And having a group of like-minded individuals to serve as my personal board of directors keeps me on purpose. They have been my biggest cheering squad and also call me out when I'm making excuse to play small.
I will be spending this weekend reviewing 2014 and charting my course for the coming 6 months. I recommend realigning with the vision you have for you life at least twice per year. I make time for this activity quarterly. I've learned alot in the process and feel more and more like the leader in my life rather than feeling like life is leading me.
How often do you make time to assess where you are in life? Leave a comment and let me know below.
"Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome."
- Booker T. Washington
Last month I celebrated a birthday. I have created an annual ritual of taking the day off (birthdays really need to be personal holidays, don't you think?), to allow some time for reflection in addition to celebration. This year the process has continued for a full 4 weeks.
I thought about how much I have accomplished so far in my lifetime. And although I've achieved many milestones, what I'm most amazed by is the woman I've become in the process.
It is the variety of experiences I've had, the wins and the losses, that have shaped who I am today. As I thought about the past year and prepared for this new year of life, I discovered themes that have helped me get to where I am today.
Here is the list of life lessons I've learned that have been key to my success:
1. Practice reframing. It is easy to get discouraged when life is throwing challenges your way. I am a firm believer that there are no coincidences. Everything happens for a reason. One of my strengths is an ability to see the positive in negative situations. This has served me well; it allows me to find those aha moments that lead to wisdom. And, it greatly reduces my stress. The best part is it is a skill that anyone can learn. I teach my clients to recognize when they are looking through a negative lens and how to replace it with a positive filter.
2. Making mistakes are part of life. This is par for the course. As long as you are breathing, you will experience errors in judgment. It's not a matter of if, but when and how often. Accepting this truth can save you from endless hours of beating up on yourself after the fact. It is empowering to know that one mis-step doesn't define who you are or determine the end of your story. What helps you to move forward is a willingness to begin again.
3. Change happens, adapt. We are creatures of habit, and change whether felt to be positive or negative can be stressful. We get stuck when we resist change. It is inevitable that change will come, sooner or later. Find ways to increase your capacity for being flexible. It will serve you well when the unexpected occurs and the best laid plans fall apart.
4. Inner wisdom trumps rational thinking. Listening to my inner wisdom has never steered me wrong. The top five best decisions I've ever made were due to following my heart and a sense of knowing. And when I haven't listened, the consequences taught me the importance of letting my head be guided by heart instead of the other way around.
5. Receiving help is as important as giving help. I was born a caretaker. There is this natural tendency to want to offer help. I value this quality and yet recognize that it's become so familiar that it is uncomfortable asking for help. In the medical world, there is an unspoken rule that asking for help is a sign of weakness. I've spent the past few years unlearning this myth and taking action to get support by hiring a coach and joining a mastermind group. In this new year of life I plan to practice accepting help when it is offered, and asking for help when it is needed.
Okay, I promised five life lessons and yet I can't end this piece without mentioning one of the most important lessons (consider it a bonus): you get to define success on your own terms.
This one has been huge for me. These days success is more about how I feel and how aligned my life is with what is most important to me. My focus is shifting from what I am doing to who I am becoming.
I think David Frost says it best, "Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally."
I hope this list gives you a starting place to consider your own life lessons for success.
Leave a comment below and share what one life lesson have you learned that helps support your success?
Uplifting Women in Medicine