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Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail And What To Do About It

Goal setting doesn't have to be fraught with failure.

To want something new,
And not see why you have what you have,
Is a long path indeed.

5m read

I know. You’re tired of hearing about New Year’s Resolutions. But I promise you something new here. We’re going to turn the whole thing on its head, and that’s always fun.

What if everything you’ve been taught about goal setting left out the key ingredient? And that’s why your eyes glaze over when you hear the term.

I get it. You’ve been there, done that. But what if the problem is not with goal setting? What if the issue is a specific way you relate to it? There are enough limiting beliefs and attitudes on goal setting to fill an entire book, but in this article, I’ll reveal the most important one that’s probably in your way.

But it will only help if you do the work. C’mon, you can do it! Take five minutes right now to write out your answers to this question.

“Why do you think you don’t already have what you want?”

Write out your answers right now. Don’t edit or censor. Let it flow. And don’t read on until you’re done, otherwise, you’ll miss out on the breakthrough. Okay, ready? Here we go….

Look at what you wrote carefully and circle the following where you find it:

  • Where did you identify external factors you can’t control as the problem? E.g. “The economy hasn’t recovered” or “There’s not enough talented people to hire.” Look for this now.
  • Where did you identify the problem as being the absence of an assumed solution, and/or things you need to do? E.g. “I just need to focus” or “I need an exercise routine.” Look for this now.
  • Where did you not even answer the question and instead made inspired declarations of change? E.g. “I’ll wake up at 5 am every morning to work on X!”  or “I’ll work harder.” Look for this now.

This stuff is fine, it’s just not enough. It fails and then we dread goal setting because we experienced it as a waste of time. But that’s about to change!

We are conditioned to think about the results we have in our lives from the outside-in. Outside factors influence us, surely, but we tend to focus on them far too much, especially things we can’t control. As a species, we spend a ridiculous amount of energy focusing on things we can’t control. Just consider how often we complain about the weather! This is our default orientation.

We tend not to think in terms of how we can change in order to get what we want, but this is where the power is.

Look at the question again:

“Why do you think you don’t already have what you want?”

The most productive way to answer this question is to look inside. Find a specific attribute, belief, value, or attitude in you that your current undesirable reality is reflecting.

For example, if your money is not where you want it to be, the first question to ask is how well you’re managing it. If you’re not managing it well, the next question is “Why?” What is it about you that has you not managing your money well? Do you equate budgeting with dieting? Do you think paying attention to spending is too small or boring? Does the idea of giving up your five dollar daily latte seem like a sacrifice of your freedom?

For someone who has any or all of these beliefs, it makes perfect sense to not budget, but it’s very difficult to gain wealth without budgeting. Most people, rather than budgeting, simply pursue more top line revenue so they don’t have to address these kinds of beliefs. It rarely works. So in the above example, the answer might sound like…

Goal Setting From The Inside Out

“I don’t have the money I want because I’ve let my limiting beliefs about freedom stop me from taking financial responsibility.”

What to do next is obvious, you see? You let go of the belief. It may take some time and effort, but responsibility works.

When you take personal responsibility for your current circumstance, you have leverage for change. Assume your outer reality, right now, is a perfect reflection of your inner reality. There’s no injustice or imbalance. You have exactly what you’ve earned: no more, and no less. This requires humility and strength one rarely sees in our world.

Can you see how the outer-focused perspective is actually designed to let you off the hook? You don’t ever have to change and can complain about your lack of fulfillment for the rest of your life. It’s much easier. You’ll find many people validate your perspective, too. The alternative is that you look in the mirror and ask yourself how exactly you’ve created your reality thus far. Only then can you change it. Life rewards this kind of courage. As long as you leave it a mystery, you can expect more of the same.

Often, this is impossible to do without help. So for the month of January, I’m giving away my time to help you clarify what your real issue is. Contact me here and tell me your most audacious goal for 2017 to see if you qualify. Care enough about yourself to find out what’s really in your way. I dare you.

ABOUT JOSEF SHAPIRO

Josef Shapiro is a voice for excellence and extraordinary results in the coaching industry.

Trained first at EMyth in 2002, one of the pioneers of business coaching in the 1970s, he later joined its management team and led EMyth’s program development. He created their coach training program and trained coaches worldwide for several years.

Clear and Open is a collection of powerful online courses and real-time mentoring for professionals passionate about productivity, culture change, and business growth. Josef is a coach, mentor, and trainer for serious, driven leaders and managers who hold learning as a way of life and excellence as an intrinsic value. To learn more, and to sign up for a free, time-saving mini-course, please visit clearandopen.com