Set Goals (Not Resolutions) This New Year

It’s the time of year that many of us look ahead and set New Year’s resolutions – but honestly, how often do we succeed in keeping to them?

More importantly – why not?

The answer may lie in the dictionary – according to the Oxford Dictionary a “resolution” is a firm decision to do or not to do something or a formal expression of opinion or intention.

So, setting a resolution is a thought process – “deciding” or “intending”.  What is missing is ACTION.  We can set a resolution to go to the gym more often, or to eat healthily, but we need to act on the resolve in order to succeed, and this requires motivation to action.

The first step is to set a well-formed goal – I have previously written about the APROCESS model for setting goals here

Here is a reminder of the process.  Ask yourself these questions and be honest about the answers.  If you find this difficult, ask someone else to ask the questions 

Aim What do you want?  What do you REALLY want?
Positive……….. How is this a good thing for me?  What is the positive “pay-off” (make sure this is what you want, not what you don’t want)
Resources…….. What do I need to achieve this goal? This could be people, money, skills
Ownership…….. Is this goal really yours?  How will you maintain ownership and motivation?
Consequences.. What will happen if you do not achieve this goal?  Be clear about the negative consequences
Evidence……… How will you know you are making progress?  What will you SEE, HEAR and FEEL?  Really go to town on this!
Specific………… Is the goal specific enough?  Can you focus on it without too many distractions?  Do you need to break it down into smaller steps?  If yes, start again with smaller “chunks”
Start…………… When are you going to take the first step?  When do you expect to be halfway?  What date will you have accomplished the goal by?


In order to ensure that you have the motivation to act, really spend time focussing on the “A” and “P”.  Ideally you should look to elevate the goal from something you feel you “should” do or something you “need” to do, to something that you want.

To illustrate the motivating power of wanting something – think of something you own a lot of – this could be anything, but lets take shoes as an example.  Let’s say you own many pairs of shoes – how many of these do you actually need?  So what made you buy the rest?  It was doubtless because you wanted them?  So if you want something, motivation to act is not a problem!

As coaches we spend a lot of time converting “should to” and “need to” to “want to”.  A simple way to do this for yourself is look at the goal beyond the goal, and the goal beyond that, until you reach something that you really want. To do this, each time you come up with a goal ask:

“If I had that, what would that get/do/achieve for me that’s even better?”

After a few rounds of this you will feel your motivation rising.

For example

  • I should eat more healthily
  • If I did that my clothes would fit me more comfortably
  • Even better than that, I would feel more confident
  • And that would mean I would go out more with friends
  • And as a result I would be having fun and meeting new people

This individual now has a real reason to want to succeed and the rest of the goal setting process can be used to define the goal, make it specific and define actions.

If you would like assistance in setting goals for yourself you could either:


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