The Coaching Corner Blog

New Year's Resolutions Don't Work, But This Approach Does!

I am sure you are inundated with commercials, videos, emails and social media posts about starting a new years resolution or doing some challenge. Don't be fooled by these schemes and "get results quick" messages about achieving goals. You will only be disappointed. Why? Well for starters, attaining goals is a process. Second, researchers in a study at Scranton University found that 92% of people who make New Year's resolutions will fail! Also, bloggers, coaches, and influencers serious about the efficacy of goal modeling and who know about the psychology behind goal attainment will tell you there is more to successful goal achievement than just wanting to accomplish a task and doing a quick challenge. Even our Reid Ready Challenges take time and focus on the process not just he outcome. Unfortunately, New Year's Resolutions and quick challenges focus more on what you want but not how to specifically carry out strategic tasks to achieve your goal. Also, most messages focus on the end-result and not the process.


Another miss in the message is the approach to achieving a goal. Every person is unique. So, what makes it hard for you to achieve a goal could be different for me. New Year's Resolutions and some goal challenges don't consider individual differences, motivation levels, and variable resources between people as an important factor in your ability to achieve a goal. With that in mind, it's important to understand what can get in the way for some, but not others. Here are the top 5 reasons people fail achieving any goal, which differs from person to person:

  1. Not being specific and clear about what you want to achieve

  2. Not setting up a reward system that ignites and maintains your commitment and motivation

  3. Trying to achieve too many goals at once; doing too much

  4. Not having sufficient support, quality resources, or external accountability

  5. Fear of change; fear of failure or success


Most people are familiar with the SMART goal approach: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound. This is a helpful model, but it falls short in key areas, such as being actionable and tapping into how you can optimize your resources and get support, or maintain your motivation. When I coach my clients around attaining goals, I focus on the process, their thinking/perception, and how they want to approach achieving goals. Therefore, I modified the SMART approach and created an improved framework called SMART-R™: Specific, Meaningful & Measurable, Actionable & Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound, and Resources. I know, that's really SMMAART-R. But, that's just too many letters. But, you get the key point. The purpose of my modification is to close the gap the traditional approach left open.

By making your goals meaningful, you increase and maintain motivation. Also, implementing a reward system and identifying how you can reward yourself when when you reach a milestone will help you stay committed. Studies have presented data confirming when you reward yourself you are more likely to remain motivated and find meaning in working on a goal. Additionally, when you know what you are working towards and why, you are more likely to complete your goal. Making your goal actionable means to focus on small, specific tasks that you can do to achieve your overall goal. Therefore, creating micro goals or tasks that works toward your bigger objective makes goal attainment manageable and easier to tackle. Finally, adding resources establishes support, accountability and ensures you have encouragement along the process. These small tweaks have shown valuable for my clients in successfully attaining their goals.

Also, here are a few more valuable tips to help increase your chances of success:

  1. Write down your goals and use the SMART-R™ framework as a guide

  2. Be clear, specific and strategic in how you approach the goal attainment process

  3. Ask yourself why you want to achieve this goal and what it will mean once you accomplish each task

  4. Ask yourself what do you need to achieve your goals and what resources you have or must secure to get started; who can hold you accountable

  5. Only work on one major goal at a time and ensure all tasks or actions are directly related to the overall objective with set milestones for each task/action

  6. Come up with a plan on how you will reward yourself at each milestone

Finally, goal attainment is a psychological and physical process that requires commitment, faith in yourself, and key supports. It is important to focus on the long-term plan. Meaning, think past what you want and the endgame, and focus more on what you require and how you want to achieve your goals. Understanding what motivates you and making your goals fun goes along way and surpasses New Year's Resolutions!

Was this article helpful? Let me know!

Get 30% off my coaching program and see how I can help you achieve your 2020 goals. I also hold a monthly group coaching session so you can get support and the accountability you require.

Dr. Dawn C. Reid, aka Coach Dawn, is coach for coaches and an accountability partner for wifepreneurs and professional women in a life or career transition. Coach Dawn helps mindful women maintain successful businesses by leveraging community relationships, reducing stress, and integrating their professional and personal spaces by identifying, clarifying, and achieving SMART-R™ goals.

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