About that New Years Resolution

If you made a New Years’ resolution this year but are procrastinating getting started, you’re in really good company. To pull away from the pack, read on.

9 out of 10 people who made a New Years’ Resolution in 2019 will not achieve it, according to the University of Scranton’s report in the Journal of Clinical Psychology published on January 1, 2014. And Business Insider states that 8 out of 10 people who do not succeed with their resolution will fail by February.

But coaching can be a game changer by eliminating the common barriers to success with goal setting in general, and New Years’ Resolutions in particular:

Setting unrealistic goals.

Maybe the bar is set too high, maybe the resources necessary are not available, maybe the timing is too soon, maybe detractors will sabotage it – the reasons are of course situation-specific.

People decide to make a change in their lives when their discomfort over their present circumstances has become increasingly uncomfortable, and to the point when their perception of the effort required to change is less than the discomfort they experience. The problem is, when the perception of effort is misguided or ill-informed, the goal becomes unrealistic.

Whether professional or personal, setting unrealistic goals can be more detrimental than setting no goal at all. Not only is it a major impediment to success, the time, energy and resources squandered in the process can never be recovered. It can be misperceived as poor performance, negatively affecting advancement and a sense of self-worth and/or ability to make a meaningful contribution.

Coaching helps to provide the necessary, objective perspective to help people get clear about whether a goal is realistic. And often, coaching stimulates creative problem solving to explore how an unrealistic goal might be modified to become realistic.

Getting permission from others to succeed.

It’s often said that the first step to changing a behavior is recognizing there’s a problem. The second step may be recognizing someone else has a problem with your change.

Maybe your “partner in crime” makes it too uncomfortable to stick with your goal. They become passive aggressive toward you or demean you to undercut your self-esteem or confidence to succeed in the goal you have set when it involves quitting a behavior you used to enjoy together. When the new you is now incompatible with an important figure in your life it may mean that relationship was too deeply grounded in the old behavior, rather than a genuine desire for you to experience the joy of growth through success. The other person, instead of cheering you onward, is more focused on the mirror your change holds up to them. And when they don’t like the reflection they see the path seems easier for them to change you than themselves. Their behavior may be subconscious and often too subtle to detect, making it difficult to identify and therefore overcome.

Coaching offers a sounding board to help you explore your intuitions about someone else’s sabotaging behavior – even when it’s difficult to cite a tangible action. Coaching can help you develop internal and external scripts to keep would-be saboteurs from thwarting your plans.

Allowing yourself permission to succeed.

It seems counter-intuitive that one would not allow themselves the joy of succeeding at something they disparately want. If the goal is realistic, she has the will and resources to attain it, and others are cheering her on, how could she possibly fail?

Sometimes self-sabotage dashes success because the new world introduced through a major change seems too unfamiliar. Change is hard anyway. But navigating the new terrain on the other side of the threshold can be stressful, energy draining and often lonely. In this situation, it’s easy to “relapse” and revisit the old self.

More troubling, however, is the scenario in which one cannot allow herself to succeed because she doesn’t believe she deserves to succeed. Low feelings of self-worth prevent many from crossing the threshold separating their current state from their desired state. The vision sounds good in theory, but they can never really place themselves in the new picture. “If I get my CPA then I will be able to afford my dream home. Oh, but wait – I don’t really deserve the joy of home ownership that so many others do, or a private back yard where I can entertain my friends,” they might say. And the next thought is usually along the lines of, “And anyway, I’m not smart enough to pass the CPA.”

Coaching can help erase the damaging scripts that run through our heads and keep us from keeping (or setting in the first place) the goals that propel our growth, advancement, achievement, joy and healthy self-esteem.

Lack of accountability.

Usually, when there is someone to answer to, people stay on track. It works in formal education, Weight Watchers and AA. And, accountability is a key element of achieving goals, in general, and New Years’ resolutions in particular. If one has only themselves to answer to, exceptions are easily made for deadlines missed, milestones unpassed and new habit forming behaviors. But when one has an accountability partner, everything changes.

A core component of personal coaching is accountability. At the end of every session, I ask my clients, “What’s the one question you want me to ask you next week about the progress you make between now and our next session?” By letting the client set the action and determine the “check-up” question, I help her take ownership of the action plan and responsibility for the outcomes.

Coaching differs from counseling or therapy in that it is future-focused and action-oriented. Coaching helps clients meet their goals and achieve New Years’ resolutions by co-creating action plans that work backward, step-by-step, from the desired state – goal achievement – to the present state.

If you want to achieve your New Years’ resolution this year, schedule a session with me today.

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