By Jeff Shore
It’s December 31st and you’re enjoying a New Year’s Eve dinner with friends. It’s calm now; the zaniness is still a few hours away.
The plates are just being cleared when one of your table mates asks the inevitable question:
“So, what are all of your new year’s resolutions?”
Thus begins the pointless drone of hope against hope.
“I’m going to start a diet the day after tomorrow.”
“I’m going to stop procrastinating.”
“I’m going to become a better person.”
Puh-lease. Stop the insanity. Those things are not going to happen, at least not by way of resolutions based on nothing more than the proverbial wing-and-a-prayer.
Forgive my cynicism here, but it’s well-founded. Research suggests that a whopping only 8% of people are successful in achieving their resolution. So, basically, 92% of our new year’s resolutions fail.
But why? What is behind that spectacular failure rate?
The problem is that new year’s resolutions (or any other type of whimsical goal) are lacking one key and critical success component: goal clarity.
The Tyranny of the Present
If you are setting a goal, it’s presumed that the objective represents a departure from the present state.
- I want to lose weight – I don’t like the look of the “spare tire” around my waste.
- I want to increase my sales pace by 50% – I’m tired of being in the middle of the pack each year.
- I want to lay off the caffeine – my Starbucks addiction is costing me a fortune.
If I am moving to something, I must first be moving from something.
Here’s the problem: the to is an abstract, but the from is concrete.
My current state is a known reality, and therefore it is normal. By extension, my future state is an unknown, and therefore it is abnormal.
Even though the current state is less-than-desirable, it is still knowable and, to some degree, comfortable. The comfort of the present trumps the unknown of the future.
So here is the question: how can I make the mysterious future more attainable?
The Magic of Goal Clarity
The trick is to make the future a reality in your mind.
The brain has a difficult time distinguishing between reality and synthetic reality. That explains why hypnosis and brainwashing actually work. You program a new normal into your mind.
And you do this with goal clarity.
The idea is to set a goal and then simply sit with it for a time. Too often we set a goal and then immediately blast out to accomplish the first steps. We quickly find ourselves in unfamiliar territory and retreat back to the known place (the current state).
By setting a goal and then just sitting with it for a while you allow the necessary time it takes for the goal to become normal.
Goal clarity is about turning that objective into something so normal in your mind that your actions follow suit. I accomplish the goal not because of what I do but because of who I (now) am. My future state has now become normalized.
Set a goal. Pick something that is important, realistic and uncomfortable. Then set a period of time where you are just sitting with your new goal. Look at it every day, but don’t take any action right away.
Over time you will discover that the goal becomes a reality in your mind. It becomes normal. It becomes comfortable. And then it becomes achievable.
Leverage goal clarity – and you can change your world.