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Are you setting goals that you think you should? (DW#315)

Are you setting goals or making resolutions because you "think you should"? Or because others think you should?

If so, these goals are not very likely to be achieved.

Here is what some experts said in the Journal of Personality: "When goal pursuit is fueled by personal endorsement and valuing of the goal, commitment and persistence will be high. In contrast, when goal pursuit is the outcome of pressures or external contingencies, goal attainment will be comparatively less likely."

So instead of setting goals that others think you should, or that you think you should, just pause for a moment and ask yourself: if you did were not scared, doubtful or anxious, what would you like to achieve this year? If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you go for? What is your heart longing to achieve?

Write that down. Those are goals that are likely to have meaning for you and are aligned with your life purpose.

Setting goals like these are likely to help you realize your full potential....

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Know your why (DW#314)

If you are planning to achieve something significant this year, you will lose inspiration and motivation along the way. Almost guaranteed.

So what will keep you going?

People who keep going after the initial inspiration has waned do so because they recognize and remember the meaning and purpose of their goals.

In other words, the reasons WHY they set the goal as they did are front and centre in their minds. This is what keeps them going when the going gets tough.

Research in psychology shows that meaning and purpose are strong motivating factors for people. In one study, for example, two groups of mountain climbers rated the difficulty of climbing certain hills. Those climbers who had a strong sense of purpose thought that the hills required less effort to ascend and weren’t as steep as those who did not have this sense of purpose.

What can we learn from this?

If we want to achieve something big this year, we need to ask
ourselves what it means for us to get this done, to...

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Set yourself up for success (DW#313)

Many of us believe that we need lots of self-control and willpower to be able to achieve our goals and keep our resolutions.

It turns out that the people who end up achieving their goals have no more willpower or self-control than the rest of us. They achieve their goals by setting up their environment for success rather than relying on willpower or self control.

Studies on willpower and self control show again and again that the spaces and situations we find ourselves in can keep us on the path to achievement or nudge us toward failure.

So the people who appear to have lots of willpower take steps to minimize temptations rather than give their self control a workout. They put their smart phones away, they do not buy junk food and they leave their credit cards at home.

When such people want to instill a habit or start doing something new, they set reminders on their calendars, set out their workout clothes the night before and keep their food journal on the kitchen counter.

They...

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The difference between resolutions and goals (DW#312)

Most people talk about making resolutions at the new year, while some of us focus on setting goals.

What is the difference between the two and is one better than the other to bring about change and growth?

Let us take the example of health and fitness as this tends to be the number one domain of goal setting and resolution-making in January.

If you want to drop 25 pounds, it is a goal. A measurable achievement. Goals have a definite and precise endpoint. You will know when you have achieved your goal. (On a side note, when you do, it is important to take time to pat yourself on the back and celebrate!).

If on the other hand, you intend to work out 5 days a week and cut out processed foods, it is a resolution or a habit-goal. A resolution is a promise to yourself, a habit that you want to adopt, and it is more open-ended than a specific goal. It is a way to bring about a permanent change in lifestyle rather than simply a one-off event.

People who successfully make changes in their...

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Take your goals out of your head (DW#311)

What is the one thing that makes it 42% more likely that you will achieve your goals?

It is writing them down.

Here are some reasons why it is a good idea to get your goals and resolutions out of your head and onto paper.

  1. The act of writing down your goals clarifies what you really want
  2. Seeing the written goals motivates you to take action
  3. Writing down the goals gives them a concrete reality and helps to overcome resistance
  4. It invites focus by helping you to filter out other opportunities which distract from the written goals
  5. It allows you to see and celebrate your progress as you achieve these goals
  6. Writing and keeping your goals in view reminds you what you need to work on.
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A good time for a fresh start DW#310)

It is true that you can make changes and begin a journey of growth at any time of the year.

AND it is also true that there are times during the year when it is relatively easier to do so.

Dr. John Norcross (a leading researcher in behavior change) studies new year resolutions. One of his studies found that people who chose the beginning of a new year to make a positive change in their lives were much more likely to successfully make these changes than those who tried to make these changes at other times of the year.

Various experts have suggested that the reasons for improved odds of success at the new year may be:

a) the culture surrounding the tradition of making resolutions which encourages people to stop and reflect
b) the tendency to share these resolutions of change with others which helps keeps people accountable
c) the idea that people who have been thinking about changing for a while pick the new year as a start date because they are ready to move from contemplation to...

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Go ahead, set some goals! (DW#309)

Aristotle taught us that human beings are teleological creatures. Telos is the Greek work for target. In other words, human beings need something to aim towards.

Modern Philosopher Tom Morris puts it this way: "we are hard-wired to live purposively, to have direction. Without a target to shoot at, our lives are literally aimless. Without something productive to do, without positive goals and a purpose, a human being languishes. And then one of two things happens. Aimlessness begins to shut a person down in spiritual lethargy and emptiness, or the individual lashes out and turns to destructive goals just to make something happen". The Art of Achievement

As human beings we are also hard-wired to have dreams and aspirations for a better future. Without a plan or goal however, these dreams and aspirations have little chance of being realised. Worse, they can weigh on our psyche as regrets of an unfulfilled life and of unrealised potential.

So ahead, dream a little. What do you wish...

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A fixed mindset versus a growth mindset (DW#308)

A big difference between people who set goals and those who don’t is the mindset around growth and change.

Carol Dweck, author of Mindset and one of the leading researchers in the field of motivation, differentiates between a "fixed mindset" versus a "growth mindset".

With a fixed mindset, people believe that they either have what it takes or they don’t. They are not open to trying new things, accepting challenging opportunities or learning new things. They resist change because they simply don’t believe it is possible. Failure to them is a sign that they don’t have what it takes so they do not try things which they might not succeed at.

People with a growth mindset on the other hand, embrace challenging opportunities because they believe that they can only reach their highest potential by consistently challenging themselves and playing outside their comfort zone. They believe that failure is a necessary to learning and growing.

Here is what she says about...

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Completing the Last Year (DW#307)

According to a 2016 study published in the journal Memory, recalling memories can enhance our well-being and it is not only so-called positive memories that are beneficial.

The study showed that three types of memories bring about positive emotions:

A positive or happy memory: for positive memories, simply thinking about them is enough to make us happy in the present
Problem solving: Remembering a time when you successfully dealt with a challenge increases your self-esteem and sense of efficacy (the belief in yourself that you can do it)
Memories related to identity: An experience, even if challenging and painful, that shaped the person you are today.

Other studies have suggested that while it is enough to simply think about happy memories, when it comes to memories about overcoming adversity, it is better to communicate them by writing them down (or sharing them with someone) rather than just to think about them.

Coming back to our topic of laying the foundation for a successful...

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Happy January! Not in any folder (DW#306)

January is an exciting time. A time for new beginnings. Almost half of us make a commitment to making a positive change in our lives for the new year by making resolutions for self-improvement or set goals to achieve something meaningful.

For the next few days, we will be talking about goals and resolutions and what we can do to greatly increase the odds of actually keeping and completing them.

But before we do that, there is an important action that we need to take. And that is to intentionally complete last year.

Did you know that January was named by the Romans to honor Janus, the deity of beginnings and transitions? Although Janus was called upon to bless beginnings, the Romans knew that he had two faces, one looking at the future and the other at the past.

What this meant was in order to look forward, they needed to glance back at what had passed.

Many successful people and organizations today "glance at the past" by doing an "After-Action Review" to improve performance and get...

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