want to succeed in your resolutions? be specific

Happy New Year, welcome to 2011! What have you got planned this year?  Forget the notion of New Year’s Resolutions for the moment, so many people have negative associations to that concept and just think what you want to achieve this year.

Apparently, if you are into Astrology and the Law of Attraction and all that jazz (and if it works for you, then why not?) today, with the solar eclipse and a few other planetary movements, is the best time to plan and focus on your future and the changes you want to make in 2011.

Most people I speak to who fail in making resolutions last (or any changes for that matter) fail for one reason: They are not specific enough in their goals. They have some vague notion of something they want to do in some hazy far off time in the future. No wonder they don’t achieve it, they don’t really know what they want!

Before you even think about planning to make the change or achieve the goal you need to create a realistic, detailed and compelling goal. How many people dash off and join the gym with some fuzzy idea of “getting fit” or “losing weight” just to give up after a few weeks or even days?


It always makes me think of the SMART model that I had rammed down my throat when I was studying management accounting. I hated it at the time, because I only associated it with a work context and over eager managers banging on about it. But now I find it an invaluable checklist when planning my own goals or helping others do the same. For those of you that don’t know, SMART is an acronym for:

Achievable (I will come back to this)
Trackable (similar to Measurable really? I reckon they just tacked it on the end to make it sound good. The “SMAR” model isn’t a great name…)

make your outcomes well formed

In NLP there is a similar model called the “Well Formed Outcome Model” which enhances, reinforces or adds to the SMART Model. It is as follows:

1. Stated in the Positive
How many of the things you want to change start with “I want to stop…” or “I don’t want to do..”? Rephrase it into the positive, what is it you actually WANT?

2. Initiated and Maintained by the Individual, ie YOU

Do you really want to do this? If not you probably won’t succeed!

3. Defined in a Sensory Basis
When you think about the goal you need to vividly experience it, what do you see, hear, feel, smell, taste when you think about it?

4. A Feedback Mechanism
How do you know you are achieving the goal? That you are heading in the right direction? You need a test.

5. Ecology Check
Is what you are doing having a positive (or neutral) effect on the world around you? Or, if it has a negative effect, are you doing your best to mitigate the results?

finally: be bold!

You know in the SMART model the A stands for Achievable? Forget that! Be bold in your goals, even if you don’t actually achieve the end result I guarantee you will have got much further than any “achievable” goal you set. The problem with setting an “achievable goal” is that you will be tempted to set one that is well within your comfort zone and won’t stretch yourself enough.

The knack to setting bold goals though is the set achievable and realistic timescales and sub-goals. If you want to loose 10 stone, great! Just don’t expect to do it by next Tuesday. Set a smaller more realistic set up sub-goals that you can measure along the way (like mile markers), so in this example, maybe an sub-goal of 2 pounds a week may be a good one.

a little bonus

Here is an interview I did with Channel M a few years ago about New Years Resolutions:

Click here for my top tips from last year’s blog post on resolutions.

need a little extra help?

If you want any help planning or achieving your goals for 2011 please contact me to discuss my coaching sessions.

I wish you the best of luck and every success in your resolutions!


About Matt Caulfield