Goal-Setting or Just a Resolution?
Resolutions or Goals?
Why waste time on yet another New Year's Resolution? You know that you won't be sticking to it!
I prefer to set structured goals rather than resolutions. There is much to be said about the psychology and the structure of effective goal-setting, but this hub focuses on a technique to help you through the motivation dip that occurs quite soon after setting goals (or resolutions).
The Motivation Dip
One of the reasons people don’t succeed in achieving their goals is because of the effects of the Motivation Dip. When choosing a New Year’s Resolution, one’s motivation is quite high but somehow, over time, it doesn’t last.
Think about what happens when a person takes up a new sport or hobby or begins a new project. At first they are so motivated that they can’t talk about anything else except for their new enthusiasm. For example, when someone joins a gym. The motivation gained from actually going to the gym, getting some exercise, feeling a slight physical difference very quickly, is motivating. This is called the ‘Novelty Phase’. Then after a while, after some time has elapsed, the novelty wears off and it’s replaced by the need for hard work, which could mean getting out of bed earlier or resisting any of the temptations that take us away from the goal. It’s at this stage that most people experience a real dip in their motivation level and become discouraged. The dieter starts to overeat again, the person who chose to study gets the urge to spend the evening watching television instead, and the athlete can’t summon up the energy to go out and exercise. Sound familiar?
If you can just get through this difficult dip until you begin to achieve tangible results, then the results themselves will act as a the motivator to sustain your actions.
You should be formulating your goals in such a way so that even when you’re at the bottom of the Motivation Dip, the benefits of the goal are so clear that it entices you to keep going. Then as soon as you experience significant results your motivation rises again.
Also your goals must be written to help to crystallise thoughts, and those thoughts will help motivate the action required. Overall, goals need to be specific; positive (not the reverse of an idea); observable action (what can I see myself doing when I’ve achieved the goal?); realistic and attainable; and a challenge.
Techniques to Support Your Resolutions
But back to what this Hub is all about, a technique to help support sustaining your motivation and achieving your resolutions. This technique is called Anchoring. Firstly, let’s examine a simple way to set up a ‘calm’ anchor to help you in times of stress, anxiety, worry, etc., and then how to use the same technique to support your goals.
Setting Up a Calm Anchor
You can ‘anchor’ feelings to a specific part of your body. Once this anchor is established you can recall and sometimes relive the feelings by pressing that spot on your body which serves as a TRIGGER for these feelings. This technique merely uses the mind’s natural talent for linking things together and making associations.
The process of making associations usually happens without our conscious awareness. It is an everyday occurrence. For example, if you were to hear a song that you used to listen to many years ago, it could automatically trigger off a flood of memories about what you were experiencing at that time.
The following exercise which should only take about five to ten minutes, shows you how you can use associations to set up your very own calm anchor.
- Allow yourself to RELAX, feel comfortable and close your eyes. Use whatever process works for you whether it be breathing exercises, individual muscle tension and release, etc.
- Think of a time and place in your life when you felt really calm, confident and relaxed. IMAGINE yourself in that place. Immerse yourself in that experience, making it as real as possible by exploring that place with all your senses. - SEE all the surroundings and colours and light and shades and textures. HEAR all the different sounds and the way that they seem to blend with one another. Notice all the SMELLS of the place. TOUCH all the surroundings and experience what they feel like. Use your sense of TASTE if appropriate. Allow your breathing to become slow and deep.
- When you feel the relaxation of that experience in your body and mind, ANCHOR it to a certain part of your body; for instance let your thumbnail dig into the pad of your first finger.
- HOLD the anchor long enough to allow the association between the touch and the relaxed feelings to occur, about TWENTY SECONDS, then release the anchor.
- Then TEST THE ANCHOR and continuously strengthen the association with ongoing repetition.
Once the anchor is established, anytime you feel stressed or anxious, touch the spot in the same way with the same pressure and notice how you can recall or relive the pleasant relaxing and calming feelings. It is best to use the technique as soon as you feel the slightest twinge of anxiety and stop it before it has the chance of making you feel uncomfortable.
An Anchor to Support Your Goal
You can also use an anchor to support your goals to ensure you make it through the Motivation Dip. The following exercise should take about thirty minutes.
Close your eyes and take some time to allow yourself to RELAX.
Imagine that you have ACHIEVED A SPECIFIC GOAL to your total satisfaction .Immerse yourself in all the BENEFITS AND JOYS of such an achievement making it as real as possible exploring the experience with all your senses and then ask yourself:
- What do I see? - See and experience all the positive motivating results.
- How do I feel? - Feel all the associated wonderful, powerful, feelings.
- What do I feel? - Feel all the physical sensations. Touch your success.
- What do I hear? - Hear all the positive sounds and voices.
- What do I smell? - Experience it.
- How is my body physically different? - Feel it.
- What do I taste? - Experience it.
- What am I wearing? - See it, feel it, be comfortable and motivated in it.
- What am I saying to myself? - Say it, hear it, feel good!
- What am I saying to others? - Say it, hear it, see others react positively.
- What are others saying to me? - Hear it, see how supportive and happy they are.
- What are others saying about me? - Hear it, see how supportive and happy they all are.
- What impact will I have on others? - See it, hear it, feel it, experience it.
- What else is positively different? - Experience it.
When you feel the magic of the goal-achieving experience in your body and mind, ANCHOR it to a certain part of your body; for instance gently press your thumb nail into the side of your first finger.
HOLD the anchor long enough to allow the association between the touch and the feelings of achievement, about TWENTY SECONDS, then release the anchor.
Then TEST THE ANCHOR and continuously strengthen the association with ongoing repetition.
Now you have a trigger
So, quite simply, every time you feel a bit lazy or begin to rationalise as to why you'll take action at some later date, or why, just this once, you'll ...... (do what you don't really want to do), press your trigger and let all the benefits of sticking to your goal come flooding back through all the senses.
Wishing you all Happy Goal-Setting!