3 Lessons Learned From Failed New Year’s Resolutions

February 13, 2018

Every January 1st approximately four out of ten people make New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, a third of resolutions are broken by February 1st. In discussing this trend with an insurance agency owner over lunch this past December, he confided with me that he and his team did not have sales goals and he was using January 1st as an opportunity to start fresh and have each member of his team list out their goals for 2018.

I shared with him my personal experience. I have always been one of those four people making a New Year’s resolution and in past year’s many of my resolutions have been broken long before Valentine’s Day.  However, I have found my success rate has improved significantly when setting goals if I follow the following three principals:

  1. Write it down – In the movie, Field of Dreams, the mantra was if you build it, they will come. When setting goals, the mantra is if you write them down you will achieve them. Dr. Gail Matthews a well-respected psychology professor at the Dominican University in California completed a comprehensive study on the science of setting and achieving goals. In her study, Dr. Matthews found you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams simply by writing them down on a regular basis. I recommend writing down your goals and posting them in a space you visit regularly such as on the refrigerator or your desk monitor. The constant visual reminder will help you prioritize your day in a manner to best reach your goals. I place an index card with a list of my goals on my desk and update my progress on a quarterly basis.
  1. Be Patient – According to a study in the European Journal of Social Psychology completed by Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, it takes 66 days on average to form a new habit. In James Clear’s research on the study he stresses that it is ok if you make a mistake once in a while as long as you focus on the process. One of my goals this year is to utilize technology in every prospect meeting. I have not always succeeded in this effort but as I continue to push myself towards that goal, the process is slowly becoming a habit and I am becoming more comfortable and proficient using technology tools in meetings. 
  1. Find a Coach – In Dr. Matthew’s study, she found that individuals who sent written goals to a friend accomplished significantly more than those who did not write action commitments or did not share their goals with a friend. Every year I share my new revenue goals with a sales coach and we revisit them on a regular basis. My coach holds me accountable and provides guidance when I am struggling with my goal. I would encourage you to find a coach – it could be a co-worker, friend, or paid consultant. Although we do not always like being held accountable, it will drive you towards hitting your goal.

You may have blown your 2018 New Year’s resolutions or perhaps you never set any goals this past January. It is never too late to hit the start button and write down your goals for self-improvement.