My very first personal development seminar was a 2-day affair at a dilapidated hotel in West London.  Perhaps you can imagine the scene…

100 of those metal framed chairs you always find in hotel conference rooms, arranged in rows with a 6ft aisle down the middle.  The audience is mostly British, equally men and women, predominantly middle-aged with the occasional youngster dragged along by an ambitious parent. The trainer is a bleached blonde, energetic man in his early 50’s named David.

I’m surprised to find myself here given my sceptical tendencies.  Then again, I’m sure not the only sceptic in the audience as we move into the last exercise of the day:

Goal Setting.

As I write this today I can honestly say that not one of the goals I set at that seminar happened.

I used to feel bad about that.

I used to wonder…

Maybe I hadn’t tried hard enough?

Maybe I did the process wrong?

Maybe I simply didn’t deserve the success I had imagined?

But when I stumbled upon my workbook from that, now-defunct seminar I realised why none of my goals had come to fruition.

They had stopped being relevant to me.

I no longer had aspirations to work with computers so my career goals seemed inappropriate and unattractive.

My relationship to my body has improved so I no worry about things like body fat percentage or muscle mass.

In fact, every single one of those goals would have taken me away from the things which actually make me happy now!

That’s why I never set personal goals now.

Here’s what I do instead:

1. Set directions NOT goals

When it comes to New Year resolutions… most people fail.  However, it’s not because they lack some quality which would make the resolution stick.

Nor is there anything fundamentally wrong with resolutions.

It’s just that they are too easy to break.

No-one expects you to follow through on your resolutions, so when you give it up after a few days it doesn’t really matter.

That’s why I recommend you do this in January…

Don’t head out into the New Year with some succeed-or-fail resolution in mind.  Chances are that you’ll fail if you do.

Head into the New Year with a direction in mind instead.  For example head in the direction of improved diet.  You can ALWAYS improve that.  And as long as you are always making an effort in that direction you cannot fail.

Contrast this with a resolution to lose 3 stone by summer… what happens if you get to May and you’ve only lost 1.5 stone?

Motivation disappears and the 1.5 stone you lost is undermined.

When you set directions you are always succeeding as long as you move in that direction.

Plus, if you continually improve your diet for a whole year you will be a lot healthier and slimmer by Christmas than if you aim to lose weight for the summer.

2. Be careful who you tell

Don’t tell the whole world what you are going to do.

They don’t need to know and more importantly, they won’t be there for you when the going gets tough.

And, I can promise you this:

If you want to make a real improvement in your life then it’s going to get tough.  Don’t sell yourself short by telling yourself that it is going to be easy.

It won’t.

Not if it really matters to you.

If it was easy for you then you’d have already done it.

You see, we all face our own challenges – they are unique to us and no-one will ever truly understand why we struggle the way we do.

It’s a fact that you’ll see other people sailing past your targets with relative ease.

You’ll hear people dismiss your struggles and proclaim how easy it is when you know how.

Ignore all that.

It doesn’t apply to YOU (maybe it doesn’t even apply to them).

Tell the people you love… tell the people who will support you and offer you encouragement to the bitter end.

Tell only them.

Let the rest be spectators – you don’t need them in your corner.

3. Get help

OK, let me ask you… The resolution or direction that you have in mind for this year.

Does it really matter to you?

What would you be prepared to do to achieve it?  What sacrifices would you make? Are you really prepared to give it 100%?

Or is 100% something you’re just saying to convince yourself that you will make this resolution stick?

It’s important that you’re honest with yourself now.  And I’m going to be completely upfront with you here:

If it’s not important to you then don’t do it.

SERIOUSLY.

Don’t waste your time.

You will fail if it isn’t meaningful to you.  Think about it… why would you invest all the time, energy and money that’s required to do it into something that doesn’t matter?

You won’t see it through if it isn’t meaningful to you.

So, if it’s not meaningful then stop now and have a deep think about why you were doing it in the first place.

You’ll save yourself a lot of time, money and energy.

However, if you are prepared to give it 100% and do whatever it takes then get help… otherwise you’re not really giving it 100%.

Here’s a good example:

I’ve worked with some smokers who felt that giving up smoking should be some kind of personal triumph.

In fact, I’ve spoken to many more smokers with this mindset who refused my help. 

THEY were not prepared to give it 100%.

They still smoke.

If YOU are prepared to give it 100% then seek out help wherever you can find it.


If you’d like to know how we might be able to help you then we’re happy to give you a call for a quick chat.  Use the button below to book a 30-minute telephone call and talk to an expert today.


 

4. Make one small improvement every day

Too many people think that you need to take massive action to affect real change.

It’s not true.

Try this instead… Imagine that you make one small improvement to one area your life every day this year.

  • Improve your diet by one increment every day
  • Study for a minimum of 5 minutes every day
  • Make an effort to be more likeable every day

How different would your body, mind or social life be at the end of the year?

RADICALLY DIFFERENT

And all it requires is the commitment to yourself that you will make one small improvement every day.

Without fail.

That’s the key to the whole thing – you have to be consistent in doing at least one thing EVERY DAY.

You see, when you build up momentum you become unstoppable.

It’s way more powerful than creating one massive bang on 1st January and then fizzling out by the end of the month.

Maybe you tried that already 😉

So, here’s what I recommend to make it work for you:

Make your small improvement ASAP.  First thing in the morning if possible.  Make it just for the sake of getting it out the way, if you must.

But don’t let yourself relax until you’ve made your improvement.  DON’T let yourself off the hook until it’s done.

And don’t fall into the trap of thinking…

“I’ll make two improvements tomorrow”.

We both know you won’t.

When you make that one improvement every day you quickly establish a lifelong habit – just try it out for a month or two and see how easy it is to create change in your life.

5.  Celebrate your success

This is perhaps the MOST IMPORTANT step of all.

You can do it in private or share it… it’s up to you how you recognise the progress you’re making.  But make sure that you REWARD YOURSELF for your efforts.

It’s a little piece of magic when you get it to work for you…

You see, a little-known secret about how human beings think is that we are composed of micro-personalities.  They have their own ideas and priorities for your future.

That’s why you can sometimes feel like a part of you wants to move forward but a part is afraid of the change.

However, these micro-personalities like little children that you are responsible for looking after.  To get the most out of them you need to offer gentle encouragement to yourself and reward yourself appropriately.

Which does not mean:

“I’ve been so good all week that I deserve a dessert”.

DON’T FALL INTO THAT TRAP

That’s obviously counter-productive if you’re trying to lose weight.

Select your reward upfront just like you would with a child and make sure it aligns with your direction of change (or at least won’t interfere with it).

  • “I’ll go to the gym for an hour then I’ll treat myself to a movie at the cinema”
  • “I’ll spend 1 hour working on my CV then play games for an hour”
  • “I’ll fill out 10 questions on my internet dating profile then treat myself to a biscuit”

Make sure that you agree the reward with yourself first and don’t reward failure or laziness.  Be just as responsible with yourself as you would be with a child you are taking care of.

These 5 simple ways to make yourself awesome this year are incredibly powerful… but they are CUMULATIVE.

Practice them every day this year and just see how different your life is in January next year!

 


About the Author

Matt Cullen is a Clinical Hypnotist, Speaker, Author and the Founder of Unchain Your Mind.  His techniques and philosophy of personal development form the backbone of all the change work that happens here.