Did you know that a staggering 92 percent of people that set goals never actually achieve them? That’s according to research by the University of Scranton. So, why the high failure rates? It’s obviously not that the many who try to lose weight aren’t motivated. There aren’t many incentives more powerful than knowing “this could kill you.” Why then do people fail, over and over again, to achieve goals that are vital to their well-being?
If you’re like most people, then you’ve tried and failed at least a hundred times and are still waiting for that magic formula. Well, if you want to break the cycle, do what the other 8 percent of goal setters — THE HIGH ACHIEVERS — do consistently and exceptionally well.
According to a Research by Edwin Locke and Gary Latham , setting SPECIFIC goals led to a higher performance 90 percent of the time. Goals are like a lamp lighting the way– the brighter the light, the clearer the road ahead. Be specific. Avoid Vague Statements like “eat less” or “exercise more.” Have a clear idea of why you want to exercise, what you want to achieve, and how important is it for you? Planning to lose 20 pounds, for example, is far better than planning to lose “some” weight.
“It turns out that goals that set the bar for achievement high, result in far superior performance than goals that that set the bar too low”, says Dr. Heidi Grant Halverson, author of “Succeed”. “On the flip side, goals that are too difficult or impossible to reach don’t get met either” she says. “Difficult but possible is the key”. A recent study in Germany showed that only those employees who felt their work was difficult reported increases in job satisfaction, happiness, and feelings of achievement over time. “Succeeding at something hard is more pleasurable, give greater satisfaction and happiness, and increases your overall sense of well-being but succeeding at something easy is barely worth mentioning, explains Dr. Heidi Halverson.”
Unless one is fully committed to following through with what one has set to do, reasons and excuses will always pop up that will derail you or cause you to postpone actions you need to take that support your goals. “We are creatures of habit, we will follow a pattern for most things that we do in life and our behavior is automated after habits are formed”, says Marianne Van der Sluis a trained Physical Therapist and a Social Psychologist and the author of 3 Step Motivation. “For instance, getting into a car, starts with the door-handle and ends with the ‘click’ of the seatbelt”, she says. “You are not aware of all the individual steps, it is an ‘automated’ action and it saves loads of energy, imagine if you had to think about each little step every time you got into your car! It would take a lot more time and energy”.
The people that don’t succeed in maintaining a more active lifestyle simply don’t reach the phase in which your behavior becomes automated. It takes commitment, planning and consistency to create an active lifestyle. Once you’ve managed to turn exercise into a habit, you will find that it costs a lot less energy to get into action.
“It’s practically impossible to reach a goal when you don’t have any sense of how well you are doing”, says Dr. Heidi Grant Halverson, author of “Succeed”. “Should you speed up, slow down or try a new approach because you have no idea, if you’re flying blind.” “You may reach your goal by accident, she says but that is very unlikely, since without feedback your motivational system basically shuts down”. Sometimes the feed back comes from the outside world—like your coach and trainer. Often, however, that feedback is something that has to be self-generated. In other words, you have to figure out how well you are doing. Psychologists call this seLf-monitoring, and it is an absolutely essential part of reaching any difficult goal. You know why you are exercising and you have made agreements with yourself regarding your goal and how often you want to train.
Having a deadline forces one to become more focused and disciplined and creates a sense of urgency; factors that keep one driven and attentive to one’s goals. When things are open-ended and lack a time frame within which to get accomplished, they sometimes get pushed to the back burner; this often leads to procrastination and at times results in things not getting done at all. So, make sure to set goals with deadlines.