According to a recent article in Forbes and Business Insider magazine, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February and only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year's resolution by years end. So what's the point of making goals if most people do not have it in them to accomplish them in the first place? Well, the answer is simple, whether you like keeping goals or not, studies do indicate that goal setting, if done correctly, does have optimal results. For example, hundreds of correlational and experimental studies show evidence that setting goals increase the success rate in various settings (Latham & Locke, 2007; Locke & Latham, 1990). One study, in particular, conducted by Morisano, Hirsh, Peterson, Pihl, and Shore (2010) investigated whether an intensive, online, written, goalsetting program for struggling students would have positive effects on students’ academic achievement, and after a 4month period, students who successfully completed the goal setting intervention displayed significant improvements in academic performance (30% increase in average) compared to the control group.
So why does any of this matter?
Well, if you find yourself floundering through your new year's resolutions 7 days in, you may need to humble yourself and start over, first by simply acknowledging exactly what is (1) getting in your way, and (2) find an accountability partner or resource to keep you on track. However, if you haven't even made any resolutions, accomplishing those goals starts by recognizing what might be a stumbling block for you before you look back twenty-something days from now and find yourself part of that 80%.
I spent the end of 2017 reflecting on my life and asking myself these questions, and what I discovered was, the things holding me back from accomplishing certain goals in 2017, had also stopped me from accomplishing certain goals in 2016, 2015, etc. etc. and I would bet my money, we all struggle with similar things. Don't believe me? Check out these common areas I've often misunderstood and I believe have held me back from accomplishing my new year's resolutions and might hold you back as well too.
Lies We Believe:
- I will never be able to overcome fear.
- It will always consume me.
- There is nothing I can do to move past fear and anxiety in my life.
- Fear is bad.
Realities: Here is the thing about fear…it’s a learned trait, and like most learned traits, that means you can actually unlearn it. There is a famous passage of scripture in the bible that speaks to this reality. It reads, "God did not give us a spirit of fear but rather power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)". Which to me reads fear was brought into our lives via experiences within our world not initially within ourselves, and whether you are a person of faith or not there are studies on fear that would indicate it as a learned trait. Biblical and scientific studies, fortunately, offer practical solutions to reduce anxiety and even overcome self-doubt. Whether that is prayer, meditation, therapy, exercise, journaling, or doing something you love, fear, although a roadblock to accomplishing goals can be lessened if we simply recognize it’s existence and take practical steps to (1) believe you weren’t created to be ruled by fear, (2) recognize your spirit is built to love and your spirit possesses power and the ability to have a sound mind, and (3) by adding practical things to your daily routine you can actually lessen the amount of stress, fear, anxiety in your life, and maybe eradicate it altogether.
Lies We Believe:
- God has no time awareness.
- We can interpret the signs of the times. Therefore we should take things into our own hands.
The Reality of Time: (Exodus 9:14 ESV; Matthew 16:3 ESV) I’ve always loved the quote that says, “We have as many hours in the day as Beyonce”. Which I usually rebuttal with the ever so snarky, “I’m sure it’d be much easier to capitalize on those hours if I had her bank account too”. Well here is the reality, many of us don’t and many of us never will, but before I throw my hands up in the air defeated, there are a few things I often have to consider and ask myself. The first is, is my ability to accomplish my dreams a matter of hours in the day or a matter of timing? If you're certain it’s the right time then maybe you need to consider what is holding you back. If it's a matter of timing, maybe you have to refocus your mind and take it off of what isn’t happening and refocus our attention on the reality that there are times and seasons for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) and sometimes that simply means achieving what you desire is a progression and so you can’t become tired of waiting.
Lies We Believe:
- We don’t have enough.
- Our surplus is strictly for us.
- Riches will fulfill us.
The Reality of Resources: (Luke 8:3 NLT; 2 Cor. 9:10 NLT; Ephesians 3:16 NLT) You will never feel like you have enough resources, but open your eyes because you actually do. I love the story of Abraham in the bible and his son Issac because it teaches you a thing or two about "resources". Here is a man that has finally been given the gift of a son, has spent quite a few years doing life with him, and out of nowhere, God asks Abraham to sacrifice Issac to Him. You can only imagine the horror and fear Abraham must've experienced. How would he reconcile the promise of God (to make him the father of many nations) with the death of his only son? You see, sometimes the provision we need is on the other side of obedience. Had Abraham not said yes to the next step which presented itself as a challenge he would never have arrived at that altar and never would have experienced God's provision in the calf. What if the very resources you needed this year were on the other side of your greatest fear, and all you had to do was be obedient and take that next step?
Lies We Believe:
- I am meant to do this alone and be alone.
- Let me get mine and then I’ll give.
- Savior Complex: “I know best” “Stick to ‘our’ people” -or- You have nobody because you think yourself, somebody when you’re a nobody.
The Reality of Networks: (Ecc. 4:9-12; Proverbs 19:6; I Corinthians 9:20) Lastly, we all need and crave community. However, it's not often you see people sharing their thoughts and ideas until they perceive there are no risks. I have a lot of friends who have expressed having a fear of telling people what their goals are, and although there is definitely wisdom in that, we can't ignore the reality that many hands make for light work and support. There is so much each of us can pull from the community we surround ourselves with. Yes, putting an idea out in the open or taking that step to engage with others might be outside of your comfort zone. Or maybe you've shared an idea with the wrong person and it backfired, and so you prefer to keep everything you're trying to accomplish under wraps. however, we should also recognize we have a choice in the networks we build and the people we choose to let into our close circle of ideas. Networks can serve as excellent resources to help you get things done. You have that one idea you haven't accomplished because you didn't know how to get started, someone around you may have the skill you need to get you going.
All in all, going after any goal or resolution requires risk. So take the time to figure out what barriers might be holding you back from accomplishing yours. Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to listen to our latest episode #Goals below.
Happy New Year!