How To Stop Your New Year Goals From Falling By The Wayside

How To Stop Your New Year Goals From Falling By The Wayside

Last week, we shared the simple, yet powerful, exercise we use to help us achieve our goals. Unfortunately, New Year goals all too often fall by the wayside before January is out because they require changes in our habits.

Habits, as we all know, are frustratingly resistant to change. But because they work unconsciously and automatically, we can tap into our in-built autopilot to bring about the changes we want.

Here are some of the techniques we use to create better habits:

1. Think Small

The classic mistake people make when setting their goals is to bite off more than they can chew. Even relatively modest changes can be hard to sustain in the long-term. So, break your goal into small steps and pick something you have a reasonable chance of achieving. For example, scheduling 30 minutes once a week in your diary when you review your goals.

2. Mental Contrasting

Researchers have found that people are far more likely to achieve goals where they believe they will be successful. That’s because they commit more strongly to plans they feel confident they can accomplish. They use a technique called mental contrasting which is described in more detail here.  The key point here is to focus on those goals that you believe you can make happen.

3. Make Specific 'If-then' Plans

The types of plans we make are often rather vague like "this year I'll get fit" or “this year I’ll be more organised.” That’s fine as an overall aim but it's much more effective to make really specific plans that link situations with actions. For example, you might say to yourself: "If I buy petrol at the garage, as soon as I get in the van I’ll upload the receipt to ReceiptBank."

4. Repeat

Just like building up a muscle, habits develop by repeating the same action in the same situation. Each time you repeat the habit, just like a muscle it gets stronger. The stronger it becomes, the more likely you are to perform it without having to consciously think about it.

5. Adjust

Everyone is different, so what works for one person may not work for another. Changing our habits is no different. If your plan simply isn’t working, or doesn't feel right, then you probably need to adjust it. For example if you’re trying to eat more healthily, could you stock up on healthy snacks once a week and make sure they’re easily to hand? (Our Passenger Seat Organiser is perfect for this).

6. Don't Suppress Your Habits

A funny thing happens when we try to suppress our thoughts: they come back stronger and we end up thinking about them even more! It’s exactly the same with habits: if you try to push a thought of out of your mind, suddenly it will be everywhere.

7. Replace Your Habits

Habits can’t be suppressed; they have to be replaced by a new good habit. Teach yourself a new response to a familiar old cue. For example, if you want to stop scrolling your phone first thing in the morning, make sure you leave it in a place overnight where it’s not going to be easily to hand when you wake up.

8. Plan Ahead

Getting in the habit of planning ahead is one of the best ways of achieving our goals. We're most likely to give in to old habits when we're feeling tired, low or hungry. Pre-commit to your new habit when your self-control is at its strongest. For example, if you want to go to the gym after work, pack your kit in a bag the evening before and put it by the front door, ready to pick up on your way to work.

Follow these steps, and little-by-little, step-by-step you’ll change your habits and achieve your goals.

What’s worked for you when it comes to changing habits? Let us know in the comments box below.

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What Are You Aiming For In 2019?

What Are You Aiming For In 2019?

There's a saying - "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail" - which we've found to be very true at Whitebox. We made a lot of changes in our business in 2018 - from moving offices to taking on a part-time MD to improving our sales processes. These changes were to help us achieve the goals we set at the start of 2018. 

The future is far too important to leave to chance which is why we believe so passionately in goal setting. Having goals gives us a clear sense of direction and a target to work towards. We use a simple, yet powerful, exercise to help us achieve our goals. It starts with writing down our long-term goals and aspirations, both personal and professional.

Here's what we do.

Step 1

Take a big sheet of paper and brainstorm our long-term goals and aspirations. These don't need to be listed in any kind of order or priority. The aim is simply to get them out of your head and on to paper. You may want to complete this exercise over a weekend, crossing off and adding to the list.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Becoming debt free.

  • Setting up an emergency fund of three months operating expenses to cover for any eventualities.

  • Paying for a big ticket item such as a holiday, a new car or van or van racking.

  • Saving for a home deposit or paying down your mortgage.

  • Building your own home.

  • Building up a pension pot for later life.

  • Investing in specialist tools and equipment

  • Getting your tools organised

  • Identifying a dream customer you'd like to work for

Step 2

Take a clean sheet of paper and list your goals in order of importance to you.

Step 3

Take your completed list and decide which of these goals are most important to you.

Are there any goals on this list you could achieve relatively quickly? Will achieving some goals make it easier for you to achieve others? For example becoming debt free (or at least having any debts under control) before starting your own business or buying your own home.

Step 4

Write your first three goals on separate sheets of paper, or in an online organiser such as Evernote, one of our favourite apps.

Step 5

For each goal, decide what are the first steps you can take towards make each goal a reality. Remember the saying: "You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." The first step to achieving your goals might start with doing some research or seeking recommendations from within your network.

Step 6: 

Set aside 30 minutes each week to review how you're getting on with your goals and plan your next steps.

Congratulations! You're now on your way to achieving your goals in 2019. 

What are your goals for 2019? Let us know in the comments box below.

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