By Jill Harrison – NLP Trainer and Associate
When is a goal not a goal?
When there is no ball…?
When there are no nets…?
When there are no players…or players that didn’t bother to turn up for the match?
Any of the above, really!
Most new year’s resolutions are goals that are formed with the best of intentions and huge dollop of motivation, especially with the relative excesses of Christmas indulgencies making themselves known on our waistlines along with the onset of conscience-prodding summer holiday ads on our screens. By new year many of us are ready for new beginnings; a fresh start; a healthier lifestyle.
…and then, after around 3 weeks, most (88% according to one piece of research) of our resolutions fail. We give up. We lose motivation. We don’t have the willpower. We choose instant gratification over our long-term, and perfectly genuine goals.
Now those of you who know anything about goal-setting will know that in order for goals to succeed we need to make them SMART (look it up if new to you) – don’t we? Well, yes… certainly, in order to know that the goal is do-able, and to know that we have reached a goal such as a target weight loss, going to the gym three times a week, stopping smoking…or…or…or…then of course we need to know where our goal nets are, and we need to know that the ball has crossed the goal line.
So why, then do even the most achievable and clearly articulated new year resolutions fail? And how do you go about getting that A grade in succeeding in what it is you really want? Well, according to Benjamin Zander, the world renowned orchestral conductor and inspirational teacher of music, GOALS are GRIM. While Zander acknowledges that goals are necessary as part of the process towards ‘Getting an A Grade’, they also set us up to either succeed or fail, win or lose, get there or get lost along the way.
When it comes to our personal aspirations we are more likely to recognise and celebrate small moments of success if we do not set ourselves up for all or nothing / win or lose in the first place. As an alternative, Zander encourages us to:
1 Remember that ‘It’s all invented’
All those rules – those shoulds, musts and ought-tos that limit us from becoming who we want to be are merely illusions that we take on board when we really don’t have to. Go for the desires that make your eyes light up, fill you with passion and life, and let go of concerns about what others think. In the words of poet David Whyte (from The House of Belonging) ‘Anything or anyone who does not bring you alive is too small for you’.
2 Stand in possbility
Think of yourself as already an A grade student at what you want for the new you and you are more likely to applaud the mistakes and set-backs you will inevitably make along the way and see them instead as opportunities for new learning and growth. And if it is too difficult to reach your goal…simply move the goal-posts!
3 Don’t take yourself so seriously
I have nothing to add to this. Get over yourself – life will happen anyway.
When is a goal not a goal? When it is a goal not worth having as a resolution because it is doomed to fail from the outset, because however SMART the goal is, it doesn’t fill you with the stuff that brings you alive enough to trump those moments of instant gratification your unconscious mind will demand of you before very long.
So to get the most out of your new year…set your compass in the direction of your desires, have goals along the way (as yardstick markers rather than as the destination), go easy on yourself when you do succumb to instant gratification – then check your compass direction, re-set it if you need to – and enjoy what is happening along the way, mistakes and all.
Oh, and if all else fails, try these resolutions:
1. Stop making lists
B. Learn to be consistent
7. Learn to count
Take a look at Benjamin Zander’s talk on ‘How to give an A’ to find out more: