Almost half of American adults make one or more New Year’s resolutions every year and fail. That’s probably the reason that the other half of the population doesn’t even bother. Keep reading, and I’ll show you why so many resolutions fail, and give you a strategy to ensure that they stick!
The most common resolutions involve weight loss, exercise and smoking. I see this first hand in all of my speaking engagements. When I give the audience a chance to make commitments, the vast majority of commitments they make are for their health.
I remember speaking at an elite producer’s insurance conference, Forum 400. Attendees had an opportunity to share commitments for actions that they needed to take to reach their goals. I expected to hear about putting on seminars, prospecting for strategic alliances, meeting for financial reviews with their high net worth clients, gift tax and trust opportunities or succession issues. Instead what did I hear?
“I’m committed to losing weight.”
Problem No. 1: There’s no specific goal One reason that commitments don’t turn into long-term habits and actions is because the commitment is not specific enough. My precision probing model will solve this. It’s simple. For every commitment you make, business or personal, ask yourself “who, what, when, where” and then add the word “specifically.”
Let’s get back to the common goal, “I’m committed to losing weight?” When I hear this, I ask the client to give me specifics.
“How much weight, specifically, do you want to lose?” I’ll ask. If the client answers, “I want to lose forty pounds,” I’ll keep asking for more information. “When, specifically, do you want to have reached your new weight?” The client might say by the end of the year. At this point, we both have a better idea of what the client is trying to achieve.
Problem No. 2: The picture is too big
But there’s another problem with New Year’s resolutions: often, they center on long-term goals. For the client who wants to lose weight, thinking about the end of the year is too far out. The most attainable goals are short-term and involve many small steps. So, I ask the client, “What does this mean for this week?”
Let’s say the client replies that he would like to lose one pound. This seems reasonable, so I ask “How are you going to do this?” The client responds with another vague response, “I’ll eat less and exercise more.”
Any time you hear the words “less” or “more,” qualifiers, challenge them with the precision probing model. In this case, I would focus on one thing, exercise. “What specifically will you do for exercise this week?”
The client says, “I’ll work out five times this week.”
Problem No. 3: The goal isn’t realistic
As a coach, I could go several directions on this one. What don’t I know? What does the client mean by “work out?” However, to save time, I’ll take a different route. I’ll check for reality. “How many times did you exercise last week?”