Kallum Russell : Why Do Basic New Year’s Resolutions Not Work?

Did you set New Year’s Resolutions this year? If so, have you broken any yet?

If you’re like a lot of people, then you’ll promise to do things such as: eat healthier, get fit, quit smoking and so on. And then you’ll break your Resolutions in February or March, but why is that?

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Your intentions are good, however, it takes more than uttering an off-the-cuff set of Resolutions once (whilst possibly under the influence of one too many fizzy drinks!) to achieve your goals!

After all, that is what New Year’s Resolutions are: goals.

“The real problem is that goal setting is a process, a system, a habit and not a one-off action!”

What New Year’s Resolutions Are You Making?…None!

By all means, eat healthier, join the gym and give up smoking but if you want this to continue for the rest of the year, after your initial enthusiasm has faded, then you’ll need to adopt a disciplined approach to your goal setting.

I don’t set New Year’s Resolutions, instead I practice goal-setting each and every month and I’ve done this since June 2013, when we launched Acorn Enterprise.

Can you imagine the reactions I get at New Year’s parties when people ask me what New Year’s Resolutions am I setting and I respond with “I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions, instead I commit to making, working towards and achieving goals every single month”?! Obviously people think I’m a total….legend!

No-one Really Does Goal-Setting, Do They?

The phrase “goal-setting” seems to put people off, in my experience.

I first encountered it at High School, when the teachers told me what grades I was to aim for and this was my “goal”. Perhaps this was their goal for me as it certainly wasn’t mine – this completely goes against what goal-setting is all about as it needs to be set by you and not someone else for you!

Goal-setting then re-appeared when I was at University, in a module called “Marketing and Management in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)”, and I remember thinking: no-one actually does this, do they? The concept of setting goals, monitoring your efforts and attaining them was so abstract to me, I just didn’t believe people did this…ever!

Like a petulant child that refuses to go away, goal-setting appeared for the third time in my life, in the form of my business partner, Jerry Alexander (another petulant child!). By now, my thinking had evolved and I was more open-minded to embrace the principles of goal-setting.

Additionally, Jerry had lived by these principles for a while so my reservations about no-one ever doing this in “real life” were overcome. Not to mention that Jerry’s approach to goal setting meant that I set my goals, and not someone else, unlike my previous experience with High School teachers!

In fact, the more content I read about “success” and people who are the “top of their game”, the same theme keeps recurring: all successful people set goals, have a plan for achieving them and rigorously stick to it.
SMART Goals Are A Good Start

You may have heard about SMART when it comes to goal-setting? They should be:


* other variations are also available!

There is definitely some merit in this approach and by working through it, you can quickly begin to understand why New year’s Resolutions often fail.

For example, “I will get fitter” is a really poor goal. What does this actually mean? When will this be achieved by? How do you know that this goal has been achieved?

This is the approach that some people take when it comes to setting goals, particularly New Year’s Resolutions. Perhaps a better approach would be to make the above goal something like: “I will complete a 5 kilometer run by the end of March 2017”.

Can you see that this goal is more specific, can be measured and has a clear end-point?

A Disciplined Approach to Goal-Setting!

Unfortunately, in reality, SMART Goals themselves are not enough to ensure you achieve your goals. Instead, you need to grow goal-setting as a habit.

Here are three easy suggestions to get your started:

Write your goals down, instead of just keeping them in your head.
Display these written goals in a prominent place and look at them every single day to keep them at the forefront of your mind.
Monitor your progress monthly so you can course correct, before you wander off too much.

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. – Peter Drucker”

Ultimately, everyone likes making plans, however, it takes guts, discipline and hard work to achieve your goals.

Don’t make excuses, don’t let your circumstances affect you and don’t let life get in the way. Instead, take a deep breath, put on your big boy/girl pants and start growing your goal-setting habit. Making goals is the easy part, sticking to them is the tough bit.

Develop a system that works for you but make sure you set proper goals, that can be measured, and monitor them regularly. One final thing, don’t set your goals too low, stretch yourself – they should scare you a little!

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark”. Michelangelo

So what New Year’s Resolutions have you made for 2017? Or should I ask you, what goals have you set? And what system are you going to use to ensure that you achieve your goals?

Be brave. Be bold. Be discipled. And achieve your wildest dreams!
Guest article written by Kallum “with a K” Russell, Chief Enterprise Officer of Acorn Enterprise.

Kallum is a multi-award winning Scottish Entrepreneur, who is a passionate advocate for start-ups, student enterprise and entrepreneurship! He was also listed on the SBNN 40 UNDER 40 list in 2016.

Acorn Enterprise is on a mission to grow Scotland’s entrepreneurial culture.

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