New Year Resolutions

We are at that time of the year when many set themselves ‘New Year Resolutions’. I have always thought of it as a peculiar practise, to wait until a certain time in the calendar and then make changes. What’s also noticeable and unfortunately backed up with plenty of statistics, is that lots of us start off with enthusiasm for possibly one or two weeks, only to revert back to the old behaviour or habit. I am of course referring to two of the most common ‘New Year Resolutions’ to give up smoking and to lose weight. Sales of patches and anti smoking gum surge in January, memberships of sports clubs and gyms increase dramatically and the facilities are packed with people for the first two to three weeks and then attendances drop off.
What I am interested in though, is people being successful in achieving their resolution, their goal or the objective that they have set themselves. Its fair to say that February brings many private coaching and hypnosis clients who wish to achieve their goal, but have had a setback and taken up the old behaviours. When we have the initial consultation, there is one thing that is present in the vast majority of those we see. When asked what is it that you want to achieve, the client responds with a statement stating what they want to get away from. i.e. ‘I want to give up smoking’ which is the same as the statement ‘I do not want to be a smoker’ or ‘I want to lose weight’ which is the same as the statement ‘I don’t want to be the weight I currently am’. When pressed a little further along the lines of ‘If that’s what you don’t want, what do you want instead?’ they are often initially confused, and here is the heart of the issue that many setting goals and objectives for themselves and others find. The goal or objective has been stated in the negative, it means we are looking to move away from that which we currently have that we don’t want, but actually in our mind have no destination, no positive outcome.
Her are a couple of examples of how we can reframe an initial goal that is stated in the negative into one with a positive intent.

I want to give up smoking
I want to be able to walk the 1.5 miles to school with the children and be able to talk with them as we walk.

Or I want to be able to play football with my son on a Saturday in the park for 15 min at a time by February 31st.2011

I want to lose weight
I want to be 13 st 6lb by May 1st 2011 by losing 2lb each week a total of 32lb so that I can wear my new suit for my son’s wedding in May.


I am currently a size 16 and will be a size 14 by May 2011. I have seen a dress that I will buy to celebrate the achievement of this goal and wear to my husband’s business awards ceremony later that month.

So what are the key steps to successful achievement of any goal through the language we use? Using the acronym PACER from the field of NLP, you can craft achievable and compelling goals and objectives for yourself and others.

P                            Positive:
the goal or objective must be stated in positive terms, giving you a positive destination to head toward. What will achieving your goal bring for you?

A                           Achievable:
Your goal or objective must be achievable. You want to be successful. Has it been achieved by anyone else before? It is important that you identify what it will look like, feel like, sound like when you have achieved your goal. What is the first step you will take? What will be the last step prior to you succeeding?

C                            Context:
When, where and with whom do you want it?
When where and with whom do you not want it?
How long for? (at what point does it stop)

E                            Ecology:
What time will this outcome need? Who else is affected and how will they feel? How does it fit in with your other outcomes? How does it increase your choices? What will happen if you get it?
What won’t happen if you get it?
What will happen if you don’t get it?
What won’t happen if you don’t get it?

R                            Resources:
Can you start and maintain it?
What resources have you already got? (skills, people, money, objects, etc.)
What resources do you need?
Who has already succeeded in achieving this outcome

Whatever you wish to achieve, having a positive mind and attitude increases your chances of success. Coaching as a management style helps to develop not only yourself, but also those around you. It facilitates ownership and responsibility to act, it encourages experimentation and risk-taking to learn. Organisations who have captured the coaching culture are more successful in the long term than those who manage the business purely by targets and results.

Remember that New Year Resolutions are about Resolve, and this aspect of will power and determination will be greatly enhanced by wording your goals with their achievement in mind from the start.

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