Happy New Year. It’s a time when many people make resolutions. Yet, you’ve probably seen the discouraging stats about how ineffective New Years Resolutions tend to be.
What works better? MTO Goals with H.E.A.R.T.
Resolutions tend to be stated like dreams and they don’t provide a way to achieve the desired result. The biggest follies with most goals include people set goals either too high or too low. This way they save face either by achieving a very easy goal or by not achieving something no one really expected to happen. But they get little motivation.
Enter the brilliant solution of MTO goals … setting 3 goals instead of one.
For any goal, set a Minimum, Target, and Outrageous.
For example, if for 2018, I had a goal to throw out an average of 10 things a day, if left there, it could be too challenging and I might lose interest. It’s a good Outrageous goal. A good Target goal, might be an average of 5. A Minimum goal might be 1 thing a day — something I know I can do for sure. As it turned out, I had some flurries of discarding hundreds of things and finished with 2775 items cleared from my home for an average of 7.6 things per day.
For any goal you might have, you can select your Target and bookend it with a Minimum and an Outrageous. The classic New Years weight loss goal could be about a target weight or a number of pounds shed. An exercise goal could include 3 goals with frequency and duration: Minimum 2x/week for 20 minutes; Target 4x/week for 30 minutes; Outrageous 6x/week for 30 minutes … or other variations.
The MTO goals solve a motivational issue, but the job is not complete. As I wrote in Alive With Joy,
“One of the best ways to move to action is through goal setting. Unfortunately, much of what’s often espoused for setting goals is not optimal. Unless you’ve been living in a small shack in the woods for an extended period, you’ve encountered “SMART goals” [presented variously as Specific (simple, sensible, significant), Measurable (meaningful, motivating) Achievable (agreed, attainable), Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, written, and results-based), and Time-bound (timely, testable)].
“People present SMART goals like they should be etched into stone tablets. But the evidence says otherwise: one study found only 25 percent of people are motivated by SMART goals. For the rest, SMART goals increase stress while reducing motivation, creativity, and resilience (McKee, 1991). Another study proposed SMART goals dull responsiveness to the complex and emergent nature of organizational life (Weick & Sutcliffe, 2007).”
Here’s my brand new alternative: H.E.A.R.T. Goals:
How to – the most obvious, but missing feature for useful goals is identifying the pathways. How will you get there?
Energy – before you get going with the details, it is useful to prime your motivation by recalling your past successes and reminding yourself of your strengths.
Activation – use structures to remind yourself of your goals. Anything from a note on your bathroom mirror to an alarm in your smartphone can help to keep you on course.
Relationships – who can provide social support? who can be a partner? Getting others involved with your goals dramatically increases success.
Take Action – find the low hanging fruit and begin movement toward your goals immediately. Small victories will keep you on your path.
Take a resolution or simple goal and turn it into an MTO goal and add heart. This will get you started on your year of joy.
Each year I create a theme — ideally it aligns with the number of letters in the year. For 20-19: “Create self-expression. Adventures In Joy Game.”