Before you make your New Year's Resolution

 
 
 
 
 
 

The number of times I have made a New Year's resolution and then not followed through is overwhelming. And I'M THE ONE WHO MADE THEM. I fully intended on keeping the resolutions. But most of the time I just don't.

In fact, studies have shown that approximately 80% of New Year's resolutions fail.

Why is that? I think it is because a New Year's resolution is essentially a goal you are trying to accomplish, and …

GOAL SETTING SUCKS

 
 

Yep, our modern typical goal setting routines and rituals JUST DON'T WORK.

If you're like me, you've probably wondered why goal setting just isn't effective. We even have acronyms to help us remember how to set the perfect goals. The most popular acronym is S.M.A.R.T

However,

S.M.A.R.T goals are just plain dumb. You want to know what I found that works? Alchemical goals. Alchemical goals are R.A.D

 
 
 

I know I'll get a ton of pushback on this… but

S.M.A.R.T goals are Dumb. Alchemical goals are R.A.D

You may be wondering what I'm talking about here. So let's look at goals and the NEW SCIENCE OF GOAL SETTING.

Most goals and New Year's resolutions are doomed from the start for one simple reason. They are all about the outcome, the thing you want to hit, the target, the goal.

That sounds like it makes sense. Goal setting is all about reaching your goal, your target. But that doesn't work. It's kind of like shooting a bow and arrow. You don't actually control the target. You only control the bow and arrow. You only control your behavior prior to making your next shot.

That's the new science of goal setting:

PROCESS BASED GOALS ARE THE ONLY THING THAT WORKS

Outcome based goals are a fallacy

 
 
 
 
 

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You can't do that

Goals that focus on the outcome of a behavior (like hitting a bullseye) are not under your control. I have said for years:

“You can't make $1,000,000”
What you can do is figure out what your customers need, figure out how to talk to them, provide a product that serves that need, charge a fair price for the product and $1,000,000 will show up in your bank account.

and

“You can't lose 10 lbs”
What you can do is go to the gym every day, feed your body good food and at the end of a month you will have lost 10 lbs.

These are processes. Steps that you directly control. Behaviors that you have direct agency over. They are not the end point of a process because you don’t have control over the end point.

 
 

So what's all this: “S.M.A.R.T goals are Dumb. Alchemical goals are R.A.D”

SMART is an acronym for a certain mindset of goal setting:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant)
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating)
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable)
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based)
  • Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)

So here's a goal. I want to make $1 billion by the end of 2021. It's got the S (it is specific and simple to understand). It's got the M (I mean, $1 billion is definitely measurable). It's got the A (achievable … if you come up with the next unicorn company). It's got the R ($1 billion is relevant to most people). And it has the T, it is time bound (by 12/31/2021).

So other than the questionable achievable part (unless you are Bill Gates or Elon Musk), it pretty much fits with S.M.A.R.T.

The only problem is that it's ridiculous. I gave a ridiculous example to demonstrate that SMART goals just don't work. The ridiculous part is easy to see. Imagine what happens when you put something closer to reality in this framework.

Why then are Alchemical goals so “R.A.D”

RAD is also an acronym for a certain mindset of goal setting:

  • Repeatable (you can easily do the goal behavior over-and-over)
  • Atomic (the behavior is the smallest thing you can accomplish)
  • Demonstrable (you can easily see if you did it)

This is the difference between SMART goals and RAD goals.

SMART goals are outcome oriented and therefore don't work
RAD goals are process oriented and are therefore in our control

Personally Speaking

I have a rowing machine and like many other people I want to be healthier and in better shape every year. My rowing machine will NEVER GET ME TO LOSE 10 LBS.

Nope, my rowing machine is not a magic goal machine. Ooooooh how I wish it were. I would have paid 100x if it was a magic goal machine.

My rowing machine is simple a process tool. It sits there and nudges me to put in the work, do the alchemical process goal of rowing for 20 mins a day (well 5 days a week).

  • Repeatable (every weekday get on the machine before work and row for 20 mins)
  • Atomic (there is nothing smaller than a row)
  • Demonstrable (either I rowed for 20 mins or I didn't)

Rowing for 20 mins on each weekday before work is the goal. It is the only goal that works.

Row for 20 mins on each weekday IS an alchemical R.A.D. goal…and it will help me get into better shape and lose 10 lbs.

Now it is your turn. Ditch the outcome goals. Forget about making $1 million or losing 10 lbs. Instead find process goals that will eventually lead to your desired outcome.

Believe in a process.
 
  • If that process is to call 5 customers a day and that is what you believe will generate more revenue, then make that your goal.
  • If that process is to exercise 5 days a week and eat a vegetable-only meal once a day 3 days a week, and that is what you believe will get you healthier, then make that your goal.

Remember letting go of outcomes is the only way to grab a hold of your ultimate desires, whether that is in your personal or professional life.

 
 
 
 
 

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