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Broken New Year's Resolutions. How Life Coach Training Can Help You Help Your Client to Set the Right Goals

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New Year’s resolutions are seen by many as an ideal way to make positive life changes, but statistics show that only 39% of individuals in their twenties manage to achieve their aims, and this percentage drops to 14% when assessing people in their fifties (Tribby, 2017). Frequently, resolution setters can’t progress beyond the first couple months or even weeks of the year, with 80% of these goals failing by February (Mulvey, 2017). Yet many people try once more the following year. Lehman (2017) states that “[r]esolving to change, followed by trying and failing, followed by a new set of resolutions that starts the cycle over again is so epidemic that the National Institute of Health has defined it as a psychological condition.” This condition is known as “False Hope Syndrome.”

These statistics and observations of cyclical failure could seem discouraging for those who would like to set New Year’s resolutions, but they don’t have to be. New Year’s resolutions are simply a type of goal, and they fail largely because they are developed incorrectly. Life coaches know that achieving a goal takes comprehensive planning as well as hard work, and they can provide helpful guidance to their clients. Keep reading to find out just what advice you can give clients determined to meet the goals they set each New Year.

Professionals With Life Coach Careers Guide Clients Through Self-Reflection

A common mistake many people make when setting goals is failing to engage in self-reflection. Self-reflection helps establish how desired goals meld with a person’s values, needs, and possibilities. Goal-setting should not be considered as an isolated process, but rather as part of something much broader (Brause, 2004). This is an area where graduates from life coach school can provide guidance. With subtle assistance from a life coach, clients are often better able to explore the congruence of their values with their motivations and current realities (Liska, 2014). Such self-reflection should also result in a client knowing why they would like to achieve a particular goal.

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Goals should be developed in line with a person’s values and vision for the future

The more a certain goal is associated with a strong underlying motivation and supported by personal values, the more likely the client will be able to adopt the right state of mind to persist through the often challenging mental work associated with goal fulfillment. Working towards goals is a process of change, and change tends to entail emotional friction, stress, and discomfort (Luciani, 2015; Sicinski, n.d.). Without sufficient mental commitment and alignment of the goal with other areas of life, success is less likely.

New Year’s Resolutions Need to Be Made SMART and Accompanied by Action Plans

Another frequent mistake people make when listing out their New Year’s resolutions is that their goals both lack detail and are too complex.(Diamond, 2013). The first problem may be addressed by making SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) goals (Sicinski, n.d.; LYM Social, 2018), meaning that they should be phrased with precision, have concrete criteria by which progress can be measured, be both realistic and challenging, have significance to the goal-setter, and be grounded within a specific time-frame during which they should be achieved. A goal related to weight loss, for example, should not be phrased simply as a desire to lose weight, but rather to lose a specific and realistic amount of weight within a given time period.

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New Year’s resolutions often fail because they are not sufficiently specific

To solve the second problem, a detailed action plan breaking down large goals into weekly or even daily bite-sized goals should be developed. This is something that those with life coach training may assist with. Breaking a resolution down into small steps is important for gauging positive progression (DeMarco in Lynch, 2014), whereby “[s]mall wins add momentum towards bigger goals” (LYM Social, 2018). Using the example of weight loss, a target of losing 15 pounds within a couple of months could be broken down into losing 1-2 pounds weekly through specific dieting and exercise activities. In this way, a goal which is more like a marathon isn’t approached with a sprint—something that could lead to burnout.

Patience and Consistency Are Key to Winning the Race

Finally, as a life coach you should stress that the right strategies need to be approached with patience and consistency. Many people do in fact do not achieve their New Year’s resolutions because they don’t persist long enough (Sicinski, n.d.). This is where smaller steps outlined in the action plan will help, but consistency needs to be truly maintained in order to develop habits that will deliver lasting change. This is something that could take longer than a few months (Siciniski, n.d.). The good news is that self-discipline is like a muscle (Luciani, 2015), so persisting through each mini-goal will become easier over time and the support of a trained life coach is more likely to help you reach those goals.

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Works Cited

Brause, F. (2004). Effective goal setting in coaching. Retrieved February 20, 2018, from

DeMarco, R. in Lynch, M. M. (2014). A Life Coach’s Guide to Making (and Keeping) New Year’s Resolutions. Retrieved February 20, 2018, from

Diamond, D. (2013). Just 8% of People Achieve Their New Year’s Resolutions. Here’s How They Do It. Retrieved February 20, 2018, from

Lehmann, R. (2017). 92% of New Years Resolutions Fail. Here’s How the Other 8% Succeed. Retrieved February 20, 2018, from

Liska, C. (2014). Common Coaching Goals and Techniques to Achieve Them. Retrieved February 20, 2018, from

LYM Social (2018). How To Increase Your Chances Of Keeping a New Year’s Resolution. Retrieved February 20, 2018, from

Mulvey, K. (2017). 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February — here’s how to keep yours. Retrieved February 20, 2018, from

Sicinski, A. (n.d.). A VISUAL PLAN ON HOW TO SET YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS. Retrieved February 20, 2018, from

Tribby, M. (2017). Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work. Retrieved February 20, 2018, from