by Lisa Malin
I love the promise of a shiny New Year; the possibilities it holds, the opportunities for personal growth, the feeling of a fresh start. I’m not alone. Research shows that 60 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. The rub? Only an estimated 8% of us make good on them, leaving the majority of us holding the bag, feeling defeated and unworthy of change.
We’re not a fan of these statistics, so we reached out to iPEC certified Life Coach, Mica Diamond, to help us better understand the numbers, and provide us with insight and strategies to help tip the scales in our favor, and increase our chances for success.
Q. What is a Life Coach?
A. Life Coaches partner with clients to explore new goals, expand their sense of what is possible in their lives, and provide real tools that empower them to reach their full potential. We ask deep questions that challenge clients to think bigger and reach higher, as well as help them understand what motivates them and what holds them back. Together, we come up with ways to harness strengths and overcome obstacles to make long lasting shifts and make sustainable, measurable results.
Q. How does coaching differ from traditional therapy?
A. Coaching and traditional therapy both form a confidential one-on-one trusting relationship between professional and client, however, there are key differences. Therapy often helps a client understand how they got to where they are today. Coaching, on the other hand, is less focused on how you got to this moment. Coaching says “here you are, where you go from here is up to you!” It is forward thinking and empowers the client to proactively create their future.
Q. What’s the secret sauce when it comes to coaching? Why do you think it’s so powerful and transformative for clients?
A. Having an appointment with a coach is having an appointment with yourself. So often people go through their day checking off items on a to-do list without ever pausing to see if these items are actually moving them in the direction they’d like their life to go. Coaches carve out and hold space for clients to focus time on what they really want to do, and help them do things beyond what they think may be possible. We work in partnership with clients and hold them accountable for what they say they will do. Coaching takes what is inside (hopes, dreams, intentions, desires) and translates it to external goals that the client accomplishes step by step.
Q. Resolutions are easy to make, but hard to keep. Can you help us better understand this narrative? Why is it so hard to stay motivated?
A. Many New Year’s resolutions are broken within weeks, days or even hours. The biggest mistake I see people make is they feel like they have to deprive themselves or participate in activities they don’t actually like. Willpower is draining and we can quickly run out of reserves and give up.
A simple shift in thought process can change this:
If your goal is to get lean and fit in the new year you might look at it like this:
“ I have to force myself to go to the gym 4 days a week and I can no longer eat all the delicious food I love” If that is your thought, your feelings will be of deprivation and doing things you don’t enjoy. You may last a few days, but chances are you will become unmotivated and give up on your goal.
If you shift that initial thought to something positive like “I am choosing to get lean and fit in the new year because I will feel great, have more confidence and enjoy every aspect of life more” then you will feel excited and connected to exercising and eating nourishing healthy food. Now you don’t feel like you are depriving yourself, rather you are giving yourself the gift of health and wellness.
Choose your initial thought surrounding your resolution carefully. Check in and make sure it is serving you well and will inspire and motivate you to stick to those resolutions…. Not because you HAVE to, but because you WANT to.
Q. What’s the biggest mistake you see people make when it comes to setting and achieving personal goals.
A. Setting an unreasonable goal is the biggest mistake I see. If you are determined to get something that is not possible, then you will quickly feel discouraged and defeated and lose motivation. I like to tell clients to think about the ideal goal. Then think about a much smaller, but still minimally acceptable goal. Then choose the sweet spot in between those two goals as the stated goal. You want to stretch yourself just the right amount so that it will take work, but will also be achievable.
Q. What can we do to increase our chances of carrying through on our resolutions this year, and living the life we envision for ourselves?
A. Setting “S.M.A.R.T.” goals will increase your chances of success.
S - Make sure your goal is specific. Vague goals don’t work. State exactly what you want and why you want it.
M - Your goal needs to be measurable. How will you track your progress? What does success at each stage look like?
A - Is your goal achievable? Make sure the stated desire is something that you can take the steps to make happen.
R - Is your goal reasonable? Knowing the constraints or present conditions of your life, ensure that the goal and action steps you are choosing can fit in with the realities of your current day-to day.
T - Make your goal timely. Set a plan of when you will do each step and find a way to hold yourself accountable to the mile markers along the way, so that you reach your goal and run through the finish line!
Q. Do you believe personal health and wellness play a role in our ability to set and achieve goals in other parts of our life, such as relationships, career, home life?
A. Absolutely! Coaching looks at the whole person. When you change one area of life, all of the other areas automatically shift. People that hone in on their personal health and wellness gain massive amounts of increased energy and confidence. Not only does that translate to success in the gym or jogging on the track, but it creates more positive energy while you are at work, parenting, spending time with your partner, friends and family. It’s all connected!
Q. Lastly, what would you say to someone reading this who is off track, feeling discouraged, and in need of inspiration?
A. We all sometimes feel off track and discouraged. No one always has their mojo. But you don’t have to wait for it to arrive. You can choose to create it at any time. No matter what happened last year, last week or even an hour ago, the future is yours to start creating right now.
The next chapter has not yet been written, and you are the author. Take some time to think about what you really want and why you want it. How will life improve if you reach those goals?
If you’re really stuck, working with a coach can really help. A good coach can help you break down your larger goals and desires into manageable steps that are specific, reasonable, and stretch you just the right amount to get you moving in the direction of your dreams. Rather than simply wishing for the changes, we can start making the changes.
Mica Diamond is an iPEC certified Life Coach and holds an M.A. in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University. She coaches individuals, families, groups and organizations, and runs workshops and coaching circles on career transition, career relaunch, parenting, stress reduction, relationships, work/life balance, and health & wellness.
Mica operates her practice from Westport CT, Sag Harbor NY, New York City and remotely via video conference/phone. Check out her website https://micadiamond.com to learn more.