Weekend Poll Results: Goal Setting in 2019

With thanks to all who participated in my latest Weekend Poll, here are your responses to my question … Have you established goals for 2019?

Goal driven

A full 87% of respondents reported having established goals for this new year. Kudos to the 63% of you who have stuck with your goals so far, and to the 34% who responded, “for the most part”. Another 3% of respondents said you’ve not stuck with your 2019 goals so far. If you’re among this group, acknowledging this is a first step, and the year is still young! It’s never too late to get back on track, and you may find the information below helpful.

You need a plan, or road map

If you’re making a change in direction, it helps to have a road map – or a plan. Sixty-seven percent of respondents reported that you’ve already developed strategies or an action plan to achieve your goals. Another 30% reported that you’re not there yet, but you are working on this.

Build in some metrics

It’s good to have a goal, but you can increase your likelihood of success by introducing metrics. What are your timelines? How will you measure progress and ultimate achievement of your goal(s)?

A slight majority of respondents, 52%, have already established timelines within which you want to achieve the results you want. Another 41% are working on this. The responses are identical when it comes to establishing metrics, or measures of progress and success.

I’ll check back in

In past years, I’ve asked readers the same questions on a quarterly basis. This provides an external check in that will ideally be in addition to your own periodic progress reviews. Stay tuned! In the interim, here are some thoughts on succeeding with goal setting.

Good habits as part of goal formation

There are many theories related to successful development and maintenance of habits; some suggest that commitment to a new or modified routine for number of days leads to effective development of a habit. I’ve written before about business coach Tom Bartow’s thoughts on habit formation. As you sift through various approaches before deciding what works for you, it may be worth considering Bartow’s  three phases of habit formation.

Phase One: The Honeymoon

Riding a positive wave of intention or inspiration, perhaps at the beginning of a new year or following a networking event with peers, we begin work on making positive life changes.

Phase Two: The Fight-Through

After the first blush of inspiration, we may find it difficult to block the return of former habits and  maintain new practices. How to work through this stage? Be prepared; anticipate that there will be struggles and choose how you respond to them.

Acknowledge that you’re facing a challenge sticking with your goal. The theory is that, each time we make a conscious choice to resist temptation or revert to an unwanted habit, we’re also setting the stage to win the next such struggle.

The Easy Way Out Sometimes, early success with goals can tempt us into thinking we can ease up on monitoring progress. Discouragement, when results don’t transpire as quickly as we’d like, can also lead to easing off on plans. Who hasn’t, at one time or another, caved (or wanted to cave) when faced with a temptation that runs counter to your goals? Self-talk can take the form of justifying an action or inaction that we know is counter-productive or contrary to our goals. What to do when you’re tempted to take the easy way out? Read on …

Remind yourself that, each time you give yourself permission to lose a round of this stage (“It’s only one session I’m missing”, “I deserve a break” and so on), what you’re also doing is making it easier to lose the next round.

Bring emotion into the fight. Ask yourself, How will I feel if I do this/if I don’t do this? If you find your motivation waning, you may want to project what your life will look five years down the road if you don’t continue with the changes you’ve begun making. Take a cold, hard look and ask yourself whether you’ll be satisfied with such a future.

Check your commitment Would it help to take a minute or so at the start and end of each day to recommit to habits you want to nurture and maintain, and to resisting those you need to drop?

Phase Three: Second Nature 

Can you stare down temptations that run counter to your goals? Each time you resist (win against) a temptation that you know is contrary to your goal, you make it easier for yourself to win the next such struggle … until you reach the point that it’s not a struggle, but second nature to hold strong to plans that result in achieving your goals.

Want a bit of help? Take a cold, hard look at whether you’ll be satisfied with your future if you give in to unwanted habits. Tap in to the strategies from Phase Two, and pause long enough to ask yourself, How would I feel about this choice if I looked back on it a week/month/year from now?

Communicate your goals

… and the steps necessary to achieve them. Sixty-two percent of respondents to this Weekend Poll reported that they’ve already communicated their current goals, and another 14% committed that they will do so. Another 24% don’t plan to share such information, and I can understand the inclination to keep such goals private. They may seem audacious or you may simply feel uncomfortable setting yourself up for possible disappointment that would then be known to others.

If you simply like your privacy, that’s also understandable. It may be worthwhile, though, to think about your goal setting (whether the goals are personal or professional) much as an employer might. Goals form part of an organisation’s strategic plan, which outlines plans for success and how to achieve it. Next steps? Any good leader will tell you that the likelihood of success is increased by identifying and then articulating quantifiable goals, even if only to a limited audience and at a high level.

That’s it for my little rant on communicating your goals! You’ll find all the data for this Weekend Poll below.


1.  Have you established goals for 2019?

  • Yes: 87% of respondents
  • No: 13% of respondents

2.  If you established goals (or resolutions), have you stuck with them so far??

  • Yes: 63% of respondents
  • For the most part: 34% of respondents
  • No: 3% of respondents

3.   Have you developed strategies or an action plan to achieve your goals?

  • Yes: 67% of respondents
  • I’m not there yet, but am working on this: 30% of respondents
  • No: 3% of respondents

4.  Have you made your goal(s) known to others?

  • Yes: 62% of respondents
  • No, and I don’t plan to: 24% of respondents
  • No, but I will: 14% of respondents

5. Have you established timelines within which to achieve the results you want?

  • Yes: 52% of respondents
  • Not yet, but I’m working on this: 41% of respondents
  • No: 7% of respondents

6. Have you established metrics/measures by which you can measure success?

  • Yes: 52% of respondents
  • Not yet, but I’m working on this: 41% of respondents
  • No: 7% of respondents

7. Have you identified habits/routines you need to drop?

  • Yes: 76% of respondents
  • No: 24% of respondents

8. Have you begun incorporating any new habits or routines as part of your goals?

  • Yes: 82% of respondents
  • No: 18% of respondents

9. Are you happy with your goal progress to date?

  • Yes: 75% of respondents
  • No: 25% of respondents

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