The New Year brings with it a shift of energy and the desire to make a new beginning. Not surprising that so many of us work on new goals and resolutions – be it getting a new job, asking for a raise or losing weight – at this time of the year.
But most of us don’t stick to those resolutions.
John Norcross, author of Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing your Goals and Resolutions, says 50% people who make resolutions on Jan 1 end up breaking them by the end of the month. His research showed that only 8% ended up sticking to their goals.
So how can you continue with your resolutions for longer and make your odds of realizing them higher?
Know why you’re doing it
You aren’t going to stick to any resolution if it doesn’t align with your core values and desires. If you don’t feel passionate about the yearly goal you’ve set yourself, chances are that you’ll give up when the going gets tough. Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal believes that “New Year resolutions that connect with the ‘ideal self’ are most effective”.
Action point: Connecting your resolutions to a deep sense of purpose – be it mastering new software or learning to code – will let you stay the course.
Set specific resolutions
It’s all very well to resolve to “get a raise, ask for a promotion, rise up the career ladder or work on better work-life balance”. But the lack of specificity may set you up for failure. Making your goals measurable lets you track your progress and measure success.
Action point: Aim to have a one-on-one with your supervisor or leave office early twice a week at least.
Think short and long term
The top reason why most people don’t keep their resolutions is because they are unrealistic. Joyce Hanna, of Stanford University, says the greatest success comes “when we set short-term, realistic, behavioral goals — based on what we have been doing previously — that will gradually lead to sustainable change”.
Action point: Set yourself an ambitious long-term goal, but focus on the small steps that will take you there. Will taking a management class or brushing up your people skills help?
Write things down
A study conducted at Dominican University demonstrated that writing one’s goal enhances goal achievement significantly. In the study, people who wrote down their goals and formulated action commitments accomplished significantly more than those who did not.
Action point: Pen your goals and share with friends and family who are sure to nudge you when you seem to be losing momentum.
Pick your game-changer
Every month, pick a game changer and focus on it with maniacal dedication. Ask yourself what’s the one thing you could do that month that will lead you to your goal? What’s the one thing you can do in a month that will lead to end-of-the-year success?
Action point: Focus your time, energy and skills on getting this game-changer – it could be nailing PowerPoint – in place. If needed, come clean with your manager and seek help.
Hold yourself accountable
It’s not easy to change behaviour, especially when it’s been a part of your life for some time. As time wears on, it’s easy to return to old habits, making it necessary to light a fire under your goals and make yourself accountable.
Action point: Consider using negative consequences if you don’t action your steps. Deny yourself something that you truly enjoy – this can be a true test of commitment.
Despite all your planning and action, chances are you may not achieve your goal. But remember that your failures will not define your success in the year ahead. You may lose your resolve and face setbacks, but don’t let the stumbling blocks get in the way.
Action point: It may not seem so at the time but setbacks give you the opportunity to bounce back. Reflect, make adjustments and get back to work.
The initial wave of enthusiasm may be swept away by the time January comes to an end, but you being patient and persevering will help stick to your resolutions. May 2017 be the year of accomplishment!
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