New year’s resolutions should be no different to the goals we make at any time of year in order to move closer to who we want to be, how we want to operate and what we want to achieve. The problem is, as soon as its new year we all go a bit mad and create a long list of things that we feel will appease us from the sins of Christmas and New Year. Inevitably we then fail and feel rubbish about ourselves as a result. The reason is, making goals at any time needs to fulfil certain behavioural considerations. I hate the term but they really do need to be ‘SMART’ otherwise they just won’t work. So, for those who are making resolutions, I thought this extract from my book may help. Good luck and happy 2019!!
Key points to consider before you start:
- Don’t try to change too many behaviors at once. It just won’t work, and the sense of failure you will inevitably feel as a result could prevent you from living out your purpose effectively.
- The changes you are aiming to make should take you out of your comfort zone and stretch you, but shouldn’t push you to extreme discomfort. It’s better to take smaller, successful steps than a giant leap.
- Pick the things that you feel intrinsically motivated to work on (as opposed to doing it because you feel you ought to or someone else has told you to).
The headings below are the areas you should consider with each resolution you set. The italics provide an example of what sort of thing you may want to write.
Goal: Becoming more empathic.
The more specific you can be, the easier it will be to fill out the remainder of the plan so this may be expanded to:
I’m going to work on my empathy to become better at relating to other people when I’m feeling stressed and under pressure.
What will success look like and what will the positive outcomes be?
Becoming a more effective influencer and forming more positive relationships.
What obstacles may I come up against and what can I do about them?
Internal obstacles e.g., feeling demotivated, having self-doubt, fear, anger, anxiety. Frustration and impatience. Action to overcome: create a trigger that reminds me to take a step back
External obstacles e.g. lack of money, lack of time, lack of skills, health constraints.
Need to gain skills in the area of communicating more effectively.
Which strengths can I make use of to help me?
Interest in other people
Ability to listen
Desire to grow as a person
Action and by when? How can I break down my goal into smaller steps, how can I action those steps, and when by?
Take the overall area for goal and make it into something that you can carry out a step at a time. It’s very important to make your actions ‘time-bound,’ setting a day, date, and even a time for each of them where you can.
- Make sure that I am consciously listening to people at least once a day. Start doing this in my first meeting of the day from tomorrow and continue for two months, until March 3rd.
- Show empathic curiosity, really try to understand what the other person is saying, putting myself in their shoes. Continue doing step 1 and from March 3rd build in step 2 once a day for two months, until May 3rd.
- Go on a communication and influencing course by July 2019.
- Bring the understanding I get from the course into my everyday communications—continue with steps 1 and 2 and build the information into the company presentations I’m doing on August 31, thinking through how best to get the message across so that people can connect with it.
What will my review mechanism be?
You need to know how you’re doing against your specific goals, otherwise you don’t know how close or far away you are from achieving them. Measuring behavior change can be tricky, but there are some simple methods you can use, like rating yourself, asking for feedback, and logging progress.
- Check I’ve completed the actions above by the specified date.
- Ask for feedback from people who work with me.
- Make a log in my diary of the interactions I have every day.
- Rate myself out of 10 in terms of how I think I’m progressing.
TIPS TO HELP
- Create reminders: reminder for your specific actions somewhere that you will see frequently, e.g., on your daily to-do list, in your diary, an alarm on your phone. This is a small but critical step – the difference between making something happen and just thinking about it.
- Create a cue: tie the actions into something you do every day, e.g., if your goal is to start flossing your teeth, use brushing your teeth as a reminder.
- Reward yourself: every time you achieve success, however small. The reward should be something that will really provide you with personal satisfaction.
- Enlist social support: ask a friend, relation, colleague, or even a member of the community to encourage and support you.
- Persist: repetition is key to making a behaviour stick. Research has shown that it can take from 15 to 254 days to truly form a new habit.
My book Defining You is available at Waterstones, WHSmiths and Foyles in the UK as well as amazon.co.uk. Elsewhere it’s available on amazon.com, amazon.com.au, amazon.ca and in various bookstores in Canada (e.g. Indigo) and the USA.
Photo Credit: Brooke Lark Unsplash