Updated Thu, Jan 2, 2014 8:31 am
I like to start each year with a list of New Year's Resolutions, and some years my list has been more successful than in others. But even when I abandoned my commitments before Spring, the process was worthwhile. There were periods in my life when I didn't devote much time to self-reflection, so starting out a year by taking a close look at myself was a good thing.
As I often do in December, in recent weeks I asked some of my coaching clients about what they'd like the next year to bring. What will success look like in 2014? Where do they want to focus their energy this year?
When I ask clients about their goals or intentions for the coming year, I generally don't frame my questions in terms of “Resolutions.” The concept of "Resolutions" sounds dated, and it makes some people feel defensive. They have so many responsibilities to juggle already that the idea of taking on new rules or promises may feel like an unnecessary burden.
But for me, the process of resolving to do better in the coming year often leads to progress, even when my energy doesn't last for the whole 12 months. So today I'm working on my annual slate of Resolutions, and coming up with action plans to get things moving. Care to join me?
If you want New Year's Resolutions that make a difference, try these tips:
- Write them down. It's critical that you write your resolutions and look at your list frequently. Find ways to remind yourself of your goals, like posting them above your desk, or on your phone, or printing them on a card you carry around.
- Be specific. A vague resolution is little more than wishful thinking. Effective resolutions are realistic, detailed and have measurable results. For example, resolving to keep your office neat may not get you as far as a more precise commitment, like spending the last 10 minutes of each day putting things away.
- Start immediately. If you put off action, your resolutions will quickly lose steam. Begin 2014 by taking steps to toward your goals.
- Take little steps. Big goals can be daunting, and your slow progress may be discouraging. Break your long-term goals into smaller pieces and translate your resolutions into steps you can take right away. For example, if you want to lose 20 pounds, develop a plan for losing one pound a week. Commit to that plan for the month of January, with the idea that you'll make a new commitment for February.
- Chart results. Whether you are dieting or trying to change your work habits, one of the best ways to reinforce your efforts is to keep a log of each day's efforts.
- Develop a support system. Many people find that they are more likely to fulfill commitments that they share with other people. Tell someone you trust about your resolutions and ask them to support you — or even hold you accountable — if you start to lose steam.
- Expect problems. Recognize that you will be tempted and may stumble. Anticipate negative thoughts that might tempt you off course, and be ready to respond. For example, if you know that you can be lured off your diet with the thought that "just once won't matter," carry a card that says "every meal counts."
- Plan your recovery. Researchers report that people who succeed in keeping resolutions do get off course, but what makes them successful is that they start up again. Have a strategy in mind for renewing your resolve and a getting back on track. For example, schedule a time each month to review your goals, restate your commitment and fine-tune your plans.
For more ideas for creating change, read:
Beverly Jones is an alum of Ohio University. Her column appears at Clearways Consulting LLC. Republshed with permission. For archives and additional content, visit the Clearways Consulting website.