It’s that time of the year again… resolution time.
Many of us share the shame of failed resolutions despite setting what we feel are achievable goals every year. One Harvard Business School Paper explains this problem as “Goals Gone Wild” (the title of this Harvard working paper), and warns against setting goals that are too narrow, too numerous, and set to an inappropriate time frame.
Here are six strategies to help us become more successful with our resolutions this time around:
1. Start with intentions instead of resolutions
For example, an intention to be healthier versus the goal of going to the gym every day. This helps you to be less rigid if you miss a day of a set goal while not giving up on it completely (I tried this one last year and really liked it - helped me to be more accepting of off days, and it was nice to have a guiding set of intentions for the year).
2. Let go of behaviours, commitments, or relationships you don’t need
Rather then adding to your list of things to do, think about what you can give up that no longer serves you, and can help you win back some of your time. As a simple example, I deleted the Facebook app off of my iPhone recently, so that I can only check-in from my laptop, and not while on the go; it freed up more time in my day, than I care to admit!
This ties into being honest about the obstacles to your goals, a point Malcolm Gladwell makes in his book Outliers (and mentioned in this post). Overcoming these obstacles may involve anything ranging from simple self-reflection, to cutting ties to people or things, to dealing with deeper issues.
3. Use a tool to help you map out and organize your goals, and revisit it throughout the year
I used this really helpful “Year Compass” tool this past Fall to help me set new direction for myself, and found it really useful (thank you Anti-Casserole Podcast E9 for the share!) The compass tool is free and downloadable, and guides you through a comprehensive exercise of reflecting on your past year, before moving into your current and future goals across all areas of your life.
4. Focus on one to two short term, realistic goals
With goals, less is more. Start with a monthly goal or one that you will finish within three months. Also be realistic with yourself in terms of how much time you may need.
I still feel it is useful to map out a vision of where you see yourself in 1, 5 and 10 years; it reminds you of what you are working towards, and helps you see how your vision has shifted over time. To help with this, I worked through the "10" book in this life series a couple years ago and still find it useful to look back at my notes; I just bought the "5" book in the series to work through in the new year.
This helps us with the next step:
5. Remember that the big goals take time!
I like the reminder to “expect anything worthwhile to take a long time”, as mentioned in this brainpickings post. Recently, I’ve been inspired by conversations with people ranging from my hairdresser who recently started his own studio, to an illustrator who is now working on her fourth children’s book - both reminded me of how much effort and how long the journey had been. The “Instagram success” that we observe can be a dangerous measure for the effort that really goes into honing a craft or achieving anything worthwhile.
Last but definitely not least...
6. Be in the company of people you are inspired by, and who can mentor you
The importance of this strategy for me is unmatched (and I've referred to this earlier in this post and this one) because of how much we are influenced by the company we keep. This also implies being bold enough to actively seek people out for their advice and guidance. Reading inspirational books to keep you inspired helps too (on my list to start for this year is Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, as well as Ash Maurya's Running Lean.)
I hope these are helpful tips for some of you. Time to get working on my own resolutions! Happy 2016 everyone!!
A passionate educator.. on a quest for a schooling model to love!