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New Year's Revolutions
Are you starting to plan for 2010? Here are some thoughts to help you design change that matters and set goals that stick.
Well, it’s that time of year—that time where we sit down, assess our lives, and write down the list of things we resolve to change in the coming year, NO MATTER WHAT! You know, that list of New Year’s Resolutions that covers everything from the personal (lose ten pounds, quit biting my nails, floss) to the business (keep my desk clean, quit wasting time on Facebook when I should be working, earn a million gazillion dollars). And so we do it! We make the list! We set SMART goals! We fire up our enthusiasm in preparation for January 1, when it all kicks off!
And then, roughly three days and fourteen hours after we dive into our master change initiative—we meet the fizzle. (Insert sound of a balloon deflating here). Anyone know this scenario? You’ve been SO GOOD for three days—you can finally see the surface of your desk, you haven’t posted an update in an eternity, and you’re exactly $73 towards earning your first your first gazillion. And suddenly, from out of nowhere, you stumble. Maybe you just take a quick peek on Facebook and before you know it, four hours have passed, as well as that project deadline you’ve been aiming for. That one thing, that one slipup, knocks you off balance. Your good intentions get derailed, discouragement slips in and starts talking trash, and soon those New Year’s Resolutions disappear into the growing clutter that has resumed residence on your desk.
As a coach who works with people to create lasting change in both their business and their personal lives, I’m actually not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions. While I love and applaud the intention to make a clean start, to plan for success, to set and achieve goals, usually there are other things to consider when designing effective changes, and making a list of specific, measurable tasks is frequently not enough to set you up for success. (The one exception to this I have seen was a friend of mine, whose New Year’s Resolution was to “drink more champagne”. God bless him, he succeeded.)
Here’s the thing: I really do love when people set their sights on change, and are successful doing it. It’s my job to help people devise clear plans and then execute on them. I’m all for dreaming big, creating the roadmap, and watching people do amazing things. I just think that setting yourself up for success requires more than a to-do list that you came up with on December 31st. And while people often revisit their business plans as a way of making New Year goals, I also think many business plans, while helpful, are frequently soulless, lifeless write-ups that fail to inspire. So when I work with clients to help them map out their vision and plan for the year ahead, I ask them to look at a bigger picture than just the specific tasks they want to set out for themselves. We dig into what’s important, where their best focus might be, and how their energy can be spent in a way that has more relevance and impact.
Since this is that time of year that many of us are revisiting our past year and strategizing for the next one, I offer five questions to help you deepen your thinking as you plan for 2010:
- What is your long term vision for yourself? Yes, this is an extremely broad question, and it’s meant to be. The idea is to begin with the meta view, the big picture overview, that you have for your life. We have a tendency to separate our lives into work and personal, as though they were two completely separate things. Then, particularly as business owners, we focus only on the business part of things. What I challenge you to do is to consider a larger, more holistic view: how do you want your life to be? What purpose does work serve? What impact do you want to have? What are your gifts, and how do you want to use them? Answering these questions will help you lay the foundation for the more detailed part of your plan.
- What do you want to be committed to over the next year? Commitments are broader and less tangible than goals, and often relate to an ongoing quality of life shift. For example, you might be committed to open and honest communication, or committed to a healthy work-life balance. It’s important to define your commitments in terms that are specific and clear to you, as they become another piece of the foundation for the goals that you ultimately set.
- What actions will you take that support your commitments? Most of you know about how to set goals: what will you do, when will you do it by, and so forth. More importantly, in my book, is to ask yourself if you are setting goals that resonate with your vision and your commitments. Make your goals not just attainable but interesting to you, and worthwhile in light of your bigger picture.
- What support or resources do you need to achieve your goals? An important part of your plan is creating a support system. Rare is the person who needs no help, and if you’re one of them, I applaud you (and request that you please write a book about how you do it). For the rest of us, support and resources can take many forms. It might be education, it might be books and classes, it might be finding a coach or a mentor, it might be finding a group of like-minded colleagues who are willing to collaborate with you. Don’t be afraid to get help wherever you can, and line it up BEFORE you find yourself in a pinch.
- How will you hold yourself accountable? Aye, there’s the rub—and what I often think of as the “secret sauce” of success. Creating a system or structure around accountability is the most effective way to ensure success that I know. For some people, the carrot method works well. For others, the stick is more effective. Either way, figure out what will work for you, and set it up! Get your coach or colleagues involved. Ask a friend to be an accountability partner. Create or join a mastermind group, and enlist their support in holding you to task.
As a final note, may I offer one more suggestion: write your plan down, and review it daily. It may seem like a small thing, but that one daily habit of reviewing your goals will have a greater impact on your success than just about anything else you will do.
Here’s to your success!
Learn more about the author, Kristy Swanson.
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- new year's resolutions
- goals goal setting
- smart goals
- business plan